Did you know that a giraffe needs less than two hours of sleep per day? For most of us, that sounds like a dream- just think of how much more you could get done! For the giraffe, however, this is a safety precaution so they can stay on high alert for predators and they only manage to get about 5 minutes of shut-eye at a time. That sounds a little less ideal. Since we, as humans, have a slightly less precarious survival standing in the wild, we’re going to need more than two hours/ night to get by.

While sleep requirements vary from person to person, healthy adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Sleep plays a vital role in your overall wellness affecting literally every physical and mental function you have … but what if you just can’t get enough sleep?

Adequate sleep is a big pain point for a lot of us. With so much to balance, it’s a common feeling that there simply aren’t enough hours in a day. Sometimes we force ourselves to stay up to finish work or daily tasks, sometimes stress manifests in sleep disorders, sometimes medical issues or your environment can make it difficult to get enough sleep. Whatever the reason, your health is so dependent on a proper sleep cycle that it is imperative you invest the time, care, and attention it may take to make it right. And we’re here to help! :)

A giraffe may only need two hours of sleep but you are not a giraffe.

Find better sleep through…

Functional Training

At its most basic, exercise and training expends energy so, naturally, your body will be more tired at the end of the day having used up some of its energy stores. Digging a little deeper, studies have shown that increasing your heart rate actually improves sleep quality and helps to battle insomnia. Research suggests that insomnia may not be overcome overnight (pun intended) but that exercise does help to kick the issue over time when it is a consistent practice. 

Physical activity also increases the time spent in REM sleep. As you may already know, we go through different cycles when we sleep. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement and is the kind of deep, deep sleep where we typically encounter dreams- whether we remember them or not. Getting in solid REM sleep is important as it stimulates the parts of your brain that are used for learning and memory retention. Increased REM sleep has also been linked to better emotional IQ, a boosted immune system, and better management of stress.

Holistic Nutrition

It may sound strange but sleep can be improved through diet. Diets low in fibre and high in saturated fats or sugars certainly takes a toll on the amount of deep sleep that you get. In fact, the more sugar you eat throughout the day, the more likely you are to be pulled out of a deep sleep or wake up during the night. Sugar, fried foods, and alcohol before bed can also result in heartburn which, obviously, makes it difficult to fall asleep, of course in addition to the disruption in digestion.

Studies are increasingly pointing to B vitamins as an aid for sleep cycles as they help regulate the amino acid, tryptophan, which in turn produces the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Try upping your intake of dark, leafy greens, fish, seeds, and legumes or other foods high in B vitamins and see the difference that will make! Still not getting enough in, the best Vitamin B on the market is the product we carry by AOR: Advanced Complex B sold in our Life Shop.

Finally, there is the caffeine conundrum. It’s a tough cycle to break. When we don’t get a lot of sleep we become dependant on caffeine. Caffeine, of course, makes it even harder to fall asleep so we don’t get a lot of sleep and need a lot of caffeine and on and on it goes. And hey- there’s no judgement here! We love coffee as much as the next person. A better idea? Make your morning cuppa is a bulletproof coffee. This will help to boost your cognitive function and your immune system … plus, it tastes really good. :)

Nature

Spending time in nature actually helps your body regulate it’s sleep patterns. It makes sense when you think about it. When the sun goes down, our brains should release the right amount of melatonin to help us get to sleep. When the sun comes up, it’s time to wake up. But what happens in places with longer winters or shorter periods of natural light?

We’ve discussed using light therapy before for boosting mood but it also helps to improve your quality of sleep! Lightboxes mimic outdoor lighting to again, help your body regulate its sleep cycles using the aforementioned criteria (sundown/ less light = more melatonin). Sunrise alarm clocks also benefit sleep patterns as they gradually emit light in the morning to copy a sunrise and prepares the body for full wakefulness. 

Self-Care 

If stress and anxiety are keeping you up at night, its important to remember that taking care of your Self is a crucial part in overcoming that. Not what you want to hear? You want the quick fix vitamin for this one right? Nope, not this time - YOU DESERVE SELF CARE. We will yell this at you until you are beyond blue in the face (with love of course!).

One of our favourite ways to reduce stress and move the body is through yoga - don’t like yoga? Have you tried “Stretching”? :) Call it what you want but gentle movement really does work no matter what you call it. The calming breathing and stretches or poses are great for relaxing the body and steadying the mind. Meditating, similarly, helps to quiet the mind and soothe the body helping you fall asleep faster without distractions or other thoughts creeping in.

Something often talked about is limiting screen-time before bed. TVs, cell phones, and computers all emit a blue light that can keep you from getting a good night’s rest as this particular light messes with our internal clock, resulting in morning grogginess. Instead, why not pick up a book? Reading is great for reducing stress levels, improving creativity, and boosting memory. Getting into a relaxed position to read and enjoy your book also helps prepare your body and mind for sleep mode so you can actually fall asleep faster.

Feel like you’re doing it all but things just aren’t working? There may be something deeper going on - we recommend getting your hormones tested by a Naturopathic Doctor, or even hiring a Sleep Therapist (yes, they exist). Another thing we often find is that everyone knows what we are saying above, but the truth is is that it’s not actually happening.. Want to see for sure? Track your movement, screen end-time, reading, food and nutrition for 10 days and see what’s really up. We tend to think were doing everything but really there is room for improvement.

Ready to tackle all of your lifestyle habits and level up in all areas - body, mind and soul? Maybe it’s time for one of our classes. Book yoga, recovery or meditation here.

Ready for something a bit more in-depth - schedule a consult with one of our trainers here.

Ready for an immersive, intensive experience that will accelerate, heal and challenge you? Learn about and book our next retreat here.