The importance of a good night’s sleep

25 May, 2018

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for your energy levels and cognitive function but did you know sleep quality also influences your mood, hormones, gut health, weight, detoxification and risk of chronic disease such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

We are all busy and value our relaxation time, however, many of us do not dedicate enough time and effort to preparing for a good night’s sleep.  We take for granted that sleep will come and it is often not until lack of sleep becomes chronic and begins to impact our health that we decide to address the problem. 

Here are my tips to help you achieve a restorative and blissful sleep every night and feel your best every day.

  1. Exposure to morning sunlight can boost your energy and reinforce your body’s natural circadian sleep-wake cycle.  Make sure you take off your sunglasses and get some sunlight for at least 20 minutes in the morning
  1. Exercising in the morning helps reset cortisol levels which leads to improved stress management during the day and a better sleep at night.
  1. Eating a nourishing and varied wholefood diet is important to ensure you get all the nutrients you need for health, wellbeing and sleep.  Sleep can often been impeded by nutrient deficiencies, such as magnesium, calcium, zinc and vitamin
    B12 which are essential for production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. 
  1. Avoid eating 2 hours before bed and avoid stimulants such as caffeinated tea and coffee after lunch.  Be aware some medications contain caffeine and alcohol can be a stimulant.
  1. Ensure your bedroom has a relaxing atmosphere, avoid working in your bedroom and invest in a comfortable bed and pillows.  It is also important to ensure you sleep in darkness as melatonin is only released in the absence of light.
  1. Avoid exposure to bright lights such as computers and phone screens 1 hour before bed as excessive exposure to bright lights can disrupt our natural circadian sleep-wake cycle. If you must use a screen use the night shift setting or reduce the brightness.
  1. Stress is often the major underlying cause of sleep problems.  Take steps to reduce or manage the stress in your life so it does not lead to a chronic state of illness.  Stress also depletes essential nutrients such as magnesium and B vitamins which then further contributes to sleep problems.
  1. We are creatures of habit, aim to go to bed and wake at approximately the same time each day as this helps establish our natural circadian sleep-wake cycle and improve our sleep quality.

Sleep problems don’t usually develop over night, they are progressive, therefore resolving them may take time.  Be patient, be consistent and aim to break bad habits by establishing an enjoyable and achievable sleep time routine that winds down your day to a good night’s sleep.

Try 2 or 3 of these ideas and find what works for you:

  • Before bed, write a “to do” for the next day to clear and calm your mind.
  • Drink herbal tea such as chamomile, passionflower or lemon balm or a combination.
  • Diffuse relaxing essential oils such as lavender, sweet orange and sandalwood.
  • Read a good book.
  • Take a warm magnesium bath.
  • Meditate.

If you are suffering sleep issues your naturopath Jean at Burwood can investigate what may be the underlying factors and work with you to help improve your sleep, health and wellbeing.