Lifestyle Medicine Week 2021 Day 3

Day 2 of Lifestyle Medicine Week yesterday was all about keeping moving and the benefits of physical activity.

For day 3 we’re going to be doing the opposite – as we take a look at another key lifestyle medicine pillar: sleep.

And as BSLM sleep expert Dr Alka Patel says, it’s all about “sleeping longer to live longer”.

Getting a good night’s sleep (seven-eighth hours a night) can help to keep us healthy and reduce our risk from developing a range of long-term health conditions including ischaemic heart disease and strokes. Inadequate sleep can also increase our risk of obesity and diabetes.

Good quality sleep is great for our immune function and our metabolism and it can also help with concentration and memory.

Sleep is also crucial for our mental health – and can help to manage stress and alleviate anxiety and depression.

Studies have also shown a clear correlation between sleep and cognitive decline – in short it can help us to reduce the risk of dementia. When we sleep, amyloid protein is essentially “washed” from our brains. Sleep deprivation can cause a build-up of this protein, high levels of which have been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

In summary ensuring we address the issue of sleep deprivation and promote the benefits of proper sleep is an essential part of the lifestyle medicine approach. Dr Alka Patel regularly discusses sleep on her podcast,The Lifestyle First Podcast.

And during Lifestyle Medicine Week why not commit to #1change to improve your sleep.?

Watch this video from BSLM regional director for North West London / Hertfordshire Dr Alka Patel for some top tips on improving sleep …

Top Tips on Improving Sleep

Dr Alka Patel

Top Sleep Tips

Avoid caffeine after 2pm: half of this will still be in your system six hours later.

Spend some time outdoors in natural light. Alka Patel recommends at least 15 minutes outdoors in sunlight (even on a cloudy day) before noon. This will help to trigger the essential melatonin surge at night to help you sleep – and helps your hypothalamus to understand the difference between light and dark. This triggers your natural body clock, helping you sleep better.

Get out of bed when you wake up. This is essential to programming your brain to associate bed with sleep.

Try some music: alpha wave music (8-13hz) works best as this is the frequency of your brainwaves in stage one sleep. Listening to this type of music will help your brainwaves to mimic the frequency of the music – lulling you into gentle sleep.

Practice gratitude at bedtime: switch off your phone and spend some time thinking about what you are grateful for during the day. This will help you to fall asleep with a smile on your face!

Where can I go for more information?

BSLM director Dr Alex Maxwell spoke to Dr Helen Lawal on the subject of sleep recently for the BSLM Sound Living Podcast. Take a listen to the Sound Living Podcast.

For the BSLM blog, GP Dr Sheena Fraser recently wrote about the The Life Saving Benefits of Good Sleep.