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  • Writer's pictureEmily V

WHY A GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP IS CRUCIAL FOR OPTIMAL HEALTH


When it comes to self-care, although a facial can be nice, most of us really need to get back to basics and in practice, I would put better sleep quality at the top of the priority list for clients.

Unfortunately, as a society many of us are walking around like zombies with chronic long -term sleep deprivation, and the result is impacting on our mental and physical health.


Modern day factors which contribute to sleep disruption include overstimulation from screen usage, chronic stress, overconsumption of caffeinated drinks, and medical conditions.


The reality is these all lead to both short- and long-term adverse health consequences.

A non-systematic review designed to focus on the myriad of parameters that cause sleep disruption, showed that poor sleep was associated with increased over stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, metabolic effects, changes in circadian rhythms, and pro-inflammatory responses.


In otherwise healthy adults, short-term consequences include increased stress responsivity, somatic pain, reduced quality of life, emotional distress and mood disorders, and cognitive, memory, and performance deficits [1].


Long-term consequences of sleep disruption in otherwise healthy individuals include hypertension, dyslipidaemia, cardiovascular disease, weight-related issues, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and colorectal cancer [1].


As a rule of thumb, a good sleep routine is the key to ensuring you get the best night sleep possible.


Here are some tips which can be incorporated into nightly wind down routine to help fall asleep quicker and stay asleep for longer:


  • Wake up to natural light. Sunlight exposure in the morning will set your circadian rhythm with the natural cycle of the sun, and boost serotonin your happy hormone throughout the day. Without enough serotonin, you may not make enough melatonin and that is going to impact your ability to fall sleep later. Remember serotonin = melatonin.

  • Avoid eating late at night: Eating after around 8pm can have a few health consequences but it’s mainly going to disrupt sleep because your body now has to work to breakdown and digest food. It’s also going to slightly increase inflammation, and contribute to weight gain as you are not using the energy consumed when you are going to bed. Aim to shift your eating window earlier if possible.

  • Switch off overhead lighting at night. Bright lights at night can mess with your melatonin production.

  • Avoid blue-light exposure from screens (phones, laptops, Netflix – Yes Netflix) at least 1-2 hours before bed. You could try some blue-blockers if you must be infront of a screen at night, or grab a book or listen to a podcast in that last hour to give your natural melatonin a chance to set your circadian rhythm. If you must be on a screen right up to bed time, consider investing in some blue-light filter reading glasses. Melatonin is not just important for our sleep, it’s also involved in managing immune function, blood pressure and cortisol levels [2].

  • Aim to be in bed by 10pm at the latest. It’s fair to say that this is not always going to be the case. The reason its important though, is because for your body to repair and clear toxins it needs deeper restorative sleep around midnight to do so.

  • Moving your body particularly if you’ve had a stressful day helps to clear excess cortisol which means you get to stay asleep longer throughout the night. Low impact gentle exercise is best like yoga, or a 30 min walk.

  • Enjoy a sleepy time tea which includes adrenal loving and nervous system soothing herbs such as Licorice, Chamomile, Siberian Ginseng, Lemon Balm, Skullcap, Passionflower, Lavender and Valerian.

  • A good magnesium supplement preferably in an easily absorbable form such as Magnesium Citrate can help as research has shown that a dose of 300-500 mg daily improved insomnia [3], or you could try a magnesium salt bath to wind down before bed for a topical option.

  • Bach Flower remedies are one of my favourites particularly if you have a very busy mind and lots going on then White Chestnut is for you.

If you have chronic issues with sleep and it is affecting you day to day, there may be something we can do to help and get to the bottom of why. There are so many natural ways to support healthy sleep. If you feel like you need some support in this area book an appointment here: https://www.passionflowernaturopathy.com.au/book-online



Sources:

1.PMID: 28579842

2.Healthline Article, “Melatonin: Benefits, Uses, Side Effects and Dosage”, R. Link, Sept 14, 2018

3. Sleep Foundation. Org: How Magnesium can Help you sleep, E. Chahine, May 20, 2021


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