Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
Sleep is a precious gift. It has wonderful restorative properties and we need adequate sleep nightly to restore our bodies. According to statistics twenty five per cent of people suffer from some type of sleep disorder. Many people have difficulty falling asleep or difficulty in sleeping for the full night. If you are not getting proper sleep you will be stressed and unable to perform your daily tasks as you should. Sleep deprivation will make you more prone to diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes. It is in your best interest to improve the length and quality of your nightly sleep.
The amount of sleep we need depends on age. Babies need about sixteen hours sleep per day and some adults need as little as five hours sleep but the average is seven to eight hours. When you are properly rested you are in a better mood, enjoy life more, perform your daily tasks with more vigour and reduce the chances of having accidents.
A daily walk is a simple and easy solution to the problem of disturbed sleep. If you suffer from restlessness or insomnia, walking on a regular basis will help improve the situation. Exposure to sun and fresh air helps us to sleep better.
Walking is an excellent form of aerobic exercise. Walking at least three times a week for at least thirty minutes per day will help you sleep longer and help you fall asleep more easily. However do not walk too close to bedtime. As exercise energises you it is better to walk in the morning or early to late afternoon. In that way your body will be in a relaxed state before bedtime.
Exercise produces a rise in temperature. After exercise your temperature continues to drop for some hours. It is this rise and fall in body temperature which facilitates falling asleep. Walking allows a smoother transition from one phase of sleep to another and allows you to spend more time in the deeper stage 4 sleep. In addition the muscle fatigue in your legs after walking acts as a tranquilizer and helps you fall asleep more quickly.
When you walk choose an interesting route. Be alert to what is going on around you. Listen for sounds, observe birds and animals. Change your route regularly so you do not get bored. Greet and talk to other walkers when you can. Behaving in this way stimulates your brain which in turn is another aid to better sleep.
Having a hot bath at the end of the day will relax you before sleep and avoid alcohol and caffeine before bedtime as they are both stimulants and will undo any benefits gained from your walk.
Enjoy your walk and sleep well!