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Sleep and Our Well-Being

March 11, 2021 3 min read

Sleep is absolutely essential to well-being

We know that no one would argue with that, but you may be surprised at just how much of an impact the quality of your sleep could be having on your health and the potential negative effects of sleep deprivation.

Did you know...

  • Pain tolerance is reduced by lack of sleep - a big deal if you are suffering from a chronic pain condition.
  • Sleep deprivation is linked to weight gain and is one of the strongest factors in obesity.
  • Poor sleep increases your risk of chronic health conditions and serious diseases including stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
  • Even a small decrease in sleep time weakens the immune system by lowering T-Cells, a part of the immune system responsible for fighting off infection.
  • Sleep enhances mental performance - cognitive function, concentration, and productivity.
  • Good quality sleep improves emotional processing and reduces emotional reactivity, having a profound and direct effect on mental health.
  • Before midnight is when you get the best quality sleep, as this is when cortisol is at its lowest - these are the hours your body is doing its essential healing, repair, and rejuvenation [these are the beauty sleep hours]!

Stress, anxiety, circling thoughts, pulling night shifts at work or staying up with young children, chronic pain or illness, or simply burning the candle at both ends - there are many reasons and often factors beyond your control, as to why you may not be getting the optimal 7 to 9 hours a night.

Below I share a few tried and trusted 'Sleep Supporters', which can help give you a deeper and more restful night's sleep.

The common denominator? They all support the nervous system! So go with what feels right for you and most suits your lifestyle.

Sleep Supporters

  • Yoga - Legs Up The Wall

Lying on your back; on the floor, a yoga mat, or the bed, with your legs straight up the wall and your head rested on a small pillow or book. This position elicits a relaxation response within the body, calming the nervous system, reducing heart rate, bringing you into the 'rest and digest' parasympathetic state. It's a great way to end a day and prepare for sleep. It also feels really good!

  • Screens - Blue Light Blockers

Blue light from screens and devices interrupts melatonin production, the hormone governing your sleep-wake cycle. Turning off screens an hour before bed or using blue light blockers supports melatonin production, helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

  • Tea - Sleepy Herbs
Lemon balm, chamomile, passionflower, oat straw, lavender, and ashwagandha.
These are some beautiful sleepy tea blends available out there to soothe a wired and tired nervous system, or better still, ask a herbalist to make up a personalised tincture based on your preferences.
  • The Right Kind Of Bedtime Snack
L- Tryptophan is the amino acid precursor to serotonin and melatonin, both of which promote and regulate sleep. A tryptophan-rich snack at bedtime can be a banana, oatcakes, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, a piece of chicken, or even an egg, these support neurotransmitters as well as helping to keep blood sugar balanced through the night - a crash in blood sugar in the early hours can be one of the reasons you wake up!
  • Montmorency Cherries
Not just any old cherry! This specific variety is rich in natural melatonin and studies have shown them to increase sleep length.
Montmorency cherry juice has become increasingly popular as a sleep aid and can be found in most health shops, it should be very tart so beware of unwanted added sugar.
  • 'Brain Dumping'
Okay, this sounds a little strange, but stay with me, it's a super-effective technique that I personally swear by. Often insomnia results from circling thoughts, seemingly urgent at 3 am! Keeping a notepad by your bed to literally 'dump' out anything that is on your mind, from the day just gone or in anticipation of the week ahead, anything troubling you and that you know you need to remember. Then if you do wake up with something on your mind, just note it down so that your mind can relax knowing you will come back to it tomorrow.
  • Magnesium
Of course, we wouldn’t leave out magnesium! Magnesium works on multiple levels to calm the nervous system, reduce stress, anxiety, pain, and tension. Magnesium relaxes both the body and brain and is one of the most important and effective nutrients for improving the length and quality of your sleep.

I hope that you will find something in this post that has you sleeping deeply, and as always, we love to hear from you!
 
What helps you get a good night's sleep?

- Written by Ruth, Resident Naturopath at Amazing Oils :)


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