Human sleep is perhaps one of the least understood physiological processes. Its value to human health and proper functioning is without question, where sleep is absolutely essential to both the mind and body. There is no doubt that sleep deprivation and altered sleep patterns impair mental and physical functions and can be a contributory factor in symptoms such as fibromyalgia, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.
ATP is vital to life
Every single one of us is composed of trillions of individual cells. Every day millions of cells die and are replaced by millions of new cells. Each cell is a little factory in its own right where it draws in oxygen and combines it with the amino acids that it finds in the food that we eat, and converts it to carbon dioxide (that we exhale), water , of which we make, two pints every day) and something known as adenosine tri-phosphate (or ATP).
Living things (humans) use ATP like a car battery. When we wake in the morning our battery is full. During the day we continue to make ATP but as we are active, we are using the ATP faster than we are making it. Thus as the day goes on, we get tired, to a point where we are exhausted and have to go to bed. The battery is empty. During the night, at rest, our body needs much less ATP and so our batteries fill up again. This life cycle goes on through life, until that is when we stop making ATP. And life ends.
As we make our way through life it is very important for us to make good quality ATP. Yet about half of us have difficulty falling asleep, while perhaps about thirty percent of us have insomnia problems. As we age our sleep needs decrease. But, if you have a busy family life, children to look after and a job to hold down, then it is of the utmost importance to recharge the batteries with good-quality sleep at night. During the day it is beneficial to have a regular exercise programme that elevates the heart-rate by fifty to seventy-five percent of maximum, (maximum heart rate is approximately 185 minus age in years).
Exercise should be for about thirty for at least twenty minutes each day, but this can be done in ten-minute segments, where it is just as beneficial. Getting off the bus a stop before your own and walking the rest of the way home, or climbing the stairs in the office are just two examples. Of course if you are currently not on a regular exercise programme, it is of utmost importance to get medical clearance if you have health problems or are over forty.
The Benefits of Progressive Relaxation Techniques
At night when we go to bed it is helpful to perform some Progressive Relaxation Exercise to help us fall asleep. All that you have to do is breathe slowly and deeply in the through the nose and then silently and quietly exhale through the open mouth. As you breathe in, tense the muscles on the toes of your feet. Then as you breathe out, relax the muscles. On the next breath in, tense the muscles of the feet, and relax them as you breathe out. Next the muscles on the ankles, the calf muscle, and then the muscles on the front of your lower leg, then the knees, etc, etc.
By the time that you reach your face, you can even relax the tongue in your mouth; allow your eyes to fall back into the sockets, the skin on your face (and the myriad of muscles under) to go slack. As you work through this routine, you gradually tense and relax every group of muscles from the bottom to the top of the body.
Continue gently breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth for a little while longer and all being well, you will drift off into what should be a relaxing and nourishing nights sleep. This takes a little bit of practice, but if you persist for a few nights, you should find that your body will tune into what you are teaching it – and rather than having to tense and relax every muscle in your body, you may find that you fall asleep when you are just half way through the routine.
However, if after this, you are still having problems getting to sleep on a hot summer’s night, perhaps we could suggest another alternative remedy.
The EFT Technique
EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique was developed some years ago by Dr Roger Callahan (http://www.rogercallahan.com). As with many things in complementary medicine it was taken over by various groups of people who firstly learned from Callahan and then thought that they knew better themselves how to teach the technique and set up their own schools. As a result, Callahan had to change the name of the technique to TFT (Thought Field Therapy). Thus it would be our suggestion that you have a look at his on-line site and all that it has to offer, rather than what you may find on various EFT sites that have sprung from nowhere.
Without going into detail about TFT and how it works, let’s just focus on the fact that it uses the energy (ATP as previously mentioned) that travels around our bodies day and night. The simple technique to help you or a loved one (baby) to get to sleep is to very gently tap on a point about four fingers up from the wrist on the left hand (top side of your arm). At the same time say the words “despite all of my cares and worries, I chose that my subconscious will deal with them as I gently sleep”. Just keep tapping gently on the spot on your arm while quietly repeating the words over and over. After a while you should find that you drift off.
Bad bedroom habits
Of course a bedroom should be for sleeping. Under no circumstances should you have a television in a bedroom. It should be a place for relaxation, not for activity. The most common causes of insomnia are psychological: depression, anxiety and tension.
However if you use either of both of the exercises as above, it should help eliminate these problems. If psychological factors do not seem to be the cause, various foods, drinks and medications may be responsible. Prior to sleep the diet should be free of natural stimulants such as caffeine and related compounds, while another substance that must be eliminated is alcohol. Alcohol impairs the transport of tryptophan into the brain, and, because the brain is dependent upon tryptophan as a source for serotonin (an important neurotransmitter that initiates sleep), alcohol disrupts serotonin levels.
So, good night, sleep tight and if you have any questions, or if you would like more specific information, then please send an email to Jim Steele at firstname.lastname@example.org, where we will be more than happy to help.