Do you remember the last time you had a crappy night’s sleep? HAHA, we’re kidding, of course you probably do. Whether it’s babies, work deadlines, Netflix (yes we’re ALL guilty! Anyone else watch the F1 Drive To Survive and binge 4 seasons in a week?) Full moons, Bali dogs, or snoring partners affecting your sleep, it’s likely the next day saw you feeling sub-optimal, groggy, reaching for the coffee or snapping at the Canggu shortcut traffic….
As common as it is to not get as many ZZZ’s as you would like to, ongoing lost hours night after night add up to what’s known as a sleep debt. As well as energy levels, this ongoing sleep debt can lead to some other serious health concerns like mental health, heart health and even affect your digestion and weaken your immune system. We all know now is not the time to be ignoring your immunity.
Sleep is also not one of those things you can “bio-hack” unfortunately, in the end the debt will catch up with you one way or another! Lot’s of studies show that just one night of “not enough” sleep can dramatically affect your mood and lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, tiredness, confusion, irritation, restlessness and even anger. Fortunately, these short-term effects of sleep deprivation can be quickly reversed by getting the extra rest. Thinking and mood can also rebound quickly.
So, how do you know you have a sleep debt?
Well, aside from the fact you will be feeling pretty average, the easiest way is to simply do the maths. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night. If you know you function well on8 hours, start there. If you only get 5 hours of sleep on Monday and 6 on Tuesday, you’ve already got a sleep debt of 5 hours that week.
Can you make up the time?
Opinions are mixed on this. Some experts say yes – but that it’s limited and has to be done gradually to avoid messing up your sleep rhythm. For example, to make up those 5 hours you’ll want to add an extra hour of sleep to your night each night for 5 nights in a row. Yup – it will take almost a week to earn back that sleep. The studies also say that having a big weekend of sleeping won’t make up for weeks of sleep debt. Unfortunately, if you’re losing sleep every night there’s really no way to ever get those hours back.
Instead of beating yourself up and putting even more pressure on your body to perform sleep-wise – give yourself a mental clean slate and instead follow these tips to try and improve your sleep health overall.
The following suggestions might seem obvious, are they things you are currently doing as part of your sleep health hygiene? Sometimes we just need the extra reminder to help our bodies as much as possible achieve a sound slumber!
Start by trying to go to bed at the same time every night. It helps to notice when you are most alert, most productive and tired throughout the day – this will give you a bit of insight as to where your body’s natural rhythm sits. Generally, being asleep between the hours of 10pm and 2am are said to be the most beneficial to our body clocks. There’s lot’s of different studies and research out there, but find out what works for you and do that – just try to be consistent as much as possible, our bodies love routine.
Let herbs be thy medicine 🙂 We love Ming Herbs range of specifically customised blends for particular ailments, it takes all the guesswork out for you. Try the Emotional Balance and Deep Sleep tea. Another favourite of ours is Chamomile! Chamomile tea flowers contain a powerful flavonoid compound called apigenin, which acts on the brain’s GABA receptors to promote a feeling of calmness. Higher doses of chamomile behave more like a sedative, helping to promote calm and better sleep. Find it here in our bulk tea section.
Yes there are the obvious ones like caffeine and other stimulants, but any kind of sugary food will give you a boost of energy if eaten too close to bedtime – fruits included! Eat dinner early if possible and avoid late night snacking – yes we know. If you have a big meal too close to bedtime, your body will be focused on digesting the meal instead of helping you get to sleep and stay asleep. The same goes for exercise – too close to bedtime will give your body a hit of endorphins, fantastic yes but not if you’re trying to wind down for bed time.
While it isn’t for everyone, meditation can be really good for helping you transition into sleep. Download an app like Calm or Headspace or jump onto youtube for free meditations to help you drift off. If you can play it through a speaker instead of your phone even better! Put the phone somewhere out of reach. A relaxing bath before bed can also help you unwind and get into that zen zone – our Calming Bath salts are designed with just that in mind, containing lavender, rose and epsom salts to fully relax your muscles from the inside out. Another fave on rotation right now is the new Calming Oil – Stay Zen from Sukime.
At the end of the day…. (pun intended ;))
No-one likes a grumpy-Gary! Just kidding, and sorry to the Gary’s out there. What we mean is when you start accruing sleep debt, you’ll start to notice problems with your focus, memory, and brain function and mood. If you’ve tried to focus on your sleep health but are still having problems getting the right number each night, it could be worth getting in touch with your local naturopath to do some investigating. Everyone is different and what works for someone might not work for someone else. The sooner you can figure out exactly what’s keeping you up at night, the sooner you can get that much-needed rest your body is craving.
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