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Sleep as Part of a Happier, Healthier and More Productive Work Life

Following his visit to the London office, discussing healthy lifestyle with the Morgan McKinley team, health coach Matt Ireland appears in the first of six bitesize videos.

Earlier this year health coach Matt Ireland came in to talk to Morgan McKinley London about healthy living and how we can improve our lifestyles both inside and outside of work. Matt coaches on six foundations: sleep, hydration, nutrition, breathing, movement and thoughts.

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Following up on his visit Matt shares six bite-size videos looking at practical ways we can improve in each foundation. In this first clip we look at sleep and how this affects us both in and out of  work on an everyday basis.


It’s much easier to improve your health when you are getting enough sleep. If you wake tired you are more likely to reach for caffeine or a sweet treat as a quick pick-me-up. Now unfortunately this starts a downward spiral that keeps you reliant on the pick-me-up which will have a negative impact on your sleep. You are also less likely to do what is needed to live a healthier lifestyle, so take part in your exercise program, or cook the meals that you need to do.

Our Sleep Cycles

Now our sleep has developed on the rise and fall of the sun and is governed by two hormones. First, in the morning around 6:00 am cortisol is released and it's cortisol’s job is to get the body up and active for the day. Your cortisol levels will peak around 9:00 am and start to tail off from around midday. At 6:00 pm in the evening melatonin is released and its melatonin’s job to prepare the body for sleep. During sleep the body goes through two repair cycles. Firstly, at 10:00 pm in the evening the body will go through physical repair. This is bones, muscles, joints and organs. At 2:00 am the body will switch to psychological repair, this hormonal and nervous system. 

Regardless if you go to bed at 10:00 pm 11:00, 12:00 or 1:00 am. At 2:00 am your body will switch to psychological repair because it deems your hormonal and nervous system more important to survival than your muscle, bones, joints and organs, which they are. So to ensure you get enough time in both sleep cycles. I would recommend to try and get to bed as close to 10:00 pm as you can.

Trouble Falling Asleep? Or Awaking During the Night?

Lots of people struggle with their sleep, whether it’s falling asleep in the evening or once asleep, waking up in the early hours.  If you struggle to fall asleep at night this is a clear sign that you are doing too much in your day or your body is under too much stress. 

When our body deems something as stressful it will release a hormone called cortisol which gives the body the energy to get through that period of stress. So if you are doing too much, or your life is too stressful, your cortisol levels are spiking. This stops the melatonin from increasing which is why you are tossing and turning on the pillow at night.

Lots of people blame stress for the reason of waking them up in the early hours of the morning. Now I am not saying it’s nothing to do with stress but it’s more likely to be linked with your diet. When your blood sugar levels drop in the day your body responds by telling you that you are hungry. You eat more food to re-raise your blood sugar levels. When you are asleep you don't respond to these signals so fortunately your body can release stored energy to re-raise your blood sugar levels, but the problem is it uses cortisol for this process. As mentioned cortisol is an awakening hormone so the reason you are awake is because cortisol has been released, your body thinks it’s morning, it’s time to get going.

Now the reason people blame stress is because, if you are stressed that source of stress is never far away. So your replaying it over and over in your mind, not only do you have to wait for your cortisol levels to drop, your melatonin levels to rise, you have also go to fight with your mind that’s replaying this situation more and more and keeping you awake. 

Sleep is a really big part of your health, and it’s an area if you want to improve the way you feel, it’s something you need to pay a lot of concentration to and get it right. 
To do that, focus on getting eight hours sleep a night and try to get to bed as close to 10:00 pm as you can.

  • Oct 11, 2016
  • Culture
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Lainey Gower

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