Sleep Awareness Week – September 29 to October 5
You eat well. You exercise. You’re careful about what you put onto your skin and hair. But if you’re not feeling as good as you know you should, the missing piece of your feel-good puzzle could be getting adequate and quality sleep.
According to The Medical Journal of Australia, insomnia is a common disorder that has significant long-term health consequences. Australian population surveys show 13 to 33 percent of adults have regular difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep.
Sleeping in the right environment and ensuring the body is getting nutrient dense nutrition is an ideal place to start for those who regularly toss and turn, suggests naturopath, nutritionist and Lifestream superfoods advocate Janella Purcell.
“Sleep disorders are estimated to cost millions in lost productivity, accidents and health costs and are mostly triggered by our own anxieties and worries,” Purcell says. “Getting enough sleep will give you more energy, boost your immune system and strengthen your mental health. There are many lifestyle factors that affect sleep and incorporating some additional nutrient support through wholefood supplementation can make a big difference.”
Purcell says a calcium or magnesium deficiency may be responsible for waking and not getting back to sleep, while magnesium can be highly beneficial for Restless Leg Syndrome.
JANELLA’S TOP 5 SLEEP TIPS
1. Supplement daily with natural magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in muscle relaxation as well as energy production. Signs of magnesium deficiency include difficulty sleeping in, waking up early, cold hands and feet, tightness in the neck and shoulders as well as eyelid twitches. Magnesium is the first step for many a practitioner in helping those with sleep disorders, to support the brain ‘turning off’ and allowing sleep. “Just 1/3 teaspoon of Lifestream Natural Magnesium half an hour before bed could be the difference between poor sleep and a restful and re-energising slumber,” Purcell says.
2. Wind down before bed. Melatonin makes you sleepy and it decreases with age. It is released from the pineal gland at sundown, if we indeed see the sun go down. Having your computer, TV or lights on when day changes into night will prevent this release. Give yourself time to wind down before bed, watch the sunset if you can and write a to do list for the following day—it’s a great way to empty the mind.
3. Lessen caffeine and alcohol. If you need a coffee to get started in the morning and feel you need a glass of wine to relax at night, there’s a chance you’re not getting enough quality sleep. Stimulants and depressants interrupt they body’s natural cycles.
4. Sleep in the dark. Even a small amount of light can suppress the body’s melatonin production. This will alter the natural sleep/wake cycle and affect other vital processes. Illuminated alarm clocks also count as light. Also, ensure you get plenty of natural sunlight during the day as this signals to the brain to produce sleep hormone melatonin.
5. Rest. Rest and sleep are two different things. Instead of watching TV, drinking alcohol or surfing the Internet, try meditating or deep breathing prior to bedtime.
JANELLA’S ALMOND AND CACAO NIGHTCAP
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Excerpted from Janella’s Super Natural Foods, to be released this November – (Allen & Unwin) $39.99
Having trouble sleeping? Make yourself a modern-day warm chocolate milk.
Nuts are a great source of tryptophan, which induces sleep, and cacao is one of the best sources of magnesium. Add in 1/3 teaspoon of Lifestream Natural Magnesium for a concentrated dose.
2 cups almond milk
1 heaped tsp cashew or macadamia nut butter
1 tsp syrup sweetener
1 tsp raw cacao powder
1. Pour your milk into a small saucepan and gently heat over low heat until just simmering.
2. Divide the nut butter, sweetener and cacao powder between two mugs, then pour the hot milk over the top. Stir well to combine and adjust the sweetness to how you like.