The secret to a great night's sleep

Mental Health & Sleep

It's no surprise that how we're feeling can affect our mental health. Ever tossed and turned the night before a big test, or struggled to sleep after an argument? Both are fair explanations for sleepless nights.

Of course, a better night's sleep will see you wake up refreshed and in better physical and mental condition the following day - but why exactly is this? Our sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, has spent more than 25 years researching how a bad night's sleep affects physical and mental wellbeing. She tells us how a good night's kip can help people to get over feelings of bitterness, paranoia, hopelessness, anger and frustration.

According to Dr Nerina, the first two hours of sleep we get are vital in rebalancing metabolism and reducing stress levels, but astonishingly the sleep we get from 9pm-11pm can also help to rebalance feelings of hopelessness, confusion and paranoia.

Between the hours of 11pm and 1am our muscles start to repair themselves, and our feelings of bitterness and resentment are gradually alleviated.

According to Dr Nerina, missing these vital chances for our emotions to be rebalanced can lead us to feel generally unhappy, and those who miss the first stage of sleep often feel stagnant and stuck in life, lacking in motivation and a sense of purpose.

Dr Nerina says: "As part of my study into sleep I have researched Eastern and Western sciences which offer ways of looking at how we live our lives, and how sleep impacts our physical and emotional wellbeing. Both Eastern practices and Western science indicate that the different phases of deep sleep rebalance the mind and body in different ways, and missing out on certain stages of sleep can have negative consequences.

"Adrenal and thyroid problems tend to affect night owls as they miss out on the initial pre-midnight phase of sleep. They often find it hard to get up in the morning and feel groggy, and they often have difficulty concentrating during the day.

"Between the hours of 1-3am our bodies are working to rebalance our feelings of fear, anger, frustration and rage, so experiencing sleep disturbances in these vital hours can have a detrimental effect on our mood the following day."

The final deep sleep phase, which takes place between the hours of 3am and 5am, releases toxic waste from lungs, hence why smokers tend to cough in the morning. The final deep phase is also vital in alleviating feelings of grief and sadness.

Dr Nerina said: "Those suffering with depression typically wake in the early hours and miss their 3-5am sleep, which is vital for rebalancing sadness and grief."

Dr Nerina's advice is a compelling reason for us all to adopt a better sleep routine. We recommend giving Dr Nerina's tips a try to help you on your way. Let us know what's working for you over on Facebook and Twitter .

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