SLEEP. That marvellous thing can make us bounce off the walls when we get enough of it, but turns us into short tempered zombies when we don't. I'm no doctor but boy have I had plenty of personal experience on this matter, having had problems sleeping most of my entire adult life.
When I was a kid I was straight out of bed full of energy before 5am every morning. But from my teens on until more recently insomnia has been the bane of my life. For years I would wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning and never be able to get back to sleep. I was eating poorly, was under a lot of stress, had anxiety, drank alcohol, took both legal and illegal substances that disrupted my hormones and interfered with sleep patterns. Yup - while I might be very much into health now it definitely wasn't the case back then!
Over the years I've trialled a ton of things to help me sleep. Some healthy, some far from it - for a period of time I took paracetamol every night to get to sleep thinking it was completely harmless (they sell them everywhere after all!) until I ended up getting excruciating headaches, went to the doctor and he told me taking too much paracetamol GIVES you headaches. What the!!!
After my first marriage ended badly I ended up on sleeping pills which were a lifesaver at the time or I may not have slept at all - but a dangerous thing to rely on, and definitely not good for your health or quality of sleep. And I couldn't count how many natural sleep aids I tried but none of the ones I tried worked for me.
A massive shift happened when I got pregnant more than 4 years ago and I wasn't allowed to take anything. Nothing at all! I was pretty gutted - having not slept properly in at least 15 years I didn't know how I was going to cope. But it was the best thing that ever happened to me, because I also started thinking about what I was putting into my body and how that affected my unborn child. No more chemicals, no more poisonous crap, nothing that would build up in my system or that I would come to rely on.
I researched it and changed everything around how I slept. These are the key things that have made a massive difference for me and will work for pretty much anyone. Have patience though - it can take a little while to adjust and you do need to do all of them at the same time because they all influence sleep in a big way.
- No technology in the bedroom - my phone is always turned off and left in the kitchen by 8:30pm. All my friends know they're not going to hear back from me till the next day if they contact me in the evening! I don't use my computer in the bedroom and we don't own a TV. Its also important to have your internet connection as far away from your bedroom as possible, even better if you can turn it off at night. There aren’t a lot of studies yet on how wifi radiation effects us but better safe than sorry
- My bedroom is my sanctuary. We move a lot, but wherever we are living I make sure I have a really comfortable bed, great sheets and pillows, and black out blinds. My bedroom is for sex, reading and sleeping, that's it. I also make sure there are no little flashing lights that could disturb me.
- I avoid alcohol most of the time, restricting it to no more than 1-2 drinks and only on the weekend. Alcohol is a massive sleep disrupter but some people don't realise this because it can make you go to sleep really quickly, but the quality of sleep you get is rubbish so you'll wake up feeling really groggy and irritable.
- I limit coffee to no more than one a day, and have regular breaks from drinking it (usually a week of every month). I definitely sleep better when I'm not drinking it at all but I love it too much to give up permanently!
5. I take Liposomal Magnesium every night. This is my holy grail product that I won't go without, it helps me sleep better than anything else I've tried. It relaxes my muscles and helps with the tension and anxiety I feel, key for those of us that are stressed and can't calm our brains enough to go to sleep easily! Magnesium is an essential mineral required by our bodies for a healthy heart, brain, nerves, muscles and bones function, and many people in New Zealand are deficient in it so it’s an important one to supplement. Every cell in the body relies on magnesium for things like energy production, protein synthesis, hormonal balance, detoxification and hundreds of enzyme reactions. It’s relaxing not just for the mind, but for the bowel too if you find it hard to ‘go’. The one I use is from BioBalance, you can buy it online from Healthpost.co.nz (and its on a really good special there at the moment!)
6. I try to go to bed and get up at the same time every single day even on the weekends. It’s proven that the most important hours of rest are before midnight so I try to go to bed around 9-10pm - definitely makes me feel a ton better! And I always get up before 6am (sometimes even before 5am) because I’m so much more productive and full of energy in the mornings, plus its equally important not to oversleep as that can make you tired too.
7. The other key player that doesn’t often get considered when it comes to sleep is a good Vitamin B complex. Stress has more impact on sleep than anything else these days, and Vitamin B Complex supports the stress response via adrenals and nervous system. Adrenal health is essential for healthy hormone and mood regulation, balanced immune activity and energy production. It is a key one to take to support you when you’re pregnant too, I wish I had discovered it back then! I take BioBalance Liposomal B Complex.
If you’re a sleep deprived zombie I hope these tips help - or if you’re a recovered sleep deprived zombie and there are other things that helped you become a normal person again, comment below and help the rest of the zombie population get their sanity back!
Always read the label and use as directed. Supplementary to a balanced diet. BioBalance Ltd, Collingwood.