Secrets of Sleep 2.0

12 June 2020

 If you’ve read our previous article on sleep then you will already know that there is a direct correlation between how much sleep you get and how well your body is able and prepared to fight disease, injury, and more. Sleep is one of the most effective armours we have against both short term and long term conditions, with the previous piece considering type 2 diabetes in particular and how important sleep is in regulating the body’s natural response to such conditions.

In this article, we’re following up on the importance of sleep with a deep dive into what good sleep looks like and how to achieve it. We’ll be identifying the different stages of sleep, before considering the negative impact of light pollution, sharing information from a sleep study before picking out some of the top tips on ensuring you get a good night’s sleep.

Let’s take a look at what the different stages of sleep are and what they mean.

The science of sleep

Here at MedicAlert UK, we know that sleep isn’t just a nice luxury at the end of the day – it is integral in balancing your body’s natural routine and production of different chemicals which have an impact on everything from your mood to your weight, fitness level, and productivity.

Frequently interrupted sleep can not only leave you feeling cranky but can be directly linked with long term health conditions and problems – with light pollution one area that is of increasing concern as we bring work and entertainment to bed in the form of our smartphones, tablets, and even kindles.

Enough about the bad stuff – what are the good stuff?

Well, when you sleep, there are five main stages that your body and mind fluctuate between – ranging from the lightest sleep where a slight jolt or sound could wake you up, to deep sleep known as REM when you are most likely to experience and visualise different dreams. The former, light sleep makes up the majority of every night in bed, while deep sleep happens less frequently but is responsible for supporting your core memory and storing of new information and learning.

Sleeping with light pollution – and why it can have such a negative affect

A recent sleep study explored in CNN Health found that sleeping in a room which is exposed to artificial light can increase the likelihood of the sleeper developing conditions like diabetes. This particular study was, interestingly, carried out in China where the exposure to light pollution all night is extremely high – with urbanised areas the most problematic, as explained by Dr. Phyllis Zee, director of the Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine. Despite not being involved in this particular study, Dr Phyllis Zee cited its importance in confirming what has already been found and alluded to in former studies.

As for the science behind this, it is believed that when an individual sleeps in a room that is exposed to artificial light via a device, television set, or other source, both the blood sugar and heart rate of that individual are raised – generating a risk factor of both future heart disease and diabetes. Inconsistent sleep is strongly believed to increase the risk of an individual developing type 2 diabetes, with this study only serving to further existing conclusions and reports.

However, not all light is problematic.

Is all light bad for your sleeping pattern?

It is important to note that these studies all very specifically cite artificial light as being the problem. Natural daylight and sunlight are integral for good health and wellbeing, as a balanced exposure to natural light and darkness is what informs the body’s natural Circadian rhythm which in turn retains a healthy production of melatonin and other core chemicals in and around the body. The more you do to upset this balance and the natural cycle, the worse it becomes and the more interrupted your sleep pattern will be.

Thus, it is not just exposure to artificial light during sleep which is bad for your sleeping pattern, but a lack of exposure to natural sunlight.

Tips and secrets to getting a good night’s sleep every night

All of this information, combined with the insight from our previous sleep study and secrets of sleep article, should leave you with plenty to consider about your sleep and how effective it really is.

So, what can you do to optimise your sleep?

Get your bedroom to the right temperature. It’s tempting to hike the temperature and turn on the heaters in your bedroom to create a cosy environment, however the optimum temperature for sleep is actually fairly cool – sitting at 18 degrees Celsius.

Put your phone and iPad down at least two hours before bed – and if you want to indulge in some light entertainment, pick up a book instead of switching on the TV. The more you can do to cut out artificial light before bed, the better.

Don’t drink any caffeine close to bedtime – that includes tea!

Quality sleep is crucial, not only for maximising your health and body’s natural ability to heal itself, but also when it comes to weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. When you’re tired, you are more likely to reach for snacks and make unhealthy food choices – and your body is more likely to burn lean muscle mass rather than fat stores.

Once you’ve got a better handle on your sleep pattern, try and phase out your need for an alarm. This will not be possible for / will not work for everyone, however the sudden jolt that your body gets when the alarm goes off can cause stress responses and raise your blood pressure.

The importance of good sleep

Despite the title of this article, it is no secret that good sleep is integral to both your mental and physical wellbeing – with quality sleep linked to everything from a decrease in the risk of diabetes to improved productivity, better concentration, higher energy levels, and an overall increase in your mood.

A lot happens in and around the body when you’re asleep – and without it, you are exposing yourself to all sorts of challenges, issues, and potential health risks. Which is why, here at MedicAlert UK, identifying and sharing the importance of sleep is a core part of our work with communities around the world – increasing awareness and educating people as to the importance of getting enough, and good enough, sleep.

For more information on sleep, and to find out what MedicAlert UK does to support communities around the world with their health and wellbeing, visit our website.


So… why is MedicAlert talking about sleep?

Whilst most MedicAlert members won’t find that all, if any, of their health and medical requirements are completed resolved by sleep, it is clear from the above that so many benefits can be driven by good quality sleep and a regular sleep routine. These benefits can help to reduce the burden of many medical conditions on the body and the mind, as well as better equiping the body for recovery.

However, what is also clear is that whilst good sleep reduces stress levels, reduced stress levels in turn improve sleep quality. This is where MedicAlert comes in!

Whilst our primary aim is to keep people safe in emergencies, hundreds of our members get in touch every year to tell us how the service has provided them with peace of mind, a sense of security and increased confidence. There’s no doubt they are sleeping better at night.

If you want to know more about our service, click below or get in touch today on 01908 951 045.



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