The Big Sleep

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We have a lot of people contact us to ask questions about their health, be it for weight loss, healthier hair, skin or nails, cramps, mental focus or stress. This month I wanted to pick on an increasingly worrying topic: sleep.

Every year I hear more and more people talking about not being able to sleep, or sleep as well as they used to. For whatever reason, sleep seems to elude us all at some point, and for some it becomes a devastating burden that can lead to irritability, health issues, weight gain and more. I know from my own experience there can be nights where you are literally watching the minutes tick by willing yourself to fall asleep to no avail. The following day you snap at the other half, can’t concentrate and feel absolutely exhausted.

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So why is sleep becoming much more of an issue, and more importantly, what can we do about it?

One of the biggest issues around sleep is stress. Stress in the result of an overactive mind. Quite often I hear that the reason someone can’t sleep is that their mind is racing, or reminding them of things they had forgotten. Twitchy muscles are another issue, or restless legs as some health professionals call it. This particular problem can be associated with a magnesium deficiency, though it’s always best to speak to a naturopath or health professional if you have any questions.

Being too hot, or too cold are also contributory factors. Our bodies are amazing machines, but much like a car, we don’t run at top performance if we are too hot or too cold. We are asking our bodies to do more, when we need them to do less!

Finally the topic of electronics. I know we are now more likely to have and use mobile phones for alarms and this means that our phone is right beside us on the bed or bedside table and it is way too easy in our connected world to just pick it up to look at the time, see if there is a message, look at said message and ultimately end up scrolling Facebook instead of getting good quality sleep.

So, what can you do? How do we fall asleep and stay asleep to ensure we are recharging our mental batteries for the following day?

First there are breathing exercises – and they really do work! Allowing your mind to focus on breathing helps to relieve some of the over stimulation keeping you awake.

Ensure you have adequate levels of magnesium in your body, and look to supplement if you suffer from restless legs or cramps. Magnesium is a relaxing mineral so taking it an hour before bed will be more helpful than as soon as you wake up.

Get active — going for a 30-40 minute power walk after work (not too close to bed time) will help your body to not only stay in shape, but to relax when you need it to. Studies show that active people sleep more soundly, and wake less often during the night than those who carry extra weight.

Don’t have too many blankets on the bed, or too few. As the nights get cooler, sleep will hopefully become easier, but make sure there is a blanket at the bottom of the bed in case it gets too chilly.

Leave your phone on the dresser. If you must have your phone in your room to wake you up in the morning, put it on the dresser on the other side of the room, out of reach for those pesky social media check ups.

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