Nothing feels better than waking refreshed after a solid night’s sleep, but how often does this actually happen to you? Sleep problems are prevalent in the global population, meaning many of us aren’t catching enough Z’s that our bodies deserve. Many a night we toss and turn, struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep, leaving us feeling groggy and tired when it’s time to wake up.
On average, teenagers need 8-10 hours, adults need 7-9 hours and older adults (aged 64 years +) need approximately 7-8 hours of sleep every night to support overall health and wellbeing. During these hours of all-important sleep, our bodies rebuild muscles that have been worn down during the day, and our minds process and respond to emotions and experiences from the day and store them in various areas of the brain as part of our memory. Sleeping plays an important role in regulating our circadian rhythm (aka our internal body clock) that impacts our body temperature, appetite and cravings. Sleeping also causes the release of cells called cytokines that have a protective effect on the immune system by helping to fight inflammation.
When we don’t sleep for the recommended amount of time for our age or we have a broken or interrupted sleep, it can impair our motivation, emotion and cognitive functioning. People who are sleep-deprived typically have a harder time receiving information due to the brain’s fatigued cells and lose the ability to access previous information. Long term sleep-deprivation can therefore impact thinking and learning processes, long-term memory and memory processing.
Have you noticed you crave sugary foods when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep? Perhaps you find yourself snacking on sweets and drinking an extra cup of coffee to get you through the day? As mentioned earlier, getting a good night’s sleep helps to regulate our circadian rhythm which, when out of balance, can cause changes in our appetite which affects our food choices throughout the day.
‘Sleep hygiene’ is a term that refers to strategies that help promote healthy sleep. These strategies can be easily implemented in your night-time routine to help you achieve a sleep you could only dream of!
Here are our top sleep hygiene tips:
- Swap your afternoon coffee for a mug of herbal tea. Studies show that drinking caffeinated drinks up to 6 hours before bed can affect sleep quality. If you love the taste of coffee as part of your afternoon snack, try dandelion root tea instead – you’d be surprised at how similar it tastes to coffee
- Dim the lights in your house after dinner. Light has a profound effect on sleep - exposure to light stimulates the body and mind. Dimming the lights helps your brain to recognise that sleep time is drawing close, working with your circadian rhythm to help you relax and prepare for sleep
- Avoid ‘screens’ at least one hour before bed – screens include TV, computer/laptop, phones and other electronic devices. The blue light they emit stimulates brain activity, which is the opposite of what your brain needs at night-time
- Enjoy a bath or shower before bed with calming essential oils such as lavender to promote relaxation and calmness
- Check what supplements you’re taking with dinner/before bed – anything with B vitamins, CoQ10 and/or energy-supportive herbs like Korean ginseng help to support energy levels which is not ideal before bedtime
If you’ve already tried all of these tips and still feel like you need extra support to help you sleep, consider our A Good Night’s Sleep supplement, a formula containing herbal medicines and magnesium to relieve sleeplessness and assist body relaxation. A Good Night’s Sleep contains California poppy, used traditionally in Western herbal medicine to help reduce sleeplessness and any pain or discomfort that might keep you awake during the night, as well as ziziphus, used in traditional Chinese medicine to decrease nervous energy if it’s your busy mind that’s keeping you awake at night. Magnesium is included in our formula to reduce muscle cramps and spasms and Passionflower is known for its traditional mild sedative effects in Western herbal medicine, helping to reduce sleeplessness and symptoms of mild anxiety.
Consult your doctor or healthcare professional if you have trouble sleeping and before trying new supplements, especially if you are taking other supplements and/or medications.
- Irish, L.A. et al. (2015), The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: A review of empirical evidence, Sleep Medicine Reviews, 22: 23-26
- Jones, T. (2017), How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Really Need? Healthline, cited on 21.11.19, accessed <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-sleep-you-need>
- Sampson, S. (2019), How Does Seven to Eight Hours of Sleep Affect Your Body? Healthline, cited on 21.11.19, accessed <https://www.healthline.com/health/science-sleep-why-you-need-7-8-hours-night>