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Things I Did To Beat Insomnia And Get A Deeper Sleep

 

I have had to make my sleep a priority these last few years, but it wasn’t always this way.

My early twenties were spent partying and clubbing into all hours of the morning and not taking care of myself at all. I was also gym obsessed, working out 2-3 times a day to compete in fitness modelling competitions (nothing wrong with going to the gym at all, but for me it was a unhealthy exercise addiction). Sometimes I’d drink shots of coffee or pre-trainer of an early evening and head to the gym until 10pm some nights.
Then, I ended up in hospital with no more candle left to burn and complete burnout. I realised that I needed to make some serious changes within my lifestyle, and one area I needed to get sorted straight away was my sleep, to make it a priority, and fast. I could no longer operate on coffee, pre workout, recreational drugs, alcohol, and 4 hours of sleep a night.

While I was recovering from some chronic health stuff, I still found I was struggling with my sleep. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to sleep but I more or so couldn’t get to sleep! The problem was I still wasn’t sleeping fully through the entire night, resorting to anxiety and sleep medication. The medication seemed to work for only about 1-2 weeks. I realised I needed to look deeper into ‘the why’ and look at it from a holistic approach…I knew there was more work I could do in this area.

I found that there were many things that could impact sleep and cause someone to experience insomnia. Some of these were:

  • Lack of a consistent sleep schedule
  • Too many electronic devices and blue light before bed
  • Too much caffeine
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Eating too much before bed
  • A poor diet
  • Too much exercise before bed
  • Stress and mental health conditions (depression, anxiety, PTSD)
  • Chronic pain or illness
  • Certain pharmaceutical medications
  • Changes in sleeping environments
  • Jet lag
  • Getting too little physical exercise
  • Uncomfortable sleeping environments
  • Exposure to toxins in your home (such as mycotoxins/mould)

I made many changes after doing much research and speaking to others about their sleep routine and the power of a good nights rest. The changes I made have had a profound effect on my life and energy levels, and I have began embracing my zzzz’s.

Here’s how I hacked my sleep to get a deeper sleep:

Magnesium

Magnesium was a game changer for me when my insomnia was at it’s worst, and my adrenals and nervous system were fried. Magnesium can aid in the process of activating our parasympathetic nervous system which is the system responsible for that relaxed, restful and calm state. Magnesium can also help to regulate melatonin, which is a hormone in our body that guides natural sleep cycles in our body.

I began supplementing with magnesium, using a magnesium oil spray, and upping my intake of high magnesium foods. Some of these foods included legumes, seeds, nuts, bananas and spinach.

Herbal tea

I drink many herbal teas throughout the day to support my body holistically, and I love how each herbal tea has a benefit for our health and body - from Nettle leaf to Licorice root to Lemon balm - but, my favourite herbal teas are the ones of an evening to help me relax and sleep. You can choose one of these herbal teas below to sip on of an evening, or find most of these herbs in a herbal tea sleep blend. There is scientific evidence showing that certain herbal teas can be a great way to improve sleep, and reduce insomnia. These are:

  • Lemon Balm
  • Passionflower
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Valerian Root 

Find our range of sleep aid tea here.


Blue light blocking glasses

Did you know that the average person can spend more than 10 hours a day in front of a screen?
And, most screens emit a harmful type of blue light that can mess with your sleep, strain your eyes and disrupt your hormones. This blue-light exposure in the evening (for example, binge watching a Netflix series on your laptop right before bed) can make it harder to fall asleep and may affect the quality of your sleep.
Recent studies have suggested that blue light-blocking glasses may help people with sleep issues and insomnia.
There is still some conflicting and controversial information out there, but based on personal experience I do feel that a pair of these has improved my sleep.
Just make sure that the ones you buy are of high quality, and not a cheap $5 pair from the store. 

Essential oils

Essential oils can help to improve sleep. Sometimes a few drops in an air diffuser, in a night-time bath, on a pillow, or simply massaging directly on the skin  with a carrier oil can land someone suffering from insomnia comfortably in dreamland. 

Some of my favourite essential oils to use are lavender, vetiver, chamomile, and bergamot. You can read my other blog 'Your Ultimate Guide to Essential Oils' here.

 

Sleep aids and herbal remedies

Studies have shown that certain herbal sleep remedies and sleep aids can work in improving a person’s quality of sleep. This is because some herbs can reduce anxiety levels and also contain high levels of tryptophan, which is the amino acid in improving the synthesis of serotonin, the happy hormone. There are also other brain chemistry such as GABA (such as gamma-aminobutryric acid) which regulates brain activity and a lack of this brain chemical may be involved in sleep problems.

Some herbal remedies and sleep aids that you could incorporate into your evening routine to help unwind, relax and de-stress are:

  • 
Valerian
  • Holy Basil
  • Ashwagandha
  • Passionflower
  • Hops
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lavender
  • L-Theanine
  • GABA
  • Magnolia Bark
  • Melatonin


Please note, that while the above are all completely natural and have worked for me, they can also have side effects such as excessive sleepiness during the day (if not taking the right amount or dose), an allergic reaction, or medication interactions. Always speak to your health professional if you have any of the above concerns. The information in this blog is purely for educational purposes, and not medical advice.

Himalayan salt lamp

Of an evening, I like to dim the lights and use my salt lamp to create a calming and restful environment to prepare for bedtime.The soft light that salt lamps emanate are soothing and always help with falling asleep.

They are also a perfect addition to a child’s bedroom as a night light, creating a peaceful and soothing bedroom environment that may help a child in falling asleep.

You can read more about the benefits of Himalayan salt lamps here in my other blog post.


Sleep eye mask

Sleep masks take ‘beauty sleep’ to a whole other level!
Using a sleep mask is extremely calming bedtime routine for me. Wearing a sleep mask can also signal your brain it’s time to shut off and sleep for the night.

We have many sleep mask and eye mask options to purchase in our online store, but my favourite is the Summer Salt Body Dream Eye Mask.


Limiting electronics and blue light before bed

I prefer to stay away from lights that emit too much blue light at least 1-2 hours before bed, as I know how much it can affect our health and sleep. I also had to create a rule for myself, that this also included no electronics in the bedroom (no phones, laptops, TV's or iPads). Too much blue light at night from computers, electronic notebooks, smartphones and other digital devices stimulates cortisol in the body which can keep you awake at night, which is not what we want.

 

Guided sleep meditations

I love guided sleep meditations, as they allow me to settle in for a peaceful, regenerating deep sleep. Meditation is known to help lower heart rate and puts the body into a more parasympathetic state by encouraging slower breathing and increasing the possibility of deeper, and better quality sleep.

According to headspace:
“Sleep meditations help create the inner conditions needed for a truly restful night. Because when we settle the mind, we rest the body — and that restfulness is what makes it easier to wind down and drift off.”

I find some of my favourite guided meditations on YouTube, or on phone apps such as headspace and Insight Timer.


Gentle bedtime yoga

Doing gentle, calm, and restorative yoga poses and stretching before I go to bed has greatly improved my sleep. The key is to calm the nervous system as much as possible while putting our bodies into a parasympathetic state to help wind down from the day and have a deep and restful sleep.

I sometimes create my own gentle yoga routine by doing what feels good for my body, or I’ll do a guided yoga routine on Gaia.com, Youtube or through an app on my phone. Sometimes it may be something as simple as putting my legs up against the wall while taking a few deep breaths to help relax my nervous system.

Waking up with the sun

I used to be one of those people that would sleep in until 10 or 11am, now I rise most mornings with the sun which is (depending on daylight savings) usually around 5 or 6am. At first it felt difficult to do, but it overtime came naturally and I saw an improvement in my sleep.


I first heard on a Rich Roll podcast a few years ago that waking up with the sun and getting morning sunlight could help us sleep better at night, and at first this seemed crazy to me, but there is loadsss of evidence and studies proving it’s true.
This is because humans are diurnal creatures, meaning our circadian rhythms are set by the patterns of the sun. Circadian rhythms influence directly our sleep cycles, hormone release, appetite, body temperature and many other important bodily functions. A great way to set circadian rhythm is to expose yourself to sunrises, a small amount of time in the daytime sun, and sunsets. 


Consistent sleep schedule

Being consistent about your sleep routine, and maintaining a regular bedtime and wake time is important. I go to bed and wake up at the same time most days, because my body personally loves routine. I do love the occasional Sunday sleep in (let's be honest, who doesn't!?).

AM/PM routines

 Creating personalised morning and evening routines is important, they can help to create discipline, help you stay focused, and help set you up for health and success. Creating routines helped me see a massive improvement in my sleep. Sometimes my morning routine may look a little like: waking up, watching the sunrise, doing meditation, doing some form of movement such as yoga, pilates or strength training, journaling, repeating affirmations, and not looking at my phone until I have accomplished all that I wanted to do that morning upon waking. And my evening routine may look a little like this: eating dinner, having a shower or bath, dimming the lights, doing a few minutes of gentle yoga, foam rolling, TRE (trauma release exercise) or some light stretching, sipping on a herbal tea, reading a book, writing down 10 things that I am grateful for, popping some essential oils in the diffuser, and doing a guided sleep meditation before settling in for the night. 

 

 

You can shop our sleep support range online here.

Do you have any sleep hacks that aren't listed here? Please feel free to share them in the comments below so we can create an amazing list of things to take our health and sleep to the next level.

Sweet dreams!

 

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