Posted: 11 March 2022


 

              

A Naturopath's Guide to Deeper Sleep

 
 

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We all know that sleep is essential for good health. If we don’t catch enough Z’s, the body can’t function at its best. Sadly, an enormous 59.4% of Aussies experience sleep disturbance on a weekly basis… meaning there’s a good handful of tired people out there!

While we’re in a deep slumber, the body gets to work at cell regeneration, tissue repair and growth, strengthening immune function, fighting inflammation, processing the day’s information (hello, memory!) and lowering cortisol, our stress hormone. Basically, the stuff we need to avoid feeling like a sack of potatoes.

Many people are quick to jump on some sort of sleep-aid medication or supplement without looking at their diet and lifestyle habits first. So, let’s dive in!

 

 

 

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Time your caffeine habits

 

You most likely know where I’m going here, but it’s an important reminder! Its best to keep your caffeine consumption to a maximum of one serve per day and before midday. Studies have shown that caffeine consumed six hours before bed reduce sleep duration by one hour, so it might be worth reconsidering that afternoon pick-me-up. It’s important to remember that caffeine is also found in soft-drinks and some herbal teas such as black tea, green tea, matcha and white tea.  

Choose carbohydrates rich in fibre and nutrients such as brown rice, quinoa, whole rolled oats, legumes, potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, corn, beetroot and fruits.

 

Bedroom environment

 

The best mattress is one reserved solely for sleep and sex. As much as I enjoy the odd desert and Netflix in bed, it’s best to avoid eating, working and scrolling in bed. This allows the brain to associate bed with sleep. Another important factor to consider is temperature. The body sleeps best in an environment between 19 to 25°C with plenty of ventilation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Booze and bedtime

 

Although a glass of red may help you drift into a deep slumber, it doesn’t mean you’re sleeping well. Alcohol interferes with the four stages of sleep, leading to a poor quality slumber. One study found that just one serve of alcohol can affect sleep up to 24% and more than one serving can affect sleep up to 39.2%. In saying this, it’s best to keep your vino and margarita consumption for special occasions! 

 

Choose good quality soy products that are not genetically modified and consider soaking, sprouting or fermenting to enhance absorption of nutrients. Tempeh (fermented tofu) and edamame are great options and of course, consume in moderation. 

 

Greens, grains and chocolate

 

I’m hoping the chocolate caught your attention. Dark chocolate, green leafy vegetables, avocadoes and wholegrains such as brown rice and quinoa contain magnesium. Magnesium is a magical mineral for sleep as it helps regulate melatonin, activate the parasympathetic nervous system (our ‘rest and digest’ system) and so much more. Studies have linked deficiencies in magnesium with disturbed sleep and clinical insomnia. So, it’s best to get chomping!

 

 

 

 

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Wind-down rituals

 

The body loves routine so creating a wind-down ritual will signal to the brain that it’s time to start slowing down and producing melatonin in preparation for sleep. A healthy ritual may look like:

 

  • A set sleep and wake time, aiming for a minimum of 7 hours sleep
  • Dim lights a couple of hours before sliding into bed to further enhance melatonin production.
  • A warm shower or bath to relax and calm both body and mind
  • Avoiding physical and mental stimulation after dinner, such as exercise
  • Reading a book 30 minutes before bed
  • Avoiding technology 60+ minutes before bed

 

Sleep is such a precious thing and it really can dictate how we feel on a daily basis. If you’re struggling with sleep or waking unrefreshed, I urge you to first consider your diet and lifestyle habits. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

 

 

 

 

              

About the Author         

 
 

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Laura Ballin is a Clinical Naturopath (BHSc) passionate about empowering individuals to reconnect with their body and return home to their true-self. After battling with an eating disorder and various digestive concerns, Laura has a special interest in the gut, mental health, women’s hormonal health and skin conditions. Laura is available for consultations in South-East Queensland and online.

            
 

 

              

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Website: www.odetoself.com.au

            

Instagram: @ode.toself

            
 

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