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Latest posts by Emma Sutherland (see all)

Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?  Insufficient sleep could be affecting you more than you realise.

The effects of inadequate sleep can be far reaching – impacting memory, learning, creativity, productivity and emotional stability, as well as your physical health. A night spent tossing and turning could be increasing your risks of cardiovascular disease and stroke, contributing to weight gain, a decrease in immunity, a heightened sensitivity to pain, impaired cognitive function, and an increased risk of mood disorders.

There are many causes of sleep deprivation: 

Common Lifestyle Causes Common Dietary Causes

Stress & Worry

Environmental – light, noise, temperature

Medical Conditions & Medication

Not enough exercise

Exercising late at night

Jet Lag, Shift Work

Stimulants – tea, coffee, chocolate

Hypoglycaemia – low blood sugar

Eating/drinking late at night

Alcohol

Nutrient deficiencies

Food allergies

It is critically important to realise the importance of a good nights sleep. Research shows that most people require seven or eight hours of sleep to function optimally, yet most people are getting less than six hours each night, and spend their days feeling unrefreshed.

Here are 10 simple steps to ease you into a sweet lullaby.

  1. Leave Your Work at Work
    Worrying about work is a common cause of sleeplessness. Stay back at work to finish up what you need so when you come home you can switch off. Write a to-do-list for the next day if work is still playing on your mind to bring closure to your day.
  2. Ban Blue Light in the Bedroom 
    No TV or laptop in the bedroom! The blue light emitted suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone responsible for regulating the internal body clock’s cycle of sleep and wakefulness. Try dimming lights closer to bedtime to support melatonin.
  3. Develop an Evening Wind Down Routine
    An hour before bedtime start to unwind by reading something calming, meditate, listen to music, or take a warm bath. Ideally aim to be in bed before 10.30pm, and at the same time each night.
  4. Exercise the Right Way, at the Right Time
    Aim for at least half an hour of exercise each day, but avoid strenuous, stimulating exercise late at night. Instead, try yoga, pilates, or Tai Chi.
  5. Avoid the Nana NapThis can really sabotage a good night’s sleep. When an afternoon slump hits, go for a short walk, drink a glass of ice water, or call a friend.
  6. Practice Relaxation Techniques
    Yoga and meditation are fantastic relaxation methods. If you feel like you need a bit of guidance initially, there are some great DVDs and CDs available.
  7. Cut the Caffeine
    No caffeine after noon, even if you feel it is not affecting you at night, it will be. Caffeine interferes with the deeper stages of sleep, so even small amounts found in chocolate and decaffeinated coffee may impact your sleep.
  8. Eat Right at Night
    Avoid heavy foods and big meals late in the day; they tax the digestive system and make it hard to get high-quality sleep. Have a small amount of protein with dinner to avoid your blood sugar dropping during the night, causing the release of adrenaline, which is an instant wake up call in the early hours.
  9. Rethink Your Drink
    Although the tranquillising effects of alcohol may make you sleepy at bedtime, beware – after the initial effects wear off, alcohol actually causes more frequent awakenings at night and less restful sleep. Try a chamomile tea instead, and stop fluid intake two hours before bed to avoid midnight toilet trips.
  10. Know Your Nutrients
    Make sure your diet is supplying key nutrients for the production of sleep and relaxation neurotransmitters, such as melatonin, serotonin and GABA. These include B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and essential fatty acids.

It is critically important to identify if you are suffering from a sleep disorder, and address all contributing factors. Our Naturopaths offer dietary and lifestyle assessment, and are able to offer excellent treatment options for sleep disorders. Book a free 15 minute chat here >>

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