The 411 on getting enough ZZZ’s! – is your night time routine making you FAT, STRESSED & ANXIOUS!

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We all know how important sleep is. You’ve been told from when you were a kid that you need to go to bed early so you have enough energy to play all day! Then as you get older you find out you need your beauty sleep…

But really, there are so many more benefits to getting good well rested sleep! We seriously need some deep z’s to assist our mood, body, weight and general health. Sleep is the time our body can rest in its deepest state to repair and grow! You want longer luscious hair… sleep can help! Stronger nails, an injury… get some more sleep, you will be allowing your body to rest and heal itself. It’s also a time when the brain is processing all the information we received throughout the day and filtering out the information we don’t need… It calms your nervous system and decreases your anxiety. Hence when you are over-tired you become more jittery and anxious.

Did you know your sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same areas of the brain? So if all of the other reasons haven’t made it clear, when you don’t get enough deep sleep the same hormones sky rocket and drive your appetite! Meaning… you can overeat more easily.

 

So the real question is…. Are you getting enough sleep?

  • Do you wake up numerous times during the night?
  • Do you need toilet breaks throughout the night?
  • When you wake in the morning do you feel refreshed?
  • Are you hungrier than usual throughout the day?
  • Are you gaining weight? This could be because you are always after sugary and high caffeine foods to perk you back up. You forget to be fuel your body correctly when you are sleep deprived
  • Are you finding it hard to concentrate during the day?
  • Are you feeling super emotional? (When you’re don’t get enough sleep your emotions are like a yo-yo, sometimes our bodies find it harder to control things that wouldn’t usually affect us)
  • Do you have suffer from brain fog?

There are just a few things that can happen when your body isn’t getting enough restful sleep.

Sleep itself, can look different for everyone, there isn’t a one size fits all in regards to amount of sleep you require. Some people only need 5-6, whilst others need 9-10 hours to perform at their best. My personal preference is 8-9 hours of sleep at night.

Since adjusting my night-time routine and understanding the amount of sleep that helps my body work most efficiently, I don’t set an alarm? SHOCK HORROR – I know! I simply work backwards from when I need to get up. Therefore I never have to suffer the dreaded alarm sound and wake feeling sluggish or exhausted – winning!

This is my night time routine. I use to be a serial sleeping tablet taker! I have literally tried everything under the sun to help my sleep. Prescribed strong sleeping tablets, melatonin tablets, over the counter tablets, herbs, teas, ear plugs (which I actually still use haha) I tried staying up late waking up earlier anything that I read would help me!

However, I have found this little routine to be my savior. All things rolled into one. It doesn’t take long and it helps me sooo much. I hope it is helpful to you to!!

The Wholesome Heart Night time routine

Dim the lights

Firstly I ensure all the lights in the house are off, or at least dimmed from 2 hours before I need to go to bed. This increases the natural release of melatonin (sleep hormone) in my body. In a perfect world I would say phones and screens off… but I also know the reality of the world we live in. I suggest reducing your screen time and if you must, put the blue (night-time) filter on your screens. It’s a super simple setting on your phone and tablet.

Blue light Blocking Glasses/ Night Mode on your electronics

Have you heard of ‘night mode’? When your phone is on night shift it adjusts the warmth of your screen and less blue light. Blue light can impact our natural circadian rhythms. Basically the blue light confuses our brain, it thinks it’s still day time and we can keep go go going.

When actually it should signalling the release of melatonin, the hormone that’s cues night time and sleep. So if you struggle to sleep this could be the reason! The mindless scroll before bed could be impacting your sleep. Click here to see ‘how to turn on night shift’.

I also wear Blue Light blocking’s Glasses 👓 when I watch TV at night! I mean I’m not going to force you to be Amish 😅 this is the real world!! I just want to help you get the best QUALITY of sleep. I wear Baxter Blue and Swanwicks – depending on what I’m doing!

Tea Time

I have only recently started with this but it’s as if my body knows when the tea comes out it must be night time? I like to have something soothing and calming. Either a chamomile or even a detoxifying tea to give my liver a handy boost before it gets to work whilst I sleep.

Relaxing Sleepy Oils

Recently I have fallen in LOVE with relaxing essential oils. If there is one tip that ties all of the above together it is this. ‘Deep Sleep’ Oil from, Courtney and the Babes. I swear by it. I haven’t been using it for long (previously I would use plain lavender, which is also great at relaxing) but I have found this mix to be SUPER relaxing and helps me stay in my deep sleep throughout the night.

I literally rub the oil on the souls of my feet, rub them together for 30 seconds and breathe in the scent and then doze off into peaceful sleepy time.

Epsom Salt Bath

sleepy oils and a bath go hand in hand! If you don’t have a bath or not a fan, simply make a foot bath with a bucket of warm water. 

Benefits of Epsom Salt Bath, by simply soaking in a bath, or even just a foot bath allows the body to easily absorb the magnesium which can help relax your muscles, draw out toxins, assist muscle recovery from exercise. Most people are magnesium deficient due to the quality of our soil. Go back 50 years our soil was full of vital minerals, however due to over farming it is now decreasing more and more with every growth . But my favourite reason… it helps me have a deeper sleep 💤 😴 I find it really helps me to relax and release stress all through my body.

Twist and stretch

My absolute favourite part of my wind down time! I like to take some time to stretch out my lower limbs and a few to regulate your bowels and decrease bloat (to assist with having your first bowel moment when you wake up! Yup poo talk – it’s so important, and I’ll do another post on some more digestion and things to help constipation soon. Because I know how many people suffer from this!)

Standing Forward Bend
Image Credit – The Yoga Journal

Reclining Big Toe Pose

Image Credit – The Yoga Journal

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose 

Image Credit – The Yoga Journal

My final pose and the most important (for me) is the

Legs Up Wall Pose 

Image Credit – The Yoga Journal

Room Temperature 

Room Temperature.. does it matter? Ideally you want 18-21C now that’s pretty achievable during the winter months… but whist we are smack bang in an Aussie summer, it’s not ‘that simple’.

But WHY does the room temp even matter, obviously when it’s hot you wake up?

Naturally our body temps fluctuates during the day, then in the evening it starts to cool down, signalling it’s time to release melatonin (the hormone responsible for sleepies)

If you work out to close to bed your body temp will be higher and might cause some issues chillxing and falling asleep – this obvs is different for everyone! – I’m sure you’ve felt that during this summer already! But if you’re anything like me you also have crazy vivid dreams and when you do wake up you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus and ran a marathon… it’s as if you didn’t even go to bed?! That’s because the heat makes our cortisol levels rise, as a protecting mechanism, this causes you to have bad dreams, toss and turn and basically a crapola sleep.

By now you know how much even ONE crappy sleep can impact your gut microbiome 🙅🏼‍♀️

So what can you do?

  • Have a fan on to circulate air in your bedroom
  • Air con on in another let of the house or set to a warmer setting, you don’t want it blasting freezing air in you! 
  • Sleep under a light sheet
  • Keep your blinds closed during the day so the sun doesn’t warm the room to much

Ear Plugs

Block out that noise…
Whether it’s your partners snoring,  cars driving by or even just creaks in the house before we slip into a deep sleep alll these things can keep us awake AND ITS THE WORST!
Sorry mums – I can’t control the babes coming in and waking you up :/
If you don’t have double glazing on your windows you WILL hear everything outside, I feel your pain 😑 so my solution… EAR PLUGS!
I never even thought of them until I met my partner 🤣 and now they are life savers!
If you don’t like using ear plugs, try playing white noise to help your brain switch off and get into that deep sleep!!

A couple of other things try to avoid stimulants in the afternoon and evening, things like caffeine and cacao (yup your beloved chocolate could be keeping you awake!) Caffeine generally stays in the body for approx 8 hours, so if you are sipping on a ‘arvo pick me up’ coffee at 3pm its STILL in your system at 11pm – NO WONDER you cant fall asleep!

Lastly try to eat at least 2 hours before bed to ensure your body has digested the food, otherwise this too can disrupt you falling asleep!

One last thing, If my mind is buzzing, from a solid cray cray day and I feel some anxiety building, I find it so beneficial to jot it all down.

First, write down your to-do list that needs to be achieved tomorrow, from important things to the things that just need to be done – just get it all out of your head.

Then set a timer for 2mins, and on a blank page (writing works best rather than typing on your phone, try both but trust me writing is the go!) write down everything and anything that comes to mind. The trick is, your pen never leaves the page! You continue writing for the full two minutes. Write down every single thing that comes into your head. It can literally be ‘nothing’, ‘nothing’, ‘banana’, ‘I have nothing to say’ etc.  The key is don’t stop. Your brain will just blurt it all and get it out of your racing mind. This is seriously the best thing to do!!

I love this even in the middle of the day when I am overwhelmed and have cranium-strainium! (If you would like to know more about journaling, let me know and I will write another piece on it!)

I really hope these tips help you. I have found it so important to use this time to wind down, as we are always rushing from one thing to the other and constantly stimulated it is important to give the brain and body clear signs that it is night time and to stopping pumping out the adrenaline and hormones that keep us going throughout the day.

I would love to know if you have any other tips and tricks that help you fall asleep, sweetest dreams!

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