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Sleep ... just how important is it?

Just how important is sleep? Short answer, very important!

Sleep plays a crucial role in our physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, early death, depression, low immunity… the list goes on!

So what can we do to help get those quality zzz's at night? Here are a few key players that can affect our sleep.

  • Anxiety
    • Interesting how anxiety can contribute to a lot of health issues. With regard to sleep, anxiety can sends false alarms to the brain (intense, frequent or continuous) causing abnormal sleep-wake disturbances during the night, which in the long-term is very detrimental to your wellbeing (mentally and physically).
  • Preservatives & Additives
    • Food and drinks that have been modified with additives and preservatives to give it longer shelf life, colour, and flavour (e.g. 'E' numbers on packaging), are artificial substances and are therefore potentially harmful chemicals to our bodies. They can also cause sleep to become broken – therefore preventing you from falling into a deep sleep.
  • Alcohol
    • While alcohol may seem to help you fall asleep faster, once the alcohol starts to wear off your body can come out of deep sleep and back into REM sleep, which is much easier to wake from. That is why you often wake up after just a few hours sleep when you've been drinking.
  • Caffeine
    • Sure we know that having a coffee before bedtime is a big no no, but its not just coffee! Caffeine can be found in soft drinks, chocolate, coffee-flavoured ice cream, hot cocoa, tea... again the list goes on. It is best to check the labels and limit caffeine intake in the evening and from late in the day (or altogether if possible).
If you are struggling with sleep, whether it is failing asleep and/or staying asleep, there is usually a valid reason and solution. Sleep is hugely important to our quality of life – so don't put up with sleepless nights!
Interested in finding out more? Contact Shona Mackenzie on 0220 295 710 or

• My 20 Golden Rules – Jason Shon Bennett
• Encyclopaedia of Natural Medicine – Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno
• Think and Eat yourself Smart – Dr Caroline Leaf


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