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Sleep- our secret weapon

Do you wake feeling rested? Or is sleep an issue for you? We all know that sleep and energy  go hand-in-hand, but did you know sleep is also beneficial for a healthy appetite, sex-hormones and are mood?. It truly is our secret health weapon!

We all deserve to wake up feeling rested and for that we need want quality sleep not just many hours of it.

When we fall asleep we move through different phases of sleep, or sleep cycles. It is easiest to split these cycles into two groups, deep sleep and REM sleep (rapid eye movement). REM sleep is where you dream, and are more likely to remember those dreams. The brains activity in this cycle is similar to when we are awake, and our eyes may even move from side to side, hence the name rapid eye movement! Deep sleep is where the magic happens, as this sleep cycle is restorative and associated with health benefits.

So, falling asleep is clearly only a part of the picture.

Things you can you make sure you have a deeper more restorative sleep:

-        Monitor your caffeine intake: Coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks all contain caffeine. While 1-2 cups of coffee or tea per day is harmless, did you know that caffeine has a half-life (how long a substance stays in your system) of 8 hours. This means any caffeine consumed after midday will be in your system when you are trying to fall asleep.

-        Practice sleep hygiene: Minimise light from electronic devices (yes that includes your phone) for at least 1 hour before sleep. The light from these devices prevents the rise of the sleep hormone melatonin which is essential for helping us to feel sleepy!

-        Movement: Being physically active and including movement in your day helps to reduce stress hormones that prevent us from falling asleep.

-        Managing worry or anxiety: If you are someone who finds it hard to get to sleep because of the “to-do list” circulating in your mind when your head hits the pillow you may find it helpful to journal before bed time. Writing down thoughts, worries and tasks can help reassure you that these won’t be forgotten and can be addressed tomorrow.

What are your top tips for healthy sleep habits? Surprisingly this is something that comes up in our work with clients a lot, sleep changes your eating habits and mood so of course it is going to affect your self care each day. So be kind to yourself this winter month and give yourself permission to rest more and get into bed early.

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