Sleep expert, Olivia Arezzolo shares tips on how to sleep better
It's 3am and you’ve woken up - again. Or maybe you’re reaching for your second double shot almond latte and it’s only 9am.
As She Does This’ Sleep Specialist, I’m honoured to help you with your sleep.
We recently asked It's All Her readers if they sleep soundly, and what they would ask a sleep specialist given the chance...
Here were some of the responses:
Why do I wake frequently in the evening? Particularly around 4am? - @craig4548
Why can't I switch my mind off in the evening! - @malindahayward
Why am I unable to return to sleep after waking during the night - @emmma_26
One of the biggest things you asked is WHY!
There are a HEAP of reasons, but the main one is stress. I don’t just mean psychological stress, I mean physiological and nutritional too. From our work pressures, to our demanding social life, to the cultural value of an exuberant non-stop lifestyle, right through to those gruelling F45 classes, sitting at a laptop for hours on end (guilty as charged), to the toxins in alcohol, the sugar in our margaritas and the gluten in our slice of pizza on a Saturday evening.
All of these factors do one thing to do the body: STRESS IT OUT!
Biochemically, they all cause the release of stress hormones like cortisol which heighten your mental activity, which come the evening, you’re either a) buzzing, unable to sleep; or b) able to get TO sleep initially, but because your brain is still working super fast in the evening, you’ll wake through the night, especially around 3 or 4am.
So what’s the solution? Given that I named by business The Sleep Solution because I like being solutions focused, that’s what I’ll give you.
It’s going to support you to make change over a period of time, rather than give you a bunch of information. There's a lot but it IS helpful to have that bunch of information, because it’s possible to start implementing the changes from today so you sleep better tonight (truly!)
Create a sleep sanctuary. First, get your laptop, TV’s, any electronics - outside of the bedroom, they’re stimulatory; install a blue blocking night light for evening use, grab an eye mask and earplugs. Why? Blue light, the light colour emitted from electronics and regular lighting inhibit the production of melatonin, the hormone to make you sleepy.
As published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (1), researchers found that it delays sleep by 90 minutes in 99% of their participants! Similarly, a massive study (2) involving 125,198 children, found those using devices in bed had a 217% higher likelihood of inadequate sleep quality, and a 272% greater chance of excessive daytime sleepiness. The number - 125,198 - is not a typo, ladies! Take note!
Have a relaxing bedtime routine - I recommend a ‘switch off shower’ - switching off from social and work, a sleep tea and sleep supplement (melatonin or magnesium are great), followed by a relaxing activity for 20-30 minutes (e.g. reading a book, chat with your partner, visualise your goals etc), then finally, 10 minutes of meditation + deep breathing with an eye mask on.
I know this sounds daunting for some, but if you can’t do it all, at the least do the meditation and deep breathing at the end of the night
As the nights go on, see if you can up your routine to 60 minutes total - essentially the more time you dedicate to winding down, the more your body actually does! Funny that! This will not only help you GET to sleep; but stay there too.