JanOne with a Difference: The importance of sleep over the Festive Season

JanOne with a Difference: The importance of sleep over the Festive Season

Our awesome naturopath Jules returns for a sharp, clear and powerful message on one of the most common problems at this time of year – bad sleep.

The list of people I have talked to over the last few weeks who have told me they have been having trouble sleeping in the lead up to Christmas is as high as the Auckland City Christmas tree!

Sleep is one of the most common things affected in times of increased demands and elevated stress. Around this time of the year, with work finishing up, Christmas parties to prepare for, food to make, family to coordinate, gifts to buy and cleaning to do, your own personal health can be somewhat neglected. Affected sleep is one of the first signs to show that you need to look after yourself, so please read carefully if you’ve been lying there awake over the last little while.

JSB Tips for a good night’s sleep

1. Assess possible causative factors

  • Are you working too hard?
  • Are you having excess caffeine?
  • Is something on your mind?
  • Do you know where the problem lies and can you change it?
  • Are you eating the right foods?
  • Are you drinking too much?
  • Are you feeling stimulated after 7pm?

2. Ensure you are getting the right nutrition

  • Magnesium, vitamin C and B vitamins – the sleep nutrient triangle  
    • Found in sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, almonds, brewer's yeast, brown rice, citrus fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, parsley, blackcurrants
  • Natural melatonin
    • Found in natural tart cherry juice, oats, cherries
  • Protein for tryptophan production
    • Found in beans, wholegrains, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, hazel nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, miso, fermented soybeans and eggs
    • To produce tryptophan, a combination of both protein and complex carbohydrates are required
  • Zinc
    • Found in oysters, ginger, brewer’s yeast and pecans
  • Quercetin/Rutin (flavonoids) 
    • Green tea (before 2pm), apples, dark green leafy vegetables

3. Focus on routine

  • Aim to disconnect from the internet, computer/TV screens, phone after 5-6pm.
  • Find space in the evenings for a little “me time” where you nurture the inner, peaceful you: reading a good book, warm baths, snuggling on the sofa with your loved ones, reading to the kids… This will all help to lower your everyday stress levels and reset your sleep-wake clock.
    • Try to eat before 7pm. If you are going to a function or somewhere you know you’ll be eating late, try to have something before you go and then just eat lightly later on.
    • Exercise in the morning time – “action in the morning and relaxation at night”.
    • Incorporate relaxation activities like yoga, meditation or breathing exercises. I have included our wonderful JSB Belly Breathing exercise for you below. It only takes 2-3 minutes out of your day and is extremely beneficial for helping to calm the nervous system to promote a good night’s sleep.
    • Try to avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, hot and pungent food, excess chocolate and excessively sweet or large meals (especially after 2pm). This doesn’t sound very easy over the festive period, but just picture yourself lying there awake at night and that should help!
    • Try to get to bed at the same time every night. Regular bedtime routine (9:30-10pm) is so important for the circadian rhythm. 
    • Have a relaxing/calming herbal tea before bed. Chamomile, lavender, passion flower, valerian, apple and cinnamon, lemon balm and hops are wonderfully calming herbs and can help to relax your mind and promote sleep.

JSB Belly Breathing Exercise

Spend 2-3 minutes each day (as often as you think of it!) practicing this very simple, yet highly beneficial breathing exercise.

  • Sit in a comfortable position, somewhere you know you won’t be disturbed and you feel at peace.
  • Place one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
  • Take a slow gentle breath in through your nose to a count of 2, and let your belly push your hand out.  Your chest should not move. You should feel space between your shoulders and ears (no hunching allowed!)
  • Pause for 2.
  • Breathe out gently through your nose to a count of 3.  You can do this through pursed lips as if you were whistling if your nose is blocked or runny. Aim to always breathe in and out of your nose.
  • Feel the hand on your belly go in slightly as you breathe out.
  • Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time focusing on nothing but the flow of your breath.

Sleep tight,

X Jules (JSB naturopath)

Posted: Wednesday 18 December 2013