January is a healthy month for many of us.
Whether you like to make new year resolutions and set yourself healthy goals or you’re someone who gets on the bandwagon of the latest health fad, a lot of us start the year with the best intentions.
So you’ll be interested to hear that this year’s health trend doesn’t involve complicated gym equipment, expensive juicers or fruit you’ll struggle to find in the stores.
To get on board with the 2017 health trend you need little more than… your bed.
You’ve heard about clean eating, well it’s time to learn about clean sleeping.
In her new book, ‘Clean Beauty’, Gwyneth Paltrow talks about how important getting your eight, or even 10 hours is.
Explaining how sleep should be a higher priority than diet, she says it affects everything from appetite to mood and the quality of your hair.
It’s something Hong Kong-based Elizabeth Broomhall has known for years.
She says: “When I get enough sleep I notice a massive difference in my skin, I don't gain weight as easily and can cope with stress much better. I also recently injured my hamstring -- which I swear was due to sleep deprivation as I was working overnight shifts and exercising hard during the day on minimum sleep. In my opinion sleep and water are two of the most important things for your health.”
And UAE-based Doctor Jenna Alice Burton wholeheartedly agrees.
“Sleep always has and always will be, a fundamental component of our existence,” she explains. “Yet, although sleep is necessary, to obtain good quality and sufficient quantity of sleep is a real luxury that few have the pleasure of on a day to day basis.
“The benefits of a good night sleep are vast – from helping to control appetite, improving skin, improving energy levels, improving your mood to even reducing the risk of diabetes and improving one’s lifespan. Though in this modern day of stress, children, fast paced lifestyles and poor quality sleep hygiene, few manage to get their seven-eight hour a day requirement of uninterrupted sleep to re-fuel for the following day.”
While Gwyneth’s advice may be new to some, it’s something people often realise as they get older says Dr Jenna, who is the group health and wellness manager at Anglo Arabian Healthcare.
She adds: “Many of the population reaching their 30s and 40s are attempting to make amends. Word is out about the benefits to a good night’s sleep. Many mothers and professionals have started heading up to bed much earlier than when they were in their twenties, aware of the effects of sleep deprivation.”
One such woman who has realised the benefits of getting enough sleep is mum to two boys under five years old, Reem who lives in Saudi. As well as getting her eight hours, she enjoys relaxing in the bedroom before sleep as she relishes the time to herself.
She says: “I don’t get ill very often so I think it keeps you healthy. I also think lack of sleep ages you.”
UK based Kerry Blemmings takes her sleep very seriously as well.
She says: I like to get at least eight hours sleep. I feel I can cope better at work. Sitting at a desk all day can be a struggle if I’m tired. I stay up later at weekends but I have a lie in. It’s weird but I set my alarm and know not to wake up before it so I know I’ve had a decent sleep. If I’m anxious the day before work I’ll pop a few natural sleep tablets to help.
“I know I’m more active after a good night’s sleep, I don’t cancel the gym or plans and I feel my skin improves with more sleep.”
And it goes one step further for Dubai-based mum Leandra Meintjes who believes good sleep followed by a workout can’t be beaten.
She says: “Sleep helps you lose weight for sure, it releases endorphins and gets you ready for that early start. Start the day with an early run and you are set to go for the day.”
So, no spiralizing, juicing, body wrapping or complicated workouts that leave me with sprained ankles, I think the health fad of 2017 is one I may well be able to get on board with!
Zzz list benefits
People of all ages need their sleep but our ability to fall and stay asleep reduces over time, says Dr Jenna Alice Burton from UAE-based Anglo Arabian Healthcare. So, even though we may head up to bed with the best intentions of a full night’s sleep, this is not always the case.
She explains: “Many find themselves lying awake unable to nod off or opening their eyes at 3am. We are unable to alter the way our minds process sleep as we get older, but we are able to improve our sleep hygiene to provide our minds and bodies with the best possible chance of a good nights sleep. As our sleep hygiene improves, we ‘train’ ourselves to a life of improved sleep.”
Getting yourself into good sleep habits at a young age will stand you in good stead as you get older.
Dr Jenna shares the following tips to help people improve their sleep hygiene:
• Limit daytime napping to 30 minutes at a time.
• Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine close to bedtime and try not to eat within an hour of going to bed.
• Exercise regularly to promote good quality sleep.
• Ensure adequate exposure to natural light during the day time to activate your diurnal rhythm and then ensure a relaxing sleeping environment. Turn off computers, avoid harsh lighting and close your blinds. Try not to look at anything with a back light for 30 minutes prior to sleeping. This includes phones, computers and iPad.
• Try to leave approximately an hour between finishing work and going to bed.
• If you are having trouble with your sleep, visit your doctor. Contrary to popular belief, sleeping tablets are usually not in the best interest of patients and are often not the answer to problems with sleeping patterns. Your doctor may be able to make some further suggestions or refer you for psychological intervention which can establish the root cause.