Good sleep evading you?
A solid sleep allows us to recharge, release tension and reduce stress. But what if your stress levels are contributing to your poor quality of sleep and you’re caught in a catch twenty-two?
Stress is inevitable and normal. Work demands, raising kids, poor health, worry and anxiety can all contribute to elevated stress levels. But when stress sticks around longer than it should, you may notice signs like insomnia or sleeplessness creeping in. Maybe you have trouble falling asleep. Or maybe you wake in the night for what seems like hours.
There are things you can do to ease stress and promote a better quality of sleep. Slowly but surely, you can improve your sleep one day at a time.
Exercise. I know I know! Mustering up the motivation to get the old ticker pumping is the last thing on your mind when you’re feeling tired. Maybe the thought of making time for exercise, or putting on those old sneakers is enough to make an excellent excuse. But studies show that moderate-intensity (puffing but can still chat) exercise reduces pre-sleep anxiety¹. Start slow and find something fun.
Eliminate caffeine and alcohol. Reaching for that afternoon caffeine hit or that evening glass of wine can affect your sleep patterns at night resulting in poor quality sleep. These can be challenging habits to break. You might feel like they provide energy and help you unwind.
Opt for a decaf flat white and ditch the booze and see how it affects your quality of sleep.
Alcohol can also deplete magnesium levels in the body², contributing to poor sleep.
Eating. Yay, fun stuff! Eating plenty of leafy greens, nuts, fruit, whole grains, and healthy meats keeps our bodies full of all the nutrients we need to function. Dark leafy greens are rich in magnesium and folate (which is especially good for restless legs)².
Refined and produced foods (foods that no longer look like they originally did, like white flour and processed oils) deprive us of important nutrients like magnesium.
Eat in the morning to avoid that mid-morning yawn, and ‘feed the machine’ through the day to maintain consistent blood sugar levels³. Reduce the likelihood of reaching for that caffeine or sugary pick-me-up and have the energy to deal with the day's challenges.
Devices. Exposure to laptops and mobile devices in the evening affects how we produce the sleep-inducing chemical, melatonin⁴. Ditch the devices earlier in the evening and let your body do its thing. Scrolling endlessly through that social media as you lay in bed is actually telling your body to stay awake!
Relax. Take a bath. Load it with magnesium-rich Epsom Salts, fresh lavender, or a couple of drops of your favourite essential oils. Either soak in the silence or if you need to drown out the sounds of a busy household, lock that door, pop on your favourite guided meditation, and still your mind.
Passos, G.S., Poyares, D., Santana, M.G., Garbuio, S.A., Tufik, S., & Mello, M.T. (2010). Effect of acute physical exercise on patients with chronic primary insomnia. J Clin Sleep Med2010;6(3):270-275
Haas, E. M. (with Levin, B). (2006). Staying healthy with nutrition: The complete guide to diet and nutritional medicine(21st-century ed.).Celestial Arts.
Craft, J., & Gordon, C. (2017). Understanding pathophysiology(3rd Australia and New Zealand ed.). Elsevier.
Shechter, A., Kim, E. W., St-Onge, M. P., & Westwood, A. J. (2018). Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of psychiatric research, 96, 196–202. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2017.10.015.