BOOK NOW
BOOK NOW

Sleep Hygiene Tips for A Good Night’s Rest

The importance of sleep cannot be underestimated. We all know it is necessary, but few of us really stop and think about how sleep, or a lack thereof, actually impacts how we function. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about it, as I have recently changed mattresses to a new SleepX mattress. I can’t tell you how critical a quality mattress is! Both for the physical effects on the body (i.e. comfort and muscular ease), but also the mental and biochemical benefits of sleep we go into below. SleepX sent me their mattress to trial and I can safely say I absolutely love it. It has reminded me just how important sleep hygiene is and why healthy sleep patterns are such an integral part of a healthy lifestyle.

The body’s sleep cycle plays a crucial role in many important bodily processes including learning, memory and mood, temperature, energy levels, heart rate, appetite, digestion, detoxification and hormone regulation. Interestingly, research shows us that a sleep deficit is inflammatory. Elevated inflammatory markers can contribute to conditions such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and autoimmunity. With so much inflammation from pollution, toxins, poor dietary choices and stress, we simply do not need to be adding to the problem through sleep disturbances.

When it comes to weight-loss or maintenance, a lack of sleep has been shown to prompt heightened appetite and less feelings of satisfaction after eating. This is largely because poor sleep increases Ghrelin (the hormone that signals we are hungry) and decreases Leptin (the hormone which decreases our appetite). Although everyone agrees that diet and movement are integral to our health, sleep actually influences everything from how much we eat and what we crave to exercise performance, results and recovery. So it would seem, sleep sets us up to follow through on our good intentions!

Consistency around a healthy diet, regular sleep patterns and good sleep hygiene will improve the quantity and quality of your sleep.

Lifestyle Considerations:

  • Do not use computers or phones 1 hour prior to sleep;
  • Ensure you don’t exercise too close to bed. Sleep experts agree that leaving a minimum of three hours between your workout and bed-time, to allow the body time to cool off before sleep;
  • Take a hot bath/shower 2-3 hours before bed – similar to the above, the temperature drop signals to your body it’s time for sleep;
  • Take large diaphragmatic breaths to unwind, either in bed or just prior;
  • Ensure you choose a quality mattress. This cannot be overlooked! I have been sleeping on my SleepX* for one month now, and can honestly say that it is heavenly. It is a hybrid of the highest quality memory foam and high-resilience foam for longevity and support. I feel it moulds to my body, whilst still remaining firm. There are three comfort choices, soft medium and firm (I chose firm and absolutely love it). 
  • Stick to a consistent bedtime and waking up schedule to form solid sleep patterns.

Dietary Tips:

  • Reassess caffeine and alcohol intake and be honest with yourself about how “moderate” your intake is, and how close you consume these things to bedtime. It might seem like you fall asleep quicker when you drink alcohol but research has shown us that sleep quality is diminished with REM sleep (the most restorative kind) impairment;
  • Avoid processed, sugary and excessively salty food, which can interfere with sleep, digestion and mood;
  • Consume moderate amounts of healthy fats daily such as 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds, ⅓ cup raw nuts or seeds, ¼-½ avocado, to increase Leptin production;
  • Eat dinner at least 2-4 hours prior to sleep;
  • Eat magnesium and tryptophan rich foods for dinner e.g. pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, legumes, tofu, brown rice, quinoa, figs, walnuts;
  • Sip chamomile tea 2 hours prior to induce calm. Avoid liquids 1-2 hours before bed.

*SleepX is an online bedding retailer offering premium Australian made “bed-in -a-box” mattresses and accessories with the largest range of choice available. They even have customised alternate feels on each side of the mattress surface to cater to partners who have different bedding tastes! So if your partner likes soft and you like firm, both needs can be met in the one mattress. All products are non-allergenic, anti-bacterial, recyclable and certified by Good Environmental Choice Australia. Plus, they offer a 120-night free trial and a 10-year guarantee on their mattresses. 

6 Weeks To Sexy Program: What I learned, What I most Enjoyed

So by now you must be thinking, I thought she was doing 6 weeks to sexy, not 18 weeks?! It’s true, I have totally become hooked on this program, and have carried it through to the 3 month mark. Whilst my first two programs really saw me commit to the 5 days a week workouts, this last one I have been nursing an old back injury, and focusing on more pilates, walking, yoga and Physio exercises. However, as I will explain below, each 6 weeks taught me something different about myself and my body, and I guess that is just realistic and reflective of life in general. We can’t be perfect, things come up – emotionally, work-wise and physically – and at the end of the day you have to do what is right for you at that point in time. I have seriously loved every single workout throughout this program, and can’t wait to share with you what I have learned, and what I have most enjoyed!

What I have learned:

  1. Appetite increase – I get much hungrier when I am working out intensely, and need to ensure I fuel my body properly. For this, smoothies have been a dream – and I never have more protein than a 3-4:1 carb:protein ratio. I’ll make myself a turmeric latte for afterward, and that would hold me over to a mid-morning snack which I now always need!
  2. Listen to my body – In terms of hunger, energy and injury it is so important to listen to your body. It will repay you, and it will also catch up to you if you don’t! Even when it didn’t feel right to train, I still took care of myself in some way- whether it was a rest day or I chose to move my body in a different way (walking, yoga, pilates, Physio exercises).
  3. It’s about frame of mind – set the goals you wish to achieve and focus on them every day. I can tell the difference in my attendance and performance the weeks I said to myself (and out loud) that I was going to smash every day of that week. You make less excuses and you make the time to see it through- whether it be setting your alarm, a reminder on your phone, telling a partner or friend of your intention, packing your bag etc. etc. being in the right frame of mind get’s you to training every  day and pushes you to do your best.
  4. Overall energy boost – my gosh I have so much energy lately!  I really have no energy crashes, and I attribute it to working out daily and eating accordingly. Exercise should invigorate you, if it doesn’t, it might be worthwhile to speak to a practitioner about your adrenal health.
  5. Increased water consumption – this might be a silly one but I have also never drank more water and I feel like the combo of this, plus sweating daily, has really helped my skin.
  6. It’s not about what you weigh, but rather how you feel. I made the decision to not weigh myself as I went along, as I didn’t want any old insecurities to creep back in. I also now know how it is your body composition that often changes most, and that might not see a shift on the scales. 6W2S is very intent on letting you know this, with weekly emails and info regarding muscle, body fat and overall weight. As we get measured in a variety of ways at the start of each program (InBody Scan showing body fat percentage and muscle mass etc., body measurements, and strength capabilities), having this 6 week weigh-in is all you need. I also love how it is not simply weight, but rather, there are so many ways to track progress!

What I have most enjoyed:

  1. Having a solid routine, and taking the thought piece out of the exercise equation! This might sound silly, but choosing what to do each day can be stressful, and ensuring you have carved out the time to do it can be challenging! With 6W2S- I just get up and go and have someone tell me what to do 🙂
  2. Blake has a few “tests” he runs throughout the programs whereby he times you going through the session – without a doubt, I constantly bettered myself every time I was re-tested, showing me how much stronger and fitter I was becoming.
  3. Being outdoors for the most part, especially our once-a-week at Bondi. Sunrises always make a workout that much more rewarding and set a beautiful calming, energising tone to the day.
  4. The crew – the girls and trainers are the best of the best, and really motivate, inspire and make it all the more enjoyable turning up each morning. Not to mention the support and community generated through external activities and events and the FB set up each and every program.
  5. Feeling like my body has moved sufficiently each and every day – for someone that is seriously desk-bound either blogging or seeing clients, it can be challenging to get the 10K steps in we should all be aiming for. Whilst I still make a conscious effort to take breaks and walk around, these morning sessions ensure that I have moved my body daily to counteract the hours of computer-time.
  6. The results! Whether it be a more positive mindset, cleaner eating patterns, weight-loss, increased muscle mass, commitment, or hitting new goals, each 6 weeks actually offered me something new. The first one I was most committed to and saw the most physical progress, the second was all about new goals in fitness and strength and this third has been about mindset and listening to my body (due to my injury). Overall within the 3 months I’ve seen a significant drop in body fat %, comparable for what I had to loose, and am really happy with my overall results.

3 Ayurvedic practices I am making a habit of

Dinacharya – “Dina” meaning day and “Charya” meaning activity – refers to the Ayurvedic daily routine that is encouraged to reduce stress, improve digestion and prevent chronic disease. Many of the practices are applicable to the morning time to set up the day with balance, cleanliness of mind and body and ease.

There are some elements that I, and perhaps you, might already be performing… Early rising, engaging in exercise and/or meditation, brushing teeth, showering, warm lemon water, eating a healthy breakfast… So without necessarily being aware of it, you might already be partaking in Dinacharya! However strictly and traditionally, it is quite a process! Whilst I respect it, I definitely don’t stick to the letter of it.

After some recent reading, I have decided to make more of an effort to incorporate three aspects of Dinacharya into my already established routine. I feel these are easy to implement and believe they will boost my day and improve overall wellbeing. Join me!

IMG_3038

Tongue Scraping

This simple practice removes bacteria and toxins accumulated overnight, whilst also stimulating and cleansing the digestive tract and vital organs (different points of the tongue are said to relate to specific organs). From my research, this should be the first step in your oral hygiene routine. So whether you brush, gargle or floss, scrape your tongue first – 7-10 brisk strokes should do the trick, and wash off excess where necessary between scrapes. Don’t be too vigorous, it should not hurt. Once done, brush your teeth and then enjoy your warm lemon water.

Oil Swishing

This practice is believed to strengthen the teeth, gums and jaw. It also shows some promise in gingivitis and plaque build-up prevention and overall oral health. You may have heard of oil pulling. I originally shied away from this practice, placing it in the “too hard” basket…. The idea of swishing oil in my mouth for upward of 15 minutes seemed ludicrous to me! Who has that time? However, my reading has revealed that traditionally, this practice need not be so indulgent, 1-3 minutes will do the trick. Yay! Once you have had your warm lemon, place about 1 tbsp of oil (preferably warmed, unrefined, organic and cold-pressed sesame or coconut oil) into your mouth, swish for a minute or two, spit out (do not swallow!), and before rinsing use your finger to massage your gums softly to increase circulation. Tip: to warm the oil I recommend using a small container filled with 1 tbsp of the oil, secured tightly and placed in warm water for a minute, perhaps whilst you drink your lemon water. Confession: I only do this 3-5 times a week, do it when you remember/have time, I think this is good enough!

Abhyanga

This is an ancient practice of oily self-massage, said to nourish the skin, promote good circulation, lubricate tissues, optimise detoxification and soothe the nervous system. Before you shower, perhaps after exercise, warm about 1/4 cup unrefined organic sesame, almond or coconut oil, by placing it in a hot bowl (you can add essential oils to the base oil as well). Then, massage your entire body, starting from the head. Pay particular attention to the soles of your feet, your ears, nail beds and the scalp. If you don’t want to wash your hair, choose to forgo the oil here and use dry hands to give yourself a scalp massage (great for stimulating the hair follicles and promoting growth!). See a good tutorial here. If you don’t have time for the full body massage, at least massage your hands, feet, and neck, as these are said to be major stress points and benefit most from stimulation. Wait at least 10 minutes before washing off oil. You could oil swish whilst you wait, tidy up or prepare breakfast or dinner (being careful with your oily feet!), meditate… Then, enjoy a warm shower, the heat of which will allow the oil to penetrate the skin, nourishing and strengthening the connective tissue. Bonus points to turn the tap to cold for 10 seconds at the end of your shower, then hot, then cold! Always finish on cold. This is great for circulation. Morning is believed to be ideal for Abhyanga, but it can also be done in the evening, choose when suits you best. Tip: try using a dry brush on your body before Abhyanga!

SIGN UP TO THE HEALTH & BLOOM NEWSLETTER