January – The Importance of Sleep - Foxford

January – The Importance of Sleep

-By  Tom Coleman

We are all familiar that this time of the year means new intentions, new promises, renewed energy all with the same goal; to become a better, healthier version of ourselves. It almost feels like a relief that the overindulgence of the festive season has ended, and we are ready to make some meaningful changes in our lifestyle. Of course, diet and exercise are always top of the list but let us not forget the foundation that they are built upon – quality Sleep.

A famous sleep scientist described sleep as “the master conductor of health & disease.” It should be right at the very top of any list where health and vitality are the goals. After all, the currencies of better health, a better life, are more energy, more time, less stress, less pressure, presence, and fulfilment. Sleep is the foundation of youth, there is a reason it is called beauty sleep! Poor sleep accelerates the ageing process, depletes our immune system, focus, memory, and mood to name a few.

 

 

 

 

I always say that sleep is the ultimate act of self-care.

Good quality sleep regulates our hormones, the immune response, promotes tissue repair, enhances memory, embeds positive emotional experiences, and cleans our brain while we sleep. We are sharper, more productive, happier people when we have had good quality slumber. So how can we achieve it?

A good sleep routine starts from the moment we wake up in the morning. Everything we do through the day will in some way inform our sleep. The first thing we should do is to get outside into natural sunlight. This helps inform the sleep timer in our brain and clears grogginess fast. Delay the first tea or coffee for an hour and this helps overcome the afternoon slump. We should all try to engage more with the outside world and that also involves getting active.

Physical activity, not just exercise, has been proven to reduce wake episodes, improve the depth of sleep we get and shorten the time it takes to get to sleep. That could be walking, gardening, playing with the children, cleaning your room or structured exercise. It all counts and if you are failing, just lower the bar.

Of course, quality food and avoiding too much caffeine will also greatly help us drift off to sleep. As the evening comes in, we want to start to think about letting go of the demands of the day and start to wind down. That could mean drawing a line under work for some or getting away from overstimulation on social media for others. Much of what keeps people awake at night is what they did not get done, or what else they need to do tomorrow. Keep it in the day and start to think about your wind down routine and the bedroom.

 

 

The bedroom should be a sensory haven, a place of calm, relaxation, and peace.

As we are very sensory creatures, smell, touch, sight, and sound are all key when it comes to the bedroom and quality sleep. Keeping your sleep space clutter free is so important. Clutter has been described as postponed decisions. Not to sound like your parent -start by cleaning the bedroom and notice how it creates mental space as well.

Ear plugs, eye mask, a nice diffuser and superior quality natural fibres will all make a dramatic difference to how easy it will be for you to achieve sleep. Who does not love fresh crisp sheets and a warm blanket on these cold January nights. Relaxing music, strategic lighting and soft fibres promote a sense of calm and have been shown to reduce anxiety.

Our journey to regular, deep, quality sleep starts and ends in the bedroom. Have no doubt that achieving better sleep will fuel your exercise, determine your food choices, increase your energy levels, create space in your day and ultimately protect your health and wellbeing. Everyone around you will benefit and this year could be the year you reach and exceed your health goals.

 

Visit tomcoleman.ie for more sleep tips.

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