Daylight saving

Nicola - Monday, March 30, 2015

sleeperimages (3)

Lack of restorative sleep has multiple health consequences and is a risk factor to physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.  We are soon to ‘advance’ an hour however that one hour change will take at least 24 hours for your brain, mind and body to adjust too.  Our brain is the ‘master clock ‘and manages all other systems including cardiac rhythm, to immune function, metabolism, and mood regulation.  By changing one hour all systems need to be adjusted.  Importantly our brain works less well too- even after such a small disruption – with slower reaction times, indecision, poor memory, and low mood being common.  Whilst the Autumn change may be celebrated as an extra hour of sleep, studies suggest that in reality there is no extra sleep.  The cumulative effect of day light saving for Spring and the Autumn transition are associated with increased traffic incidents and heart attacks over the few days following changing the clocks.  So prepare yourself by making 15 minute adjustments for the few days prior, and assist sleep generally by maintaining good sleep habits.

• Have a set bedtime routine as this cues the brain to sleep mode (melatonin)
• Make sure your room is dark and as quiet as possible
• Ensure the room is dark and quiet – avoid bright alarm clocks
• Turn off the screens at least 30 minutes before sleep – the light emitted disrupts your brain ‘sleep’ mode
• To sleep you body temperature needs to lower – so make sure your bedroom / bedding is not too hot
• Avoid all stimulants – drugs, alcohol, smoking and caffeine before bed
• Have a regular wake up time as this sets the brain to action (serotonin for normal energy)



Meaning and purpose

Nicola - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

himalyaysimages (3)

Whether it be through religion, spirituality, or a world view, having a sense of yourself as part of something bigger and that life has meaning is good for your brain, body and mind health.  

If you have not thought about what meaning is for you just take some time to think of your priorities – what do you value most ? what are your passions?    Importantly translate that meaning to give yourself a sense of purpose and live life accordingly.  It does not have to be grand jesters –  simply practising kindness and compassion in daily life has huge positive benefits for yourself and others, or it may mean you volunteer for a cause, spend more time with family / friends, celebrate the natural world, or create.

Whilst health researchers have known for a long time that meaning and purpose improve body health and psychological wellbeing, neuroscience research indicates that having a strong sense of purpose lowers brain tissue damage – so find what drives you, your raison d’etre and live accordingly.