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Sleep: our resilience super power

Sleep Awareness Week on the 13th-19th March is a great opportunity to remind ourselves of the importance of sleep. Sleep is a basic human need for recharging our amazing bodies and helping us to be the super resilient heroes that we all are - yes, you are! If you've been feeling more super 'meh' than super hero lately, improving the quality of your sleep may help to build your resilience to tackle each day with more vim and vigour.

Read on for some sleep resilience building tips.

Despite sleep being an essential requirement for maintaining positive mental and physical health, for many reasons we may not get our full quota, or the best quality of sleep, leaving us sometimes feeling less full of the joys of spring and more like a wet weekend in Bognor (no offence to Bognor). Can you reflect back to a time when you had experienced a bad nights sleep or a run of sleep deprivation and whether that helped you meet the challenges of your day with resilience or resistance? Sleep has a major impact on how we: think, feel and behave; how we feel about ourselves and the world around us.

Sleep is our resilience building super power because:

  1. it processes the events of the day and creates long-term memories

  2. it lowers the levels of stress hormones in your body and allows your nervous system to rest

  3. it releases hormones into the body for growth and repair

  4. it supports the immune system by releasing small proteins called cytokines to help your body fight inflammation, infection and trauma

  5. it strengthens your executive function skills for complex thinking such as: decision making, problem solving, rationale, logic, creativity and ability to take other perspectives

  6. it literally washes your brain of natural toxins that build up in the day (see below) - how cool is that!

A study in 2019 showed that cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow and slow wave activity both help flush toxic, memory-impairing proteins from the brain. As people age, their brains often generate fewer slow waves. In turn, this could affect the blood flow in the brain and reduce the pulsing of CSF during sleep, leading to a buildup of toxic proteins and a decline in memory abilities.

Getting a good sleep routine in place that starts from the moment you wake up is often referred to as sleep hygiene. We are lucky to have a wonderful sleep doctor on our team, Dr. Lindsay Browning, who explains more about sleep hygiene in her recent blog. My personal sleep routine is to:

  1. Take a walk every morning to de-stress and kick-start my internal body clock.

  2. Limit myself to two cups of caffeine before 3pm

  3. Avoid stressful TV and devices at bedtime

  4. Practice mindfulness meditation (see below)

Mindfulness for sleep includes living and working more mindfully in the day (informal practice) to reduce your stress levels and listening to mindfulness audio (formal practice) to help you be more in the moment. This helps you to switch out of 'fight and flight' and into 'rest and digest' mode, preparing your body for a peaceful slumber. You can read more about the research, how to sleep better with mindfulness and listen to a sleep audio in our previous blog, 'Mindfulness for Sleep'.

If you think your teams might benefit from a sleep workshop, please get in touch to find out what we have on offer or how we can create something bespoke for you.

Happy snoozing!



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