The Real Reason We Can't Sleep

Insufficient sleep is a public health problem. The stats are scary: the estimated total number of Americans who are sleep deprived is 83.6 million (thats four times the entire population of Australia) yet $41 billion has been spent on sleep aids and remedies in 2015*. We’re all crying out for solutions, yet too stressed and striving to get enough quality shut eye. Lack of sleep doesn’t just give us the morning-after irritability that might be cured temporarily after the first shot of espresso - it’s been linked to chronic diseases like depression, hypertension and even cancer, not to mention the affects it has on hormonal changes, weight gain, concentration and productivity. I’m sensing we’d all prefer to take a rested, energised self in to a new day rather than a tired brain and body.

So, we all know what to do - get more sleep - but why aren’t we doing it? In the relentless pursuit of health are we skipping over the most fundamental of healers?

While investing in superfood powders and hitting up a yoga class each week is a step in the right direction, perhaps we could wind it back to basics and prioritise the pinnacle of vitality: getting your z’s on, and doing it well.

We know life is fast-paced and full, but burn out is not sexy. Tackling stress might seem like a mighty big task so let’s keep it simple with these 5 tips to get you on a magic carpet ride to dreamland.

5 ways to support yourself to a serene night's shut-eye

  1. From sunset to sunrise, use the nightshift mode on your phoneand computer to dim or turn off the blue LED light from your screen. Exposure to blue light suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin**, hence pushing away your bodies natural rhythm of winding down. You can also download flux if a nightshift feature doesn’t come with your product.
  2. Avoid after-dinner tasks that involve brain power. Keep your emails as far away as possible from your bed (I know you are all guilty of this! Scrolling in bed is an epidemic, surely..) and use the power you have over your schedule to keep work during the energised hours.
  3. Invite essential oils to the bedroom. We love Doterra’s ‘Serenity’which is a specific sleeping blend, but there are many to explore to find one that suits you best. A drop of oil on your pillow or rubbed in to the soles of the feet will do the trick. This practice is a self-supporting way to remind your body it’s okay to relax, while creating a sleep/smell connection that you can use to ‘hack’ any insomniac moments.
  4. Set an alarm for five minutes and throw your legs up a wall.Laying on your back, place your hands over your belly and breathe in through your nose steadily and deeply, filling your belly. Make sure to exhale completely to encourage your body to naturally shift in to the parasympathetic nervous system - your state of rest and digest. Do this just before you plan on tucking yourself in and notice your body sink in to heaviness.
  5. Watch your mind talk and be kind to yourself at bed time. We want to shift out of stress and in to rest during our wind-down routine. Our subconscious is picking up on every thought and the way we talk to ourselves determines our life experience. The more frustration you feel when insomnia takes its hold, the further sleep will be from your reality. Trust the intelligence of your body and it’s ability to do the work for you - you are safe to let go of control.   

When not even the dreamiest of night time rituals have you sleepy and you feel wide-eyed and buzzing, know that there is no such thing as perfection. Building a healthier relationship with our sleeping needs may take time and patience, so go easy on yourself and know the less you do, the more efficient you are at getting the rest and rejuvenation your body craves.

I recently ready somewhere (and I’m paraphrasing) that insomnia gives us the opportunity to be with ourselves, in the quiet still of night, without distractions. Next time you’re unable to drift off, realise the opportunity you have to just be with yourself - and what a gift that is.

Sleep Tight, 

The Zura Health Family

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Photo by Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash