Sleep! The third pillar of health!

Happy New Year! Let’s begin the year talking about sleep. In November last year, I did a corporate talk on the importance of sleep. The importance of other aspects of health towards fitness is becoming more and more apparent to me: exercise is incredibly important, but so is nutrition and so is sleep!

Poor sleep can affect so many aspects of your life, as I’m sure all of us know after a night of fitful or no sleep! Poor sleep obviously causes a decline in cognitive function, especially short-term memory, mathematical processes, creativity and innovative mental processes.

Lack of sleep also affects your weight management, because the production of your human growth hormones (HGH) decreases with poor sleep, while Ghrelin (your hunger hormone) increases. To exacerbate the matter, your satiety hormone, Leptin, decreases with poor sleep.

And of course, poor sleep may lead to lifestyle diseases or conditions, such as: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high high cholesterol, heart disorders, type two diabetes and stroke risk. Of course, lack of sleep affects your immune system. But what interested me more is that poor sleep also increases the “Alzheimer’s protein” in the brain!

Personally, I used to experience bad sleep prior to taking up yoga seriously. Since having done my yoga teacher training, sleep is usually not a problem. I also find essential oils very helpful to get to sleep. oils such as lavender or doTERRA’s Peace or Balance blend are amazing for sleep. doTERRa even has a sleep blend, in Malaysia known as Lavender Peace, elsewhere known as Serenity.

My advice to you if you if you are seeking a good night’s sleep:

  • Stick to a sleep routine / develop sleep ritual
  • Maintain good nutrition around sleeping time: being overfull / under full affects sleep. Stay away from nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and tyrosine-rich foods (stimulants)
  • Make a good sleep environment
  • Exercise! Because it increases deep sleep and quantity of sleep
  • Manage stress / concerns
  • Try magnesium – it helps to calm you down and people generally have a deficit of magnesium in their diet

Of course, yoga, meditation and oils help to induce good sleep as well!

If you want to read my column in the Sun about sleep, click here!

What do you do to help get you to sleep? Let me know in the comments!