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Sleep: How to improve sleep quality and quantity

Sleep: How to improve sleep quality and quantity

Sleep is the resting of the conscious mind, suspension of postural muscles and inactivation of the nervous system. Sleep is vital for the processing of information, storing of memories, cognition, cellular repair and immune functioning. Our body’s ability to regulate sleep can be affected by stimulants, diet, stress, and our environment. 1/3 of Australians are experiencing insomnia at any given time.

Our body clock’s (circadian rhythm) sleep wake cycle is governed by two hormones known as cortisol and melatonin.

• Cortisol is secretion slowly increasing in the morning, allowing us to wake naturally as the sun rises. The hormone cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands and is responsible for providing a sense of alertness and energy

• Melatonin is an antioxidant and sedative hormone which is secreted as the sun naturally sets in order to induce a relaxing and restful nights sleep

Top tips from the naturopaths at TCPA for optimising sleep 

 

  • Reduce the amount of stimulants you consume during the day e.g. caffeinated beverages, coffee, alcohol, highly refined sugary foods
  • Tryptophan (5HTP) is an amino acid found in: eggs, banana, salmon, cod, chicken, turkey, milk, potato, beans, legumes, unprocessed oats, brown rice and quinoa. Tryptophan acts as a mood regulator as it is a precursor for serotonin (the feel good hormone) and melatonin. Tryptophan rich foods support the nervous system to boost feelings of well being, safety and calmness while reducing feelings of anxiety, fatigue, restlessness and ruminating thoughts.
  • Melatonin is produced endogenously by the body but can be found in foods to enjoy such as green tea, grapes, cherries, oatmeal, tomato and barley
  • Magnesium and calcium are minerals that promote calmness of the mind, they are involved in muscle contraction, relaxation and nervous system conduction. They can be found in dark leafy greens, wholegrains, nuts and seeds
  • Aim to get 15 minutes of sun exposure in the morning or around lunch, this will help your body tell your brain this the time of the day to secrete cortisol and also get some vitamin D
  • Create clear boundaries that the bedroom is just for sleep e.g. no watching tv in bed

  • Limit exposure of screen time after getting home from work

  • Studies show melatonin secretion is optimum at 15-20 degrees. Support your body ability to thermoregulate by opting for non synthetic bedding, 100% cotton or linen depending on the season

  • Practice bathing, reading, journaling, breathing exercises, self massage or mediation prior to bed to calm the mind

  • Avoid strenuous exercise after 6pm. Instead opt for a stroll in the park or garden (moon bake) to help your brain become aware that its night time and start the secretion of melatonin

  • Essential oils can promote relaxation and sedate the nervous system (lavender, roman chamomile, vetiver, ylang ylang and sandalwood) 

  • If this isn’t working for you or would like to look at herbal or nutritional supplements please contact the naturopaths at either Mosman or Darlinghurst. We have many practicioner and retail products which help to support the circadian rhythm and improve the ZZZZ time. 

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