Health and Wellness

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Sleep timing

Are you an early riser or do you like to stay up late and and sleep in the next day? Research has found that people who like to go to bed later are less physically active and may be at more risk for mental and physical health problems. Early morning risers tend to be out and about more and are exposed to more light than those that wake late and stay up late into the night. It is thought that light has a positive effect on mental health.

I’m not talking about the amount of sleep you get – that counts also, but I am actually talking about sleep timing. A sleep study observed that when a person goes to bed or gets up in the morning, could impact on ones health.

To help yourself go to sleep easier and wake up earlier it is suggested that you minimize your afternoon coffee intake as this will allow you to fall asleep earlier. Try and make your bedroom as dark as you can so that there are less distractions while you are trying to fall asleep. It is strongly recommended that you abstain from using devices like your phone, computer or tablet late at night as the blue ray from these electronics can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin – this seriously messes with your circadian rhythm. Melatonin is a natural hormone released in the evening to help you feel tired and ready for bed. Melatonin controls your sleep – wake cycle and if not avoided before bedtime makes it more difficult to fall asleep and wake up early the next day. Late risers enjoy less daylight and studies suggest are more at risk of depression and other health problems. So try for an early rise and get in that extra hour or two of light! Do it for your health.

Meditation

Despite having general healthy habits, anxiety can often prevent us from paying full attention to the cues our body gives. We are busy, we are tired and we are not always paying attention. The mind-body connection, our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes can affect our biological functioning positively or negatively, our minds can affect how healthy our bodies are! What we eat and how much we exercise can impact our mental state positively or negatively. The body affects the mind, which in turn impacts the body (and the mind). Mind body therapies include mediation, prayer, spiritual therapies, creative arts therapies such as art, music or dance, yoga and other relaxation practices.

Benefits of meditation and other spiritual therapies can decrease stress levels, help you to focus better and enhance concentration. Other benefits include improved self-awareness, positive self-esteem, lower blood pressure and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.

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