Sunday, 31 July 2011

Missing the window

Something I always want more of and never quite get enough of is sleep. However my body tells me when I haven't had enough, as was the case last week. When I start feeling lethargic, not performing so well at the gym, and ultimately getting a sore throat (common when the body is under stress) I know it's time for a catch-up, which is what I did last night when I had a blissful 10.5 hours sleep.

Sleep is so important for your health and well being, as it is when the body has the time and energy to repair itself, build new cells and detoxify, but is often the first thing to be cut when you're short on time. I certainly will rush around doing chores, that really could wait til the next day, when I ought to be going to bed and the problem with this is I often miss the sleep window. This is the point at which your natural cicardian rhythm is preparing you for sleep - your cortisol levels drop, you start to feel tired and if you get yourself to bed you'll usually fall asleep pretty quickly. Unfortunately this window for most people is from 9:30pm to 10:30pm, and if you're not asleep by 10:30 you've missed it. Factoring in that it usually takes poeople 15-30minutes to fall asleep after getting into bed, you need to be in bed by 10am for optimum sleep - not easy.

If you miss the window your body detects that despite feeling sleepy you're keeping yourself awake, assumes this is for a good reason, and then starts producing more cortisol to wake you up. This can give you a nice second wind, but also may keep you in an awake mode til 1am when the cortisol levels wear off. Even if you do go to sleep you may have disturbed or light sleep due to the elevated cortisol levels. This is also why you shouldn't exercise late in the evening as this pushes up your cortisol levels, also disrupting your sleeping pattern.

Even if it's not possible every night, you should try and have at least two nights a week where you're asleep by 10:30 to make sure you have a good deep sleep. And on that note, having missed the window myself, I'm off to bed!

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