Category: Uncategorized

The Importance of Sleep

Don’t you hate people that can just close their eyes anywhere and kip? Well you do unless you’re one of them. It’s infuriating if you’re like me and need an ambient room temperature, the most comfortable pyjamas, total silence, and of course the most unachievable of the lot no worries. So many people have a love hate relationship with sleep but it is undeniably one of the most important biological necessities for mental and physical health.
If you doubt it please read ‘Why We Sleep: The New Science Of Sleep And Dreams’ by Matthew Walker. Our bodies repairs itself during sleep and our brain does too. Studies show that sleep deprivation may affect our serotonin, dopamine and adenosine levels all of which play a role in emotions and emotional well being. We know the DSM 5 diagnostic criteria for depression include a question about sleep- looking at whether the patient experiences insomnia or hypersomnia. So let’s start taking sleep seriously. Practising good sleep hygiene is hard but try- this includes no screen time before bed. No caffeine for a reasonable time before bed (tolerance varies for each individual). Also trying to go to sleep at the same time every night. Keep your bedroom dark, inviting and only for sleeping – I write this with irony as I fondly call my bed my ‘soft office’ as I type this on my bed surrounded by books and journal articles. I need to adjust my own sleep hygiene!

The Importance of Stretching

We all know how important stretching is for our bodies but I don’t think we really get how important it can be for our mental health. I’ve started to try and remember to stretch to ease the muscles in my neck and the back of my skull to help my head pain, tension and also just ease stress in general. Stretching doesn’t have to be a complex yoga routine (unless you can do that, just be careful not to hurt yourself- listen to you body). Stretching is a wonderful mindful activity and helps with the mind body connection. It releases endorphins, which I always prattle on about.
Most importantly it just takes you out of the race in your mind and puts you straight into the present moment.

The Importance of Dance

I have three daughters who are now teenagers. As my girls were growing up we would do this thing where I would shout ‘Random Dance Party’ at unpredictable times of the day and put on loud music (normally JUMP AROUND by House of Pain) and we would all dance around like maniacs. I never really knew why I did it, fast forward to now and I’m reading around neurotransmitters (‘The Molecule of More’ by Daniel Lieberman and Michael Long) and listening to podcasts by @heytiffanyroe lately and the penny dropped. This is the role of Dopamine. The lovely little hormone is released and is pleasurable but the behaviour that stimulates must be intense and novel – which allows the brain to access logical cognition in the prefrontal cortex and so dancing is exactly that! So dance the day away or at least incorporate a Random Dance Party In your day!

The Importance of Exercise

I’m writing this with the creeping discomfort that I am being a bit of a hypocrite, as this week I have done sod all exercise. But doesn’t mean I can’t share information and really believe in it’s value.
Actually, I don’t have to ‘believe’ it, it has been scientifically proven that exercise does impact positively on mental health.
This isn’t just a zen glorified idea of gentle stretches, while you mindfully meditate. But of pushing your body intentionally.
Sweating and working out aerobically have been shown in studies to improve your mental health by regulating the neurotransmitters: norepinephrine (aka noradrenaline), serotonin and dopamine, as well as releasing endorphins, which are more publicised.
So get out your trainers and get moving to benefit your neurotransmitters in your brain, as well as give yourself a boost, body and health wise. Now that I’ve posted this, I know I have to!