Sleep is such an important part of our lives, but what actually is sleep and what does it do for us?
During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.
The damage from sleep deficiency can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.  Researchers have linked poor sleep to a number of ailments, from short-term memory loss and behavioural problems, to weight gain, diabetes, and even increased risk of cancer, just to mention a few. 
If we spend too much time indoors, in a windowless office during the day and in front of the TV, computer screens and mobile phones in the evenings, insomnia can soon set in because our brains struggle to determine what time it is.
The combination of light deficiency during the day and excessive light exposure at night causes your biological clocks to get out of sync.
A 30-60 minute exposure to outdoor light every day helps to anchor our circadian rhythm.  This means that our master clock is set to be awake and alert during the day and to rest and sleep during the night.
After sustained periods of sleep disruption, we can be left feeling agitated, grumpy, stressed and on high alert. It then becomes ever more difficult to get to sleep, and thus becomes a stress in itself, and the cycle continues.
Reflexology can also help with problems like this, as it allows a time and place for deep relaxation to occur. The appointment is in your diary. You are expected to lay back. You are expected to maybe close your eyes. You are expected to relax. Once in a state of deep relaxation, the body can begin to switch off the “high alert” and allow the parasympathetic nervous system to do its work, increasing digestion, immunity, libido, and most importantly here, providing a good environment for resetting the master clock to promote a healthy sleep pattern.
Combine regular reflexology with reduced time spent in front of TV and computer screens, particularly in the evenings, reduced consumption of stimulants during the evenings (such as alcohol and caffeine), and a good dose of outdoor light during the day, and you should be well on your way to a better night’s sleep.
For more of me on sleep, melatonin and circadian rhythm see my other blog post on the Winter Blues.
Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net