Today’s hectic and stressful lifestyle has left many of us with varying levels of sleeplessness. There so many levels and types of sleep disorder that it is not surprising that it is such a widespread problem.
It affects people of all types, all ages (especially teenagers – believe it or not!) and all levels of fitness. Sleep deprivation due to stress, shift work, caring for children or sick family members takes a toll on our wellbeing making it even more difficult for us to cope with the many demands on our time. Broken sleep patterns can become difficult to re-establish, so it is important to use all the available techniques to prevent the odd night of restlessness becoming an upsetting problem.



The Importance of Sleeping Well

When we sleep well we feel 100% better and much more able to enjoy the day ahead. Sleep is essential to life; our body and brain need the five stages of sleep to restore and regenerate. We sleep in different ways at different times of the night, so it is important that we relax into an unbroken sleep that follows its natural progression right through to a gentle wake up with light. The stages of sleep are as follows;

Stage 1
A brief stage which lasts only a few minutes but which can easily be disrupted. The body drifts off to sleep. Brain waves are mostly high amplitude, slow waves and occasional alpha waves (like those we have when awake).

Stage 2
Heartbeat and breathing begin to slow and the sleep deepens. Slow wave sleep continues with occasional peaks of brain waves occurring.

Stage 3 and 4
Our deepest sleep when the brain waves are slow, muscles are relaxed. Dreams are common and sleepwalking and talking may occur in some people.

Stages 1 – 4 are non REM sleep and the brain is ‘quiet’, but during this time hormones are released into the bloodstream and the body repairs itself after the wear and tear of the day.

REM Sleep
One of the most important types of sleep is called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep comes and goes throughout the night lasting from as little as ten minutes to as long as an hour. During REM sleep the brain is very active, our eyes move rapidly from side to side and we dream most vividly. Brain waves resemble those during waking. When deprived of REM sleep we tend to be less adept at problem solving and creative thinking.

We sleep differently at different times of our lives depending on our individual body’s needs. For example, athletes are said to spend more of their sleep in stages 3 and 4 when the body repairs itself. Babies and children experience a larger portion of REM sleep than adults.

Sleeping Beauty
After a really good night’s sleep we also look and feel a lot better – that’s because the body needs time to regenerate itself. Cell renewal increases as we sleep and the body deals with the toxins that have built up during the day. The good news is that whilst we are sleeping our skin is one of the organs that are renewing themselves.




How much sleep is enough?
Generally speaking this depends on how old you are and how much exercise you take. Babies tend to sleep for about 17 hours a day – they have a lot of growing to do!

Older children need around 9 or ten hours and most adults need between 7 and 8 hours a night. This reduces as we get older and sometimes people find it harder to go to sleep later in life.

If we go without sleep, most of us tend to feel drowsy during the day, we find it more difficult to concentrate for any length of time and we may become irritable. We can usually get by with these symptoms occasionally unless we are driving or working with machinery. However, prolonged time of insomnia may begin to create other symptoms such as depression, anxiety and physical aches and pains.

Relaxation Techniques
It may be of benefit to record either of these relaxation methods on to a tape which you can listen to as you relax. Ideal for use with your Sunrise System & Don't forget the SRS250 comes with a FREE MMC card with a selection of relaxing sounds from nature.

Winding Down

* Loosen your clothing and get comfortable lying on a bed, sofa or sitting in a relaxed position.

* Breath deeply and slowly, close your eyes and visualise a location that you find peaceful and restful.

* Flex or contract the muscles in your feet and gently hold for 10 seconds. Relax your feet.

* Slowly moving up your body through your lower legs, thighs, abdomen, back, neck, shoulders and face; gently contract and then relax the muscles as you work your way up.

* Keep your mind free of thoughts. Let them drift away like clouds.

* Breathe deeply and slowly.

* When you feel ready, return slowly to full awareness or alternately press the Alarm button on your Sunrise System and settle down to drift off to sleep to your individual sunset.

Relaxing into a Restful Sleep

* In the hours before your bedtime, ensure that you avoid caffeine, alcohol and eating heavily. Avoid watching lively action films on the TV.

* Make sure that you are ready for bed, that you have mentally dealt with the activities of the day and that you feel settled and relaxed.

* Dress comfortably for bed and check that the room is quiet and at a temperature that you won’t find too hot or cold as you sleep.

* Try and make sure that you won’t be disturbed – if the cat needs to go outside, now is the time!

* Check that you have set your Sunrise System to a Sunset duration that is just right for you and turn off other room lights apart from your bedside light.

* Get into bed and settle into a comfortable position on your back. Breathe deeply and slowly.

* Let all the thoughts of the day subside and begin to focus on your favourite and most relaxing location or reflect on a pleasant and restful memory. Perhaps, try to remember the dream that you had recently or try to experience again the gentle relaxation of drifting off to sleep in a safe environment.

* Any thoughts that enter your head – let them go – like the clouds they drift away. Let all worries switch off until another time. There is nothing you can do tonight – let it all go.

* When you feel ready, press the Alarm button on your Sunrise System and settle down to drift off to sleep to your individual sunset.

* Let your eyes and your instinct follow the natural dimming of the light and drift off. As the Sun Sets, feel your eyelids getting heavier and heavier with the soft dark of the evening. Gently relax to a deep and refreshing sleep, for exactly the amount of time your body needs before wakening gently to a new Sunrise and a new day.

Sleeping with the Sunrise System!
When people ask us about the Sunrise System we generally say ‘we can tell you all about it – but... you won’t appreciate it until you try it.’ In short, we say ‘Take it to bed – Sleep with it!’

The point being that it really doesn’t sound as though a simulated Sunset and Sunrise can be that effective in sleeping and waking. But then you need to think about it. What did we all do before we had nice houses, windows, curtains and electric light? We awoke with the sunrise and we started winding down and thinking about sleeping when the light faded and the sun set. The most natural way to sleep has to be in tune with our natural rhythms. Try it and see.

For further and more detailed information on SAD why not visit the MIND charity website where  you can download or request a comprehensive leaflet entitled, ‘Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder’.

Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal's excellent book on S.A.D. 'Winter Blues' is also available from our online shop.

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