Those suffering from kidney disease, or any chronic illness, need quality sleep to help maintain and aid the healing process. Unfortunately, this is an often overlooked principle for great health. Thankfully, it was hit home again to me at a seminar that I attended on the weekend.
Dr. Craig Hassad from Monash University (Melbourne) presented and amazingly holistic approach to chronic illness; everything from stress management, spirituality, exercise, nutrition, and environmental factors were covered. One section of the talk particularly pricked my ears up. Dr. Craig stated that if the drug companies could bottle the benefits of sleep (and exercise for that matter), then a drug trial for one person, for one year, would cost in excess of $100,000 … And that is without exaggeration.
Consider these stats for increasing Advanced NK-cell Activity (=immune function) through sleep. Adequate sleep increases the activity of the immune system by a whopping 44%! And this is only outdone by exercise (47%), and stress management (45%). Makes you wonder what all the fuss is about when scientists are high-fiving each other when they get any improvements of 2-4% through drugs, doesn’t it? Especially when it is available to all of us for free.
Insomnia (lack of sleep) occurs when the body and mind are in a state of alertness. Overactivity during the day often persists at night in the form of restless or broken sleep.
So today I thought I would share my top 10 tips for a deep, restful sleep (and they won’t cost you a penny)
Remember that habits are as hard to form as they are to break, so put each hint into practice for at least ten consecutive nights (preferably twenty one nights) before discarding this as “not for me”.
1. Flag medical conditions
Notify your health practitioner of medical conditions which might interfere with sleep such as asthma, heart burn, angina, arthritis, pain or breathlessness under treatment.
2. Reduce stimulants
Tea, coffee, chocolate, cigarettes which prevent quality deep sleep. Another important matter is timing, these types of stimulants need to be consumed early in the day. E.g. coffee in some sensitive people should not be consumed after 2pm. In fact, in a lot of cases people will only benefit from removing the stimulant completely from their diet.
3. Reduce alcohol
It like seems backward logic, but although alcohol can sedate, alcohol impairs one’s ability to have a quality deep sleep.
4. Attempt exercise at least 4-6 hours before bed time
Ideally to a level which causes you to perspire.
5. Have a hot shower or bath before bed
Our body temperature peaks in the daytime and falls during sleep. We tend to fall asleep as our body temperature begins to fall, this will happen dramatically when your shower has finished. And don’t forget to turn off your electric blanket!
Alternatively in hotter weather: lie on cold floor tiles (like those found in most bathrooms or kitchens). This will help your core body temperature to drop which in turn will help you to get to sleep. This technique is especially useful when you feel too hot to sleep.
6. Avoid large meals before bed time
Try to finish your evening meal before 7:00pm at the very latest.
7. Practice ‘Inner’ Exercises
Meditate 5-10 minutes a night before bedtime; Breathe: imitate the slow, deep rhythmical breathing of sleep.
write a journal or diary to get all those random thoughts from your mind on to paper. The writing doesn’t even have to make sense, but it is better out, than in!
9. Maintain a sleep schedule
Having a set sleep and wake time helps train the ‘body clock’.
10. Go to bed only for sleep, rest & intimacy
This makes sure that the body recognises the bedroom as a place for only these activities. Watching TV, discussing work or reminiscing over the day’s events does not set up the right sleep environment.
As I always like to give more than promised, lastly: prepare for sleep. Half an hour before retiring, reduce the intensity of your thinking, and avoid watching TV*. Whether it is writing a journal entry, reading a book, or playing a game of patience, the important thing is to do what best works for you.
*It has been proven that watching television actually changes our brain waves in a negative way that is not conducive to healthy sleep.
Then take plenty of time to get ready for bed. Get your clothes ready for the next morning, take a leisurely bath, but most importantly make a ritual out of it!