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Sleep – Unlocking The Gates Of Slumber – Part 1

Written by: Dr. Pamela Stoodley, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Dr Pamela Stoodley

Sleep is the weaving thread of profound importance in the grand tapestry of our lives – an influence that ripples through our physical vitality, emotional well-being, and cognitive prowess. Amidst the whirlwind of modern existence, the quality of our sleep emerges as a linchpin for overall health.


Top View of Beautiful Young Woman Sleeping Cozily on a Be

A substantial body of evidence indicates that inadequate sleep is linked to a myriad of detrimental medical and mental repercussions. It disrupts essential body systems, heightening the risk of cardiovascular issues, such as acute myocardial infarction (otherwise known as heart attack), elevating the likelihood of diabetes mellitus and obesity, impairing cognitive functions, triggering migraines, compromising the immune system, and increasing the susceptibility to cancers. Furthermore, it contributes to a surge in vehicular accidents and workplace incidents.


The escalating use of smartphones and electronic devices exacerbates this epidemic. Adolescents grappling with insufficient sleep are not only more prone to being overweight but may also experience depressive symptoms. The repercussions extend to mood and behaviour control, manifesting as irritability, moodiness, and diminished frustration tolerance. Beyond these challenges, chronic sleep deprivation in adolescents may even heighten the risk of suicidal tendencies.


So come along on a five-part journey through the landscapes of sleep as we unravel the intricate dance between environmental factors, nutrition, stress, physical activity, and the omnipresent influence of technology. Each element paints a stroke in the composition of our nightly rest, and delving into their interplay empowers us to unlock the gates of slumber and embrace the rejuvenating embrace of the night.


Your environment: Crafting the perfect sleep sanctuary


The ambience that envelops us as we lay down for the night holds the key to unlocking the gates of restful slumber. It's not merely the physical space but a carefully curated sanctuary that can make all the difference in the quality of our sleep. Let's explore the elements that contribute to the creation of the perfect sleep environment.


1. Ambient light


In the dance of our sleep-wake cycle, the subtlety of light takes centre stage, conducting the rhythm of our circadian rhythm. Bright or artificial light, especially that sneaky blue glow from screens, throws a curveball at our brains, shouting, "Stay awake!"—not the ideal cue for winding down. So, here's the play: swap out the harsh light for soft, warm vibes in the evening. Cue in dimmer switches, warm-toned bulbs, and maybe even the flicker of candles. And let's not forget the blackout blinds—they're like the conductor's baton, shielding against intrusive external light. Together, they create a symphony of gentle light, signalling to your body, "Hey, it's time to wind down." Because in this lighting ballet, every shade tells a story, guiding you gracefully into the serenity of sleep.


To learn more about how blue light affects our sleep, check out my book Cracking the Happiness Code.


2. Noise levels


In the symphony of the night, the volume of ambient noise plays a pivotal role—it's either a lullaby or a disruptive discord. Some find comfort in the gentle hum of a fan or the distant rustle of leaves, while others are unsettled by abrupt sounds. Here's the experiment: white noise machines, earplugs, or the serene melodies of ocean waves or rainfall – they're your tools. Discover the auditory backdrop that harmonizes with your sleep preferences. It's not just about noise; it's about crafting your sleep symphony, where each sound becomes a note in the composition of your restful night.


3. Room temperature


Are you privy to the Goldilocks principle for your sleep haven – the not too hot, not too cold rule? We need to aim for the optimal balance, the one that makes your sleep just right. Why does it matter? Well, too hot or too cold messes with your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, and that's crucial for some quality shut-eye. So, let's dial it down a bit. A cooler room, somewhere between 15.6 to 20 degrees Celsius (60-68 degrees Fahrenheit), is the zone for most of us. It's like a cool invitation for your body to get its sleep mode on. And hey, don't be shy to experiment with bedding—find that magic combo that's all about comfort without feeling like you're in a sauna or an icebox. It's not just temperature; it's about creating the Goldilocks-approved haven for your nightly journey into dreamland.


4. Comfortable bedding


Alright, let's get real about our sleep setup. That surface you crash on? It's not just there; it's a sleep game-changer. Throw some love (and maybe a little cash) at a mattress that's got your back—literally. Find one that's all about that sweet spot between spinal support and cloud-like comfort. Pillows? No more playing pillow Jenga; get ones that know your head and neck like old friends. And bedding – let's talk sheets and blankets. Go for materials that feel like a dream against your skin. We're talking about creating a cosy cocoon, a nightly retreat that makes the whole sleep experience not just good but downright amazing.


5. Declutter your space


Ever notice how a cluttered room feels like a chaotic echo of a cluttered mind? Yeah, it's a real thing. So, here's the deal: chuck the unnecessary stuff from your bedroom. Clear the path, organize your space – make it your sanctuary. This isn't about minimalism for Instagram; it's about you and your peace of mind. Picture this: a clutter-free bedside, a tidy closet, and open pathways. It's not just about visuals; it's about creating a haven where your mind can finally catch its breath. Let's call it a decluttering mission for a good night's sleep. Your uncluttered space is where tranquillity takes the lead, and your mind gets the memo: it's time to chill out. Welcome to the real-life decluttering journey, where serenity meets simplicity, and peaceful nights become a reality.


By thoughtfully curating your sleep environment, you're not merely setting the stage for a night of rest; you're creating a haven for rejuvenation and introspection. The quest for a perfect night's sleep begins with the acknowledgement that your surroundings play an active role in shaping the narrative of your slumber. Sweet dreams are not just a product of sleep, but a reflection of the environment you cultivate for your nightly journey into the realm of dreams.


“Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds” – Jojo Jensen

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

Brainz Magazine Dr Pamela Stoodley
 

Dr. Pamela Stoodley, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr Pamela Stoodley is a polymath with her range of specialties in being a general physician, child and adolescent psychologist, neuropsychologist, counsellor in addictions psychology and a nutritionist. Dr. Stoodley's first book 'Cracking the Happiness Code' teaches people the way our minds work and how best to use it to our advantage. Her life's mission is to show people how they can break the myth of a hard-wired brain and leap forward into the world of neuroplasticity for their own mental (health) agility. Her wish is to be able to empower every human on this planet ‒ from toddlers to retirees, the weapon of Mastering our Minds.

 

References:

  • Stoodley.P. (2022). Cracking The Happiness Code ‒ A practical guide to a happier life. Wellington: Jane Publishing.

  • Chattu, V. K., Manzar, M. D., Kumary, S., Burman, D., Spence, D. W., & Pandi-Perumal, S. R. (2018). The Global Problem of Insufficient Sleep and Its Serious Public Health Implications. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 7(1), 1. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare7010001

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