It's Sleep Awareness Week, so it felt fitting to release the results from a study I conducted for Nourished Life just last month. It's recommended that adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night in order for us to be at our healthiest both physically and mentally, so I was shocked to find that only 5% of Australians are sleeping soundly every night. After surveying over 1000 participants aged over 18, we found that sleep deprivation is significantly impacting our day-to-day lives, which is not only affecting our general wellbeing and relationships but also our overall safety. An overwhelming 65% of people in Australia are struggling with sleep deprivation or disturbed sleep, 35% suffer from memory loss and 1 in 5 even feel too unsafe to drive.
Why is sleep so important for our general wellbeing?
We know that a lack of sleep can affect our health and productivity, but our research also showed that personal relationships are suffering due to sleep deprivation. 1 in 3 Australians reported that they are too tired to have sex and 14% saying that it has affected their relationship with their partner. A lack of sleep reduces the body's natural immune function, making you more susceptible to infection. More seriously, short sleep can trigger over-activity in the body's stress responses which has been linked to hypertension and heart disease. Insufficient sleep is also linked to a disturbance in mood, thinking, concentration, memory, learning and reaction times, meaning that a lack of sleep won't only affect your health and home life, but how you perform at work too.
What advice do I have for people who are struggling to sleep?
There are a number of steps you can take to help you fall asleep sooner and stay asleep longer. Technology has a huge impact on how we sleep, and one of the things I've discovered to be the most useful is knowing when to switch off. 44% of adults use the internet before bed almost every night, while 17% of people are still completing work tasks immediately before going to sleep at least a few nights a week. Don't think the sleep and technology are linked? A quarter of adults report the use of internet most nights of the week just before bed, and that same quarter also have 2 or more sleep difficulties or daytime symptoms. Try switching off your phone, computer and television at least an hour before going to bed to allow your mind to enter a more restful state.
What can people do to get a better night's sleep?
Life Basics Magnesium Salt Flakes
Aside from having some quality, present, tech-free time, I also use a handful of natural, toxin-free sleep aids to lull me into a restful night's slumber. First, I soak in the bath with some Magnesium Salt Flakes.
When applied topically, magnesium can minimise aches and pains, headaches and migraines, helping you fall asleep easier.
Badger Sleep Balm
I also love Badger Sleep Balm, which is a natural sleep aid for adults and children. It contains a unique blend of calming essential oils including Rosemary, Bergamot and Lavender which work together to gently ease you into a relaxed state so that falling asleep can come naturally.
The Beauty Chef SLEEP Inner Beauty Powder
Try replacing any caffeinated beverages (don't forget, a lot of teas contain caffeine!) with a soothing herbal sleep tea an hour before bed to help calm the mind and wind your body down before you attempt to head off to sleep. Natural herbal ingredients found in sleep teas can help to soothe nervous tension and relieve anxious feelings, reducing the stress which often keeps a lot of us wide awake and restless all night. My favourite is the Beauty Chef SLEEP Inner Beauty Powder mixed in some warm almond milk.
If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare practitioner. Always read the label. Use only as directed.
ECO. AROMA Pure Lavender Essential Oil
I also love using essential oils around the home in a diffuser, or popping a few drops into a cloth to breathe in when required. A favourite is ECO. AROMA Pure Lavender which is a pure essential oil of lavender, renowned for its abilities to calm, ease stress, induce sleep, and encourage a relaxed mind and body.
Kiwiherb Valerian Root Extract
Another natural sleep remedy is Kiwiherb Valerian Root Extract, which you dilute in a glass of water whenever you need to relax as it will gently sedate you during times of stress and help you doze off and achieve a restful sleep. This product is really great for those who are prone to mild anxiety or suffer from insomnia. If symptoms persist please consult you healthcare practitioner. Use only as directed. Always read the label. Contains ethanol.
Philip Stein Slim Sleep Bracelet
I know I said to beware of tech, but there are a handful of really clever devices that can actually help you sleep soundly. I love using the Philip Stein Slim Sleep Bracelet which is designed to help you sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed. Philip Stein's Natural Frequency Technology harnesses electrical frequencies emitted by the brain when in a calm and relaxed state to match the natural electromagnetic waves that constantly surround the earth, helping the body naturally tune into the frequency, sleep is aligned.
Source: Report to the Sleep Health Foundation 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults