Getting enough sleep?
Getting enough sleep?
The 411 on getting enough Zzzs!
Is your night-time routine making you FAT, STRESSED and ANXIOUS?
By Jasmine Fitzgibbon, The Wholesome Heart
We all know how important sleep is. You’ve been told from when you were a kid that you need to go to bed early so you have enough energy to play all day. Then as you get older you find out you need your beauty sleep…
But really there are so many more benefits to getting good, well-rested sleep. We need deep sleep to assist our mood, body, weight and general health. Sleep is the time our body can rest in its deepest state to repair and grow. If you want longer, luscious hair, sleep can help! You want stronger nails or to heal an injury? Get some more sleep. You will be enabling your body to rest and heal itself. It’s also a time when the brain is processing all the information we received throughout the day and filtering out the information we don’t need. Sleep calms your nervous system and decreases anxiety. Hence, when you are over-tired you become more jittery and anxious.
Did you know your sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same areas of the brain? So, if all of the other reasons haven’t made it clear, when you don’t get enough deep sleep those same hormones sky rocket and drive your appetite! Meaning… you can overeat more easily.
So the real question is, are you getting enough sleep?
> Do you wake up numerous times during the night?
> Do you need toilet breaks throughout the night?
> When you wake in the morning do you feel refreshed?
> Are you hungrier than usual throughout the day?
> Are you gaining weight? This could be because you are always craving sugary and high-caffeine foods to perk you up. You forget to fuel your body correctly when you are sleep deprived.
> Are you finding it hard to concentrate during the day?
> Are you feeling super emotional? (When you don’t get enough sleep your emotions are like a yo-yo; sometimes our bodies find it harder to control things that wouldn’t usually affect us.)
> Do you suffer from brain fog?
These are just a few of things that can happen when your body isn’t getting enough restful sleep.
Sleep can be different for everyone, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all in regards to the amount of sleep you require. Some people only need five to six hours a night, while others need nine to 10 hours to perform at their best. My personal preference is eight to nine hours of sleep a night.
Since adjusting my night-time routine and understanding the amount of sleep that helps my body work most efficiently, I don’t set an alarm. SHOCK HORROR – I know! I simply work backwards from when I need to get up. Therefore I never have to suffer the dreaded alarm and wake feeling sluggish or exhausted – winning!
I used to be a serial sleeping tablet taker. I have literally tried everything to help me sleep: prescription sleeping tablets, melatonin tablets, over-the-counter tablets, herbs, teas, ear plugs (which I actually still use), I’ve tried staying up late, waking up earlier – anything that I read that could help me. However, I have found this little routine to be my saviour. All things rolled into one, it doesn’t take long and it helps me so much. I hope it is helpful for you too.
>>> The Wholesome Heart night-time routine <<<
> Dim the lights
Firstly I ensure all the lights in the house are off, or at least dimmed from two hours before I need to go to bed. This increases the natural release of melatonin (sleep hormone) in my body. In a perfect world I would say phones and screens off, too, but I also know the reality of the world we live in. I suggest reducing your screen time and, if you must, put the blue (night-time) filter on your screens. It’s a simple setting on your phone and tablet.
> Tea time
I have only recently started doing this, but it’s as if my body knows that when the tea comes out it’s time for bed. I like to have something soothing and calming, either a chamomile or a detoxifying tea to give my liver a handy boost before it gets to work whilst I sleep.
> Twist and stretch
My absolute favourite part of my wind down time, I like to take some time to stretch out my lower limbs and do a few stretches to regulate my bowels and decrease the bloat (to assist with having my first bowel moment when I wake up. Yes, poo talk – it’s so important, and I’ll do a post on digestion and things to help constipation soon because I know how many people suffer from this).
I have made it a little easier for you and put links to each one so you can have a go.
1. Standing Forward Bend – http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/standing-forward-bend/
2. Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose – http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/reclining-big-toe-pose/
3. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose – http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/half-lord-of-the-fishes-pose/
4. Fire Log Pose – http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/fire-log-pose/
5. Bridge Pose – http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/bridge-pose/
6. My final pose and the most important (for me) is Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose – http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/legs-up-the-wall-pose/
> Relaxing sleepy oils
Recently I have fallen in LOVE with relaxing essential oils. If there is one tip that ties all of the above together it is this, Deep Sleep oil from Courtney and the Babes. I swear by it. I haven’t been using it for long (previously I would use plain lavender, which is also great for relaxing), but I have found this mix to be SUPER relaxing and helps me stay in my deep sleep throughout the night. I rub the oil on the souls of my feet, rub them together for 30 seconds and breathe in the scent and then doze off into a peaceful sleep.
A couple of other things to keep in mind are to ensure your house is nice and cool, especially your bedroom, as your body temperature drops before dozing off and being too warm can result in disrupted sleep or make it harder to fall asleep. Try to avoid stimulants in the afternoon and evening, things like caffeine and cacao (yes, your beloved chocolate could be keeping you awake). Lastly, try to eat at least two hours before bed to ensure your body has digested the food, otherwise this too can disrupt you from falling asleep.
One last thing, if my mind is buzzing from a busy day and I feel anxiety building, I find it so beneficial to jot it all down. First, write down your to-do list that needs to be achieved tomorrow, from important things to the things that just need to be done – just get it all out of your head. Then set a timer for two minutes and on a blank page (writing works best rather than typing) write down everything and anything that comes to mind. The trick is, your pen never leaves the page. You continue writing for the full two minutes. Write down every single thing that comes into your head. It can literally be ‘nothing’, ‘nothing’, ‘banana’, ‘I have nothing to say’, etc. The key is don’t stop. Your brain will just blurt it all out and get it out of your racing mind. This is seriously the best thing to do. I love to do this even in the middle of the day when I am overwhelmed and have a headache. (If you would like to know more about journaling, let me know and I will write a piece on it.)
I really hope these tips help you. I have found it so important to use this time to wind down, as we are always rushing from one thing to the other and constantly stimulated and it is important to give the brain and body clear signs that it is night time and to stopping pumping out the adrenaline and hormones that keep us going throughout the day.
I would love to know if you have any other tips and tricks that help you fall asleep. Sweetest dreams!
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Jasmine Fitzgibbon of The Wholesome Heart is an Integrative Health and Nutrition Coach and by putting her story out there, it is a step to removing common stigma’s and opening the ‘floor’ (so to speak) for us all to know we are not alone and create a community to grow.
Jasmine now offers a free initial consult to Nourish Melbourne Members and following this, 20% off their first coaching package and 10% off all coaching packages thereafter. Click here for details or if you're not a member and would like to know more about the Nourish Melbourne Membership which welcomes you to save on all things wellness, click here.