Insufficient sleep costs the Australian economy $17.88 billion per year.
According to recent research, the estimated non-financial cost of insufficient sleep is $27.33 billion (4.6% of the total Australian burden of disease).
Published by Oxford University in the journal SLEEP, the research found that inadequate sleep is a public health problem affecting more than one in three adults worldwide.
Recent surveys suggest this proportion is increasing; and between 33 and 45% of Australian adults now experience inadequate sleep.
Insufficient sleep is associated with:
Lapses in attention and the inability to stay focused
Compromised problem solving
Confusion, irritability and memory lapses
Increased systemic inflammation
Increased risk of cancer
Increased cravings for food (especially sugar)
Increased weight gain
Increased risk of diabetes
Slowed or faulty information processing and judgment
Diminished reaction times
Indifference and loss of empathy
Lowered sex hormone production
SO, WHAT IS INSUFFICIENT OR INADEQUATE SLEEP?
Anything less than 9-10 hours in children and teenagers and anything less than 8 hours in adults.
That’s right, we should spend 1/3 of our lives in bed for good reason. This is when regeneration, healing and memory formation take place. In fact, just 2 hours less sleep a night can decrease testosterone in men by 10 years. It can double the risk of cancer or cardiac arrythmia and you are 500% more likely to suffer depression or anxiety disorder.
HOW CAN WE GET A BETTER SLEEP?
Better sleep is multifactorial and comes as a result of good sleep planning or hygiene.
Here’s our top tips for the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had!!
Set the right temperature
If your bedroom is too warm it makes you sweaty, while super cold temperatures leave you shivering. Try and set your room temp to 16 – 20 degrees. A slightly chilly temperature assists in decreasing your body’s internal thermometer, initiating sleepiness and ensuring that you stay comfortable throughout the night.
Add in magnesium food or supplements
A magnesium deficiency (which is found in 75 – 90% of Australians) can lead to sleepless nights. While there are plenty of magnesium-rich foods you can eat naturally, adding a supplement can help jump-start your levels and improve your sleep. In fact, one study in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found that magnesium supplements improved insomnia and sleep efficiency. Just one serve of 300mg before bed will help you not only relax and drift off to sleep, but have you waking feeling rested and refreshed.
Get some early day sunshine
Starting your day with natural light exposure helps reset your biological clock, whilst also balancing your body’s melatonin and cortisol levels, and serves as a natural source of Vitamin D. In fact, research shows that Vitamin D deficiency may be linked to sleep disorders. Try going for an early morning walk or leaving the office during your lunch hour to get your daily dose of sunshine. Vitamin D from sunshine helps to support and regulate immunity, inflammation and hormones within the body, creating more balance and harmony.
Exercise in the morning
That rush of endorphins and adrenaline you feel after a solid workout is awesome… until it’s the reason you can’t sleep at night. Try shifting your workout schedule to the mornings. You’ll feel great having completed your exercise session bright and early, and it’ll be easier to unwind at night. Working out in the morning effectively decreases sleep complaints and treats symptoms of insomnia (as shown by research).
Maintain a regular sleep schedule
Keeping your circadian rhythm regular, even on weekends can be hard to do but highly beneficial. As your body becomes used to getting into bed and waking up at the same times, you’ll find it becomes easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally. Aim for an average of 8 hours of quality sleep a night. You shouldn’t need an alarm clock to wake if you get to bed 8 hours before you need to wake up.
Go to bed earlier
Midnight is called this because it is supposed to be the middle of the night! This is not the time you want to be hitting the sack. You should be aiming to be in bed by 9pm if you want to be up at 5am-6am. Remember, your going to try and get some morning sun and exercise so getting to bed earlier will allow you to rise earlier!
Limit caffeine after 2pm
Although many of us feel like we are building a tolerance to caffeine, the sleep disrupting effects can last for 6 – 8 hours. In fact, a review of two randomised control trials showed that eliminating caffeine for a whole day was able to improve sleep quality and lengthen sleep duration. Instead of turning to caffeine, try a superfood formula with mushrooms, greens and shilajit instead. The uplifting herbs will nourish your energy system without the stimulation of your central nervous system (CNS).
Reduce blue light
Limiting blue light, which is emitted from LED lighting and screens (tablets, laptops, smart phones etc) after dark is an essential way to improve the release of melatonin in the brain. Instead, the fake light being emitted by these lights and devices can enhance the production of cortisol which may prevent you from switching off. If you find yourself regretting the past, worrying about the future or just unable to switch your brain off from thinking before bed, you need to get some BLUE LIGHT BLOCKING GLASSES, change your LED lights to warm full spectrum lights and start to dim your lighting as the sun goes down.
This Ayurvedic herb has been used for centuries as a calming adaptogen. The Latin name of this herb (Withania somnifera) translates to “help sleep”. It is known as the KING of herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. Ashwagandha helps regulate cortisol which means it indirectly helps regulate the sleep wake cycle as cortisol is one of the main culprits in making it hard for people to switch off and wind down at night. Not only will you have difficulty getting to sleep, but you may find you don’t get the deep (Delta) sleep where restorative health takes place and you wake up refreshed.
Do not eat within 2 hours of bed
Carbs in the last meal of the night can be helpful. However, avoid eating sugary sweets, chocolate, simple carbs, juice or high-glycaemic fruit just before bed, as it can spike blood sugar, boost your energy and you can wake up in the middle of the night feeling hungry — literally fuelling insomnia. Instead, try a little bit of protein with vegetables or a small amount of complex carbohydrates, protein with some good fats and make sure your last meal is at least 2 hours before bed.
Turn off wifi and remove your phone from your bedroom
If you are struggling to get to sleep, or suffer from disturbed sleep during the night, your WiFi may be to blame. Studies have shown that exposure to EMF radiation from WiFi networks can significantly affect sleep patterns, and long-term exposure could lead to further problems associated with lack of sleep, including hypertension and depression. Having your phone next to your bed, even if not attached to wifi will be continuously searching for 4G which may be just as disruptive to your sleep, not to mention you are more likely to reach for your phone if it’s nearby.
Do not have a TV in the bedroom
This is problematic for several reason:
It maybe a smart TV and needs Wifi (see above).
It will be emitting blue light (see #8).
It trains your brain to seek entertainment (dopamine) in the bedroom where relaxation (serotonin / melatonin) should be released.
Make your room dark & quiet
Not all of us have the luxury of going to sleep when it’s dark. So be sure to install blackout curtains in your room or blinds that keep out residual light and potential noise. Due to inner city living becoming more popular, light and noise are becoming increasingly to blame for the poor quality of sleep for many individuals.
Although you may not be able to complete all these tips, try to achieve as many as possible as they have a cumulative effect.
If you still struggle to get a good night sleep and wake up feeling tired you may wish to have a siesta (short mid-afternoon sleep). Try to keep this shorter than 30 minutes or you may cycle into a deep (delta) sleep which will be difficult to wake out of and your productivity may fall.
You can see how important sleep is for the health of your body, your mind and our economy. Getting quality sleep can not be underestimated and this attitude of sleep when your dead needs to change.
Everyone strives to be successful and productive. This doesn’t come from hustling long into the night and working later than your competitors. In fact, some of the most successful individuals on the planet get to bed by 9pm but they are early to rise.
The early bird gets the worm ($$) after all!
Disclaimer: The above article is merely a guide and is in no way a recommendation or a treatment protocol for any health conditions or diseases. You should always consult with a qualified health care provider before changing your supplement, training or nutritional strategy. Supplementation should not be attempted by pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone on prescription medication or children under the age of 15 unless advised by your qualified health care provider.