Why are we all so tired all the time? Chances are, it is because we’re either not getting enough sleep full stop, or the sleep that we are getting is poor quality. Our busy modern lifestyles mean that we are often working late, or juggling work and family, and coping with many daily stresses from pressure at the workplace to relationship issues, financial stress and family commitments. No matter what you have to deal with on the daily, it is always much harder to cope when you are not well-rested. And if you have a pattern of poor sleep, the problem compounds until you are completely burnt out and feeling desperate for a rest. There is a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture (as any new parent will attest) - in fact, being deprived of sleep can cause significant health issues and can actually be very dangerous as many of our body's functions can be impaired.
So, what can we do to get more sleep, and/or improve the quality of sleep we are getting? First - think about how your smartphone or other electronic devices are affecting your sleep. The blue light emitted from your smartphone can cause disruption to your natural circadian rhythm, as it confuses the body into thinking it is still day time, when in fact it should be winding down for the day and getting ready to rest. Nicola Brown, psychologist and Efficiency Queen, recommends banning your devices from the bedroom in order to allow the body to relax without being disturbed by artificial light. Try to avoid using laptops and other devices for at least an hour before bedtime (no scrolling through your Instagram feed in bed!), so the natural cues for night time can help relax the body and help you fall asleep more easily. If you absolutely must have your device in your bedroom at night (for example, you use it as an alarm), try putting it onto flight mode so you’re not constantly disturbed by notifications and messages throughout the night.
Another way to improve sleep quality is to have an evening ritual that, over time, will signal to your body that it’s time to rest and relax. This could be as simple as unplugging your devices, making a cup of herbal tea (such as Forage+Bloom’s Repose tea, or WelleCo’s Sleep Welle Calming tea), and practising some mindfulness or meditation for five minutes before getting into bed. Using a sleep spray or mist can also set the scene for a relaxing night - try The Base Collective Sleep Spray or WelleCo Sleep Mist to create an environment conducive to drifting off to sleep. A warm bath with some magnesium-rich bath salts can also help you to unwind and relax - The Skin Kitchen Detox Bath Salts or Soak Society wellness soaks are great options. Sure - we all know that this may not be possible every night, because life happens, but a good evening habit most of the time can really pay off in terms of rebooting your sleep patterns and helping you get a great night’s sleep. Also trying to go to bed and getting up at the same times every day can help - although I for one am a big fan of a weekend sleep in, so this may or may not work for you (and may depend on how many kids you have, and how old they are, if a sleep-in is even a possibility!).
Nutrition also plays a big part in sleep, as it does in every area of our health. According to naturopath and nutritionist Dee Copland, many women are relying on coffee to pick them up and get them going in the morning, and turning to wine in the evening to help relax and wind down. While one coffee a day can have some health benefits, too much can have a negative impact on your health. Both caffeine and alcohol are liver loaders and may cause the body to go into fight or flight mode, which means we are putting ourselves into a constant state of stress. Herbal tea is a much better option, and there are many that contain ingredients that promote sleep and relaxation. While it may seem like alcohol helps us get to sleep, it will not give you a quality night’s sleep as the liver will be processing the alcohol before it turns to the other necessary bodily functions, and you are likely to have disrupted sleep and feel even more exhausted in the morning.
Fortunately. there are some supplements we can take that will help with sleep. Magnesium is a mineral that many of us are deficient in, and it can improve the quality of our sleep when taken regularly. Our soils used to be rich in magnesium so our ancestors would have grown produce that had naturally high levels of magnesium, but over time and with the use of pesticides and fertilisers, magnesium levels in soil have decreased. In terms of taking magnesium to increase our levels and improve sleep, it is best to use a few sprays of magnesium oil on the skin, as it is easily absorbed transdermally (through the skin). Oral magnesium supplements can be destroyed in the stomach before they do any good, so a quality magnesium oil spray (such as The Base Collective or ECO Modern Essentials) is recommended for those who are struggling to get a good night’s sleep.
Lastly, ensure you are including enough protein in your diet. Protein is essential for a good night’s rest, as it helps to repair tissue and balances your hormone levels. For example, during the day the stimulating hormone adrenaline is released, but at night these levels decrease and human growth hormone (HGH) is produced. HGH has been called the ‘anti-aging’ hormone, so in order to have optimum HGH levels, we need protein to fuel production (because we want as much HGH as we can get!). Adding some plant-based protein powder (such as WelleCo Nourishing Protein) to your diet to increase your intake of quality protein can be very beneficial, as protein is the essential building block for cell growth. If we don’t get enough rest each night, the body is unable to do all of its detoxing and cell repair, which is essential to our health and well-being. If you have never used a protein powder before, the WelleCo brand is a great place to start as they are plant-based, made from pea and brown rice protein, which means they are not bulky like some whey-based protein powders can be. They are rich in 45 other nutrients so they can be a very welcome addition to your diet if you feel tired all the time and get sick often. Plus, they are delicious and can be used in smoothies, puddings, baking and just simply mixed with yoghurt and fruit. They are also a great way to get a healthy tasty treat if you are someone who likes something sweet in the evening!
To sum up - if you are not getting a good night’s sleep most nights, try limiting your screen time, remove your smartphone from your bedroom, develop an evening ritual that works for you, limit coffee and wine consumption, try a magnesium oil spray and/or include some extra protein in your diet. Sleep well!
Photo credit: WelleCo