Over the past few weeks more and more clients are asking for sauna sessions to help them sleep and yet don't seem to have tried any natural alternatives. No-one seems to get enough sleep, nor experience a good quality sleep. Sleep is just as important as any other aspect of our health. It helps us consolidate learning and memory, repair muscle tissue and is when our body completes a lot of detoxification. So if we're not sleeping well, we don’t remember as well, we’re not recovering from a workout as well and we’re backing ourselves up with toxins.
This blog is to help you understand what may be getting in the way of you enjoying a good sleep, and to give you some tips on getting a better sleep. If you want me to share my super sauna session for sleep get in touch.
What contributes to a poor sleep?
- Eating right before bed can compromise our sleep in two ways.
Two or so hours after eating, our blood sugar can crash which wakes us up in search of food to balance things out. Always wondered why you need that midnight snack? Also, digestion takes up a lot of our body’s energy. This means when we are sitting in bed trying to sleep, just after eating, our body is focused on digesting the food and not shutting down the body for sleep like it should. This can lead to us lying awake for a long time.
- Using LED backed devices such as a TV or iPhone stimulates brain activity. Studies have shown that exposure to Blue LED backing light before bed delays the release of melatonin and disrupts our circadian rhythm, leading to poor quality sleep.
- Alcohol before bed dehydrates us and has us waking up hours later for water. Alcohol before bed also inhibits our brain from being able to go into REM sleep which is said to be the most restorative phase of sleep.
What defines a good sleep?
Sleep is about quality, not quantity. A good sleep is not defined by the number of hours you sleep. Ever wake up feeling more tired than when you went to sleep? This can be caused by a number of issues; however most likely is due to the fact you are waking up during one of the deeper phases of sleep. Our body has three sleep phases. Light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep (the one everybody knows). Each phase lasts 30 - 45 minutes and is different for each person, combining to create 1.5 - 2 hour sleep cycles. Often when we wake up feeling groggy, this is because our alarm has woken us during our deep or REM phase of sleep, when the melatonin (sleep hormone) in our brain is at its highest. Compare this with those mornings when you wake up feeling 'ready to go', when likely you woke at the start of your light sleep. For me, I sleep either 7.5 or 9 hours each night, which has me waking up at the start of my light sleep phase when my sleep is at its lightest. Try this out and see how you go. I wake feeling like I've slept like a baby (only I didn't wake up crying, pee the bed, fall out of bed or wake up the household). A good sleep should have you feeling well rested, sombre, energised to start the day and -at least for those first few moments when you wake up- peaceful.
How to setup your evening for a good sleep
- Enjoy a relaxing tea such as chamomile or a night time blend of organic herbal tea.
- Replace bright lights with softer hues such as a salt lamp.
- Drop lavender essential oil on your pillow or rub on chest for inhalation
- Restrict use of phones 30 minutes prior to bedtime
- Have a session in an iHealth Sauna and use the red colour therapy light.
- Before bed, suck on 1/2 teaspoon of raw honey with a pinch of good quality salt - honey provides a slow release of glucose to keep your blood sugar stable.
- Make sure the room is dark - the darker it is the more melatonin our brain creates = deeper sleep.
- Make you bedroom a peaceful place. When you think of your bed room, you should feel relaxation, not anxiety.
- Set your alarm to match your sleep cycle. ie 6, 7.5 or 9 hours. (6 isn't really enough though and everyone is different)
I believe that having a morning routine is key to optimal health. However, the key to getting out of bed to complete a good daily morning routine is a good night's sleep. Don't underestimate the importance of sleep. You spend a third of your life doing it, so you might as well make it worth your while.