So we use the term “I slept like a baby” to mean we had a good nights sleep…ok so not my babies at the moment that’s for sure! We have gone through about three weeks of disturbed nights, I think due to the 4-month sleep regression and the onset of teething…yay!…but I really started to struggle with the lack of sleep I was getting…so what better time than to do an article all about sleep!?
Sleep is incredibly important as it is a time for your body, particularly your brain, to cleanse and repair. I am sure you notice how much better you feel, not to mention, how much nicer a person you are, after a good kip! I know nearly everything and everyone irritates me and I find myself crying in the shower if I don’t get my sleep…can you relate!?
At least 6-8 hours a night is recommended, as losing sleep ages you and decreases brain plasticity (the ability of your brain to adapt and change by making new neural connections), thereby causing cognitive impairment (difficultly remembering, learning, making decisions, concentrating etc).
Studies have shown that going 17-19 hours without sleep (5-7-hour sleep cycle in 24 hours) is equivalent to an alcohol breathalyser reading of 0.05, which is the legal limit to drive here in Australia!
So many of us, however, struggle to get enough quality sleep each night with the day-to-day stresses, commitments and obligations we must fulfil.
I appreciate, being a new mother of twins, that frequent waking’s in the night may also be unavoidable. As I mentioned, I have certainly experienced a decrease in cognition and heightened emotions these past few months with the birth of my boys.
As hard as it may be to think of yourself in these times, or when work deadlines and commitments are calling you, I truly believe this is THE most important time to take note and give yourself a break. I always say…”you can’t pour from an empty cup”…so make sure to keep topping yours up!
I know I am a better mother and wife, if I give myself 15 minutes for a bath before bed, with some candles and soft music…and my body feels so much better doing the odd few minutes of stretching and twisting of my spine throughout the day, after all the breastfeeding and baby carrying. Heck I even like myself more too!
If you don’t take the odd few minutes where you can, whether you are a busy mother, or a busy person for other reasons, then things just mount up to a point where your body won’t be able to sustain proper function. This could mean you get sick, or you may even experience a mental breakdown or burn yourself out. Should it get to this state, the choice will be taken away from you and you will be forced to rest…plus it will take you even longer to get your health back on track.
Keep pushing your limits and you put yourself at higher risk of Alzheimer’s, some cancers, heart problems, blood pressure issues, blood sugar issues, and stroke.
OK, so I have you convinced you need sleep, but how do you get that sleep and increase its quality!?
Well, most importantly…you cannot go from a stressful day, to being on social media or watching TV, then go to bed and expect your brain to be able to turn off and go to sleep.
If you have kids you know the importance of a bedtime routine, so why should it be any different for you?
I advise my clients to give themselves at least 30 mins to wind down before bed (ideally 60-90 minutes) and to develop a routine that they do each night in this time, so their body “gets programmed” into knowing its bedtime.
For example, my bedtime routine starts with putting on some calming tunes like Reiki Healing or similar, brushing my teeth, dry body brushing, having a shower or Epsom salt bath, self-massage applying my body lotion or doing my galvanic spa, and 5-10 minutes of stretching. Then I am all set to get into bed and do some mindful breathing exercises as I drift off to sleep.
What’s your routine going to be?
Here are my top 15 tips to a better nights sleep that may help you. You will also notice that what happens in your day and your environment, can impact your sleep too…
- Ensure you get bright sunlight in your mornings – this helps to set your circadian rhythm in place right from the start of the day (if you are a shift worker make sure you have all the lights on!)
- Limit caffeine intake during the day (particularly after about 2pm as it may affect your circadian rhythm by spiking cortisol) – I don’t recommend anymore than 2 coffees a day max – if you are a big coffee drinker and it no longer affects you, then maybe you need to consider weaning yourself off it. Caffeine blocks your adenosine receptors, which help slow neural activity and increase blood vessel dilation, thereby affecting oxygenation of the brain and sleep quality.
- Get some exercise – preferably outdoors in nature. Doesn’t have to be much, a 20-30 minute walk is fine, dance around the house whilst vacuuming or brushing your teeth, stretching in front of the TV…whatever floats your boat!…just get moving!
- Get a massage – this not only releases physical tensions and stresses but will help support your mental health, immunity and circulation
- Avoid bright lights in the evening – I like to use salt lamps for a low, warm light (and decreased fire hazard!)
- Avoid stimulating screen time (nothing that makes you want “just one more” episode!)
- Set your ipad/phone’s brightness to change automatically in the evening – just a flash of blue light from your phone reduces melatonin by 60%! Better still…make after 8pm a phone/device-free time!
- Consider investing in a pair of “blue blocker glasses” that block blue and green wavelengths of light (those from TrueDark or SafetyBlue block both these wavelengths – the “less-stylish” wrap around styles are the best, as these avoid light entering from the sides of the lens)
- Drink a calming bedtime tea (valerian, lemon balm, chamomile, passionflower) – if really struggling talk to your Herbologist about trying Kava.
- Consider a bed time snack of protein and fat, or carbohydrate and fat (experiment to see what works for you as different metabolisms benefit from different food sources – this could work if blood sugar is your issue – e.g. half green apple and peanut butter, hummus and celery with hemp seeds, chicken leg and avocado, raw cacao avocado mousse and Brazil nuts
- Diffuse some lavender and frankincense in your bedroom – I also love doTerra’s Lavender Peace, which helps to reduce anxiety …and Easy Air, which helps respiration and makes you feel calm and clear
- Play some 432Hz miracle frequency music whilst you are getting ready for bed
- Turn off your Wi-Fi router before bed, and remove all electronics from your room to reduce EMFs
- Turn your phone to aeroplane mode before you close your eyes for sleep
- Get blackout curtains and ensure there are no lights from clock radios etc in your bedroom – an eye mask can be used if on a budget or travelling
Done all the above and still struggling!? Then don’t waste any more time!
You more than likely know of the mental stress and active mind that may be keeping you up at night, but there are many other reasons why you aren’t getting enough ‘Z’s.
You may be struggling with any number of things, including:
- Poor gut health leading to low melatonin (sleep hormone) production
- Physical stress from aches and pains
- Chemical stress from your environment or from imbalances in the body
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Parasites – these often get active in the early hours and release their waste products and toxins causing early waking
- Mold toxicity
- Poor neurotransmitter function e.g. low GABA
- Copper toxicity (more info on this to come in an alternative blog, but if you have been on hormonal birth control at all it is incredibly likely you are copper toxic)
- Low or bio-unavailable magnesium
- Slow oxidation state
…all which impact your quality of shut eye.
So! Book in for an obligation free chat with me where I can go through your options and recommend some lab testing for you based on your personal struggles. Let’s investigate what’s happening on a deeper level with you!
We all neeeeeed sleep! …and I want you to get some great restorative sleep so that you can always …feel good from your core!