Monday, August 30, 2010

Needed: 40 winks

How do you sleep? or, more to the point, how do you wake up?

Working from home means that I seldom have to leap out of bed in the cold, bleak darkness of dawn; I don’t have to battle with traffic; and my children have all left home, so I don’t have to shake, wake and feed them before they shuffle off to school. I usually wake naturally – alarm clocks ringing put me in a bad mood for the whole day – and spend my first twenty minutes contemplating and planning the day ahead. I am, indeed, fortunate.

How you wake and regain control of your body and mind sets the tone for the next fifteen hours or so.
Most people wake to a jangling alarm clock, fall out of bed and gulp down a couple of cups of coffee before throwing themselves into the car and fighting traffic to get to the office on time. Sudden activity like this, accompanied by caffeine, raises adrenaline levels and blood pressure. This equals stress. Once the adrenaline wears off, you begin to flag, so that by mid-afternoon (or earlier!) all you want is to sleep, but you still have many things to do before bedtime comes around again. Low energy levels leave you feeling irritable, de-motivated and unable to concentrate.

Here are a few tips to ward off daytime sleepiness:

“If music soothes the savage breast “… set your clock radio to a ‘light’ classical music station rather than ‘talk radio’, or get a docking station for your i-pod and use that. And don’t use the snooze button! Classical music does wonders for the brain. You can listen to the news in the car on the way to work.

And, breathe… spend a few minutes taking deep breaths and stretching before you get out of bed.

Let there be light… the hormone melatonin (released during the hours of darkness) tells us it is time to sleep. Light stops melatonin, so if you need to get up while there is no natural light, turn on the electric lights as you progress from bedroom to bathroom to kitchen.

Negative ions improve mood. Our modern lifestyle produces a lot of positive ions, so cancel some of those out with running water – stay in the bathroom while you fill the bath, or take a shower.

A bedtime routine helps your body to wind down and prepare to sleep. Try to go to bed (and get up) at the same time each day – even weekends. This helps establish a healthy sleeping pattern, so that after a while you will wake naturally without an alarm.

“To sleep, perchance to dream”… of course, getting enough sleep is vital for mental and physical health. A lot of people run on a sleep deficit – you need between seven and a half and nine hours undisturbed sleep a night. Finish eating and drinking at least two and a half hours before bedtime.

You are what you eat… and you must eat breakfast. You must. Yoghurt, fresh fruit and/or wholewheat products will keep hunger pangs at bay, at least until lunchtime when, by the way, you need to eat again!

zzzzz… Hey! Wake up! You can’t sleep now!

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