It's estimated that we spend a third of our lives sleeping... are you getting enough of it every night? Chances are you probably aren't! What you may not know is that adults over the age of 18 need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. However, when life gets busy and you have kids to take care of, getting those precious hours each night can be hard! During times of high stress, it's often sleep that's sacrificed, when in fact it's what we need most!
To learn more about the importance of sleep and how to get more out of it, I have been reading The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington. It's an incredibly insightful book that talks all about how to transform your life through the power of a restful night's sleep!
What are the benefits of getting a full night's sleep?
Just like breathing and eating, we need to sleep in order to survive! Although there is no definite answer as to why humans have to sleep, there are many theories! According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, we sleep to conserve energy, restore and rejuvenate our bodies and consolidate memories. The brain plasticity theory explains that sleep plays a vital role during infancy for brain development, as they spend a lot of time in the REM stage. Sleep is also important for keeping your memory sharp as deprivation has been shown to reduce learning ability and memory recall!
As mentioned in The Sleep Revolution sleep not only decreases our chances of developing obesity, cancer and infertility, it also plays an important role in cognitive function. Arianna Huffington talks about a study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, that discovered a correlation between poor sleep and poor memory. They found that the protein believed to be the cause of Alzheimer's (beta-amyloid) is more present in your brain when you sleep less!
What happens when we don't get enough sleep?
When we don't get enough sleep, there are both short and long term effects. According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, short term effects of sleep deprivation include anxiety, feeling distracted, drowsiness, memory impairment, cognitive impairment and stress. Drowsiness can also have serious and even fatal effects on our driving ability. In a study published to the US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, going 17-19 hours without sleep can have the same effect (or worse) on response times as that of a person with a BAC of 0.05%. Results showed that response speeds of sleep deprived people were up to 50% slower than those tested with a BAC level of 0.05! If you go without adequate sleep for prolonged periods of time this can also cause high blood pressure, strokes, obesity, psychiatric problems and even heart attacks.
As covered in The Sleep Revolution, sleep is just as important for our bodies as it is our minds. The book also discusses studies that have been conducted on the ramifications of sleep deprivation. Studies include those from the University of Pittsburg and The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle.
What is the best way to sleep while pregnant?
There's nothing more uncomfortable than trying to sleep when pregnant, especially in your third trimester! According to the Sleep Foundation, sleeping on your left side is the ideal position. This allows for maximum blood flow and doesn't place any excess pressure on your liver. The side position also helps to eliminate waste fluids from the body which benefit your kidneys and can reduce swelling in common areas such as your hands, ankles and feet. For extra support, you can place a pillow between your knees and/or under your stomach to support the weight. To ensure that you don't roll over during the night, you can also place a pillow behind your back.
How to get a good night's sleep on your period?
If you find there's nothing more uncomfortable than sleeping while wearing a pad, there are some amazing alternatives!! If you've never heard of menstrual cups, then you need to read my blog post explaining the benefits! Not only are they reusable, environmentally friendly and cost effective... they can also be worn for up to 12 hours while you sleep! They offer peace of mind that you won't wake up to any leakage! I recommend the JuJu cups which are made from medical grade silicone and will last you up to 10 years. Remember to always read the label and use as directed.
Another alternative that I've discovered recently is Modibodi underwear. Made with patented Modifier Technology, these undies contain three layers that absorb moisture, fight off odour and leave you feeling dry. They're perfect for anyone wanting to combat light bladder leakage, period leakage or discharge during pregnancy. To learn more about how the Modibodi underwear works, read my blog post which explains everything!
How to get the ultimate night's sleep?
1. Drink Herbal Tea
If there's one thing for sure, you should avoid drinking caffeine before bed! It's estimated that caffeine can take around 6 hours to be eliminated from the body. So a calm and warming alternative before you go to sleep, is a natural herbal tea. Made from Chamomile, Passionflower and Skullcap, the Edible Beauty Tea No. 3 Sleeping Beauty Jar $15, is totally caffeine free! This gentle tea will help you to unwind and relax after a long day. Together, Chamomile and Skullcap will help your body's tension slip away. Another great option is the Pukka Tea Night Time $7.95, made with a soothing blend of herbs that promote a restful nights sleep. Containing calming Oat Flower and Lavender, this tea helps to settle the mind, so you can wake up refreshed!
If you're a coffee addict, I recommend swapping your afternoon cup for the Kintra Foods Roasted Dandelion Tea $9.95. It's made with roasted Dandelion and Chicory Root that has a taste very similar to coffee! Plus it's caffeine free and helps to treat acne and balance blood sugar levels. Alternatively you can reach for a decaf coffee! The new Innocent Beans range is fantastic because it offers a variety of flavoured beans which are all caffeine free!
2. Bathe in Magnesium
Adding Magnesium to a warm bath before bed can help you wind down from a busy day and when used regularly can ease you into a nice night time routine. You can try the Elektra Magnesium Mineral Salt Flakes $12.10. These can also be used in a footbath if you do not have a bathtub.
For more information on benefits, you can read my interview with the founders of Amazing Oils here.
3. Apply a Sleep Balm
You may have used the amazing Badger Night Night Balm on your kids to get them to sleep at night, but did you know there's a version for adults too? The Badger Sleep Balm $21.95, is ideal for grownups who find it difficult to switch off at night and fall asleep. It's formulated with the ingredient Balsam Fir which works to clear the mind and leave your body feeling warm and relaxed. This balm is also made with calming essential oils including Rosemary, Bergamot and Lavender that soothe the senses. It's perfect for anyone wanting to unwind after a long and stressful day! To use, rub onto pulse points such as under the nose, on the lips or on the temples. Then relax!
4. Use skin care products with the right Essential Oils
When it comes to essential oils, a little goes a long way. If you're struggling to get to sleep at night, switching up your skincare routine could make a huge difference! I recommend looking for products that are rich in calming essential oils that ease your senses to help you breathe easier and settle down before it's time to sleep. My favourite relaxing essential oil? Lavender! Lavender is known for it's ability to relieve stress, tension and inflammation in the body. It may also work to boost the circulatory system and increase the flow of oxygen and nutrients to skin cells, making it ideal for anti-ageing skincare. Essential Oils can not only relax the senses, but also relieve general aches and pains in the body.
For night time, I love using the Dr. Hauschka Moor Lavender Calming Bath Essence $36, which moisturises and soothes the skin while it cleanses. It's filled with nourishing ingredients including Almond Oil, Avocado Oil and Horse Chestnut extract. Another fun option are the Salt & Glow Bath Tea Bags! They're filled with soothing essential oils along with bath salts that can double as an exfoliator. Simply remove the bath salts and buff away dead skin cells!
Once you hop out of the bath, apply the Dr. Hauschka Moor Lavender Calming Body Oil $40.00, all over. This luxurious oil helps to soothe the body and the mind after a busy day. As well as helping to tone and protect the skin it promotes blissful relaxation with the time-tested lavender essential oil.
5. Take Supplements
If you struggle to get to sleep at night, particularly if it relates to feelings of stress or anxiety, you might benefit from taking natural, herbal supplements! Our naturopath recommends trying the Herbs of Gold Sleep Ease $53.50, which has been specifically formulated to relieve insomnia and restless sleep as well as anxiety. It's made with a unique blend of herbs, vitamins, minerals and nutrients that have a calming and sedative effect.
If symptoms persist consult your healthcare practitioner. Always read the label and use only as directed.
To overcome tension and stress that can cause insomnia, the PPC Herbs Sleep Plex also works to ensure that you wake up feeling refreshed. It's actually made using traditional western and Ayurvedic herbal remedies that have been tested for over 20 years.
Contains ethanol. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare practitioner.
If it really is anxiety that is keeping you awake at night maybe try Fusion Health Stress & Anxiety which is formulated using the best of modern western and traditional Chinese Herbalism and is designed to be helpful with the symptoms of stress and mild anxiety by supporting better and more restful sleep patterns.
Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare practitioner.
6. Consult our Naturopath
If you have tried supplements in the past and find that you need something a little stronger, I recommend consulting a naturopath. Luckily for you we have a Nourished Life Naturopath that can prescribe stronger herbs to help with any sleep issues that you may be having! You can contact our naturopath Melanie Ruckley by emailing to receive a full consultation. Our naturopathy services for general questions and advice is absolutely free!
7. Wear an Eye Mask
Creating the ideal sleep environment is important to getting a restful night's sleep. If your bedroom lets too much light in, I recommend wearing an eye mask. My pick? The Morihata Binchotan Charcoal Eye Mask $31.95. Not only does this mask block out any light that keeps you awake, it's also silky smooth and feels luxurious on the skin. This silky soft mask is designed to help relieve tension that can be caused by tiredness, at the same time it may even reduce puffiness and dark circles due to the charcoal content! It's also ultra smooth and can help prevent wrinkles, fine lines or creases from appearing on the skin. If you struggle to sleep on long haul flights, packing an eye mask is a true necessity!
9. Turn off all electronics!
Before falling asleep at night, it's important that you take a break from electronics to really unwind. Stimulants including TV screens, laptops or phones are recommended to be turned off two hours before bed. Research has shown that the light from these screens can actually affect your body's natural production of melanin, which is the hormone controlling the sleep-wake cycle! There is often discussion surrounding the possibility of electromagnetic activity disrupting sleep. According to Nicole Bijlsma of the Building Biologist, exposure to high electric or magnetic fields over a long period of time (including when we sleep) can cause health problems. For this reason we advise that you make sure you switch off your electronics before falling asleep.
The one electronic we do recommend is the wearable Bellabeat Leaf Health & Fitness Tracker! This smart piece of jewellery is a great way to track and monitor your sleep patterns without disturbing your sleep! With options to wear as a bracelet, necklace, or simply clipped on to your pyjamas, you won't even remember you're wearing it! It even has an inbuilt Smart Alarm to gently wake you up in the morning.
10. Nourish your skin with an overnight treatment
While skincare products may not help you fall asleep, you can relax knowing your skin will look better than ever in the morning! The 100% Pure Multi-Vitamin + Antioxidants Ultra Riche PM Treatment $69.95, gives your skin a boost of nutrients while you sleep. It's rich in ingredients such as Aloe Vera and Green Tea which are filled with antioxidants, correcting Vitamin C and reparative Vitamin A! To use, apply a small amount to clean skin, on top of your nightly serum. Another alternative is the Lavera Re-Energizing Sleeping Cream $29.95, which works overnight. It's the perfect way to ensure you wake up with a fresher and more radiant complexion!
As your skin is much more regenerative at night, it's important to lather your skin with as much goodness as possible! The Beauty Chef Dream Repair Serum $69.95, is filled with huge amounts of antioxidants that rejuvenate the skin. This serum is ideal for those with skin sensitivities as it's conditioning and anti-inflammatory. To use, apply a few drops to your face at night after cleansing.
You can't forget about your lips! To ensure that you wake up with a hydrated pout, I recommend the Hurraw! Organic Lip Balm - Moon Balm which is made with 100% natural ingredients that deep condition your lips overnight!