Life Begins At...

Autumn 2019

Life Begins At.....

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lifebeginsat.com.au Autumn 2019 134 SLEEP. WE ALL NEED IT. But are you getting enough? H E A L T H S leep, we know we all need, but how do you know you are getting enough? Research has shown that when we don't get enough sleep, our immune functioning can be compromised, affecting our ability to fi ght off illness and resulting in slower recovery time, and increasing our risk of developing neurological disorders, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. But it's not just our physical health that's affected by sleep. It's important for our emotional well being too. One study showed that individuals under stress who were getting adequate sleep had stronger connections between the amygdala, the emotional centre of the brain and the medial prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that keeps emotions and behaviours in check. However in individuals who were sleep deprived, the connections between the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex were weaker, and there were stronger connectivity between the amygdala and the autonomic brain stem regions, the most primitive part of the brain. These results suggest what I commonly see in my work as a Clinical Psychologist, that individuals who are sleep deprived, have stronger emotional responses to stress and are less likely to make good decisions than those who regularly have a good night's sleep. At the Centre for Mind Body Wellness, I see over and over again how important sleep is for our mental health. I ask almost every client of mine in their fi rst session about the quality and duration of their sleep, and the majority of people tell me that they're not getting enough. For some people they're lacking sleep because they're not prioritising it. Parents are staying up late to get a few quiet hours to themselves after their children are in bed, business owners are checking their emails on their phone until late at night and so many people are mindlessly getting sucked into the rabbit hole of scrolling through social media and multiple cliff-hanging episodes on Netfl ix. We're craving our down time so much, that we're getting it at night, when we really need to be sleeping. For other people, however, sleep is elusive. They're trying desperately to get more sleep, but are either (1) having diffi culty getting to sleep at night, often lying awake tossing and turning, (2) waking in the middle of the night (often around 2am worrying about something from the day) and/or (3) waking up too early in the morning and are unable to get back to sleep. If your struggle with getting enough sleep is due to the prioritisation of it, I suggest a sleep experiment. For the next week, prioritise an extra hour of sleep per night, even if it means giving up something you enjoy, and notice the effects on your mental health. This might give you the motivation to make sleep a priority on an ongoing basis. Sleep deprivation can have a huge impact on our health and well being. Clinical Psychologist, Life Coach and Yoga Teacher, Dr Lauren Tober, takes a look at the power of sleep and the impact sleep deprivation has on our lives.

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