The First Step to Enhancing Sleep

It sounds so basic, yet so many of us are engaged in highly stimulatory activities just before we jump into bed - working on our laptops; watching TV, out for dinner and drinks. Then we jump into bed and expect our brains to just switch off, as if you were flicking a switch? It doesn’t work like that.

In order to progress to quality, deep restorative sleep, as well as stay there (no waking up at 3am) we need to prepare ourselves - that means, Unwind Your Mind.

Biologically, this is moving from brainwaves of alpha and beta; experienced when we are alert, onto a slower brain wave patterns characterised by theta; witnessed during meditation and overall drowsiness.

By doing so, we allow ourselves to easily progress into the quality sleep - because just after theta, comes delta (waves), and if our brains exhibits this during the night, we wake with that ‘best sleep of my life’ feeling.

So; how do we ensure it? Have a routine which physiologically and physiologically relaxes the body, and do it - each night. Each of these steps is a gentle signal to the body that you’re ready for sleep, which doesn’t just help you initially; it also helps you sleep through the night, and not wake up several times with 10,000 thoughts in your mind.

Your Evening Relaxation Routine:


Note - all of the steps are better than none, and similarly, ANY of these steps are better than none. Do what is possible.

  1. Set a bedtime alarm for 60 minutes before you want to be asleep, labelling it with your key motivation for improving sleep - e.g. ‘greater productivity’ or ‘improve stress’

  2. Switch off shower - have a lukewarm shower, and switch off from work and social media

  3. Take a Sleep Supplement such as magnesium or melatonin, and drink a Chamomile tea

  4. Engage in a relaxing activity for 30 minutes - meditation, chatting with your partner, listen to a podcast, read a book

  5. For the final 10 minutes prior to bed, put on a meditation using the Headspace app (there is a free trial) and put an eye mask over your eyes

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Why Should You Improve Sleep?

Considering doing something about your sleeping habits but not sure if it’s really necessary?
This article is for you.

  • Is it reasonable to assume in the future; there will be times you are stressed, busier than normal and / or jet lagged and ideally; you won’t experience symptoms of low quality sleep, such as anxiety, forgetfulness, and burnout?

  • Do you currently experience high levels of stress, and would like to be able to manage this more effectively?

  • Do you often feel flat and exhausted throughout the day and not know how to improve your energy levels without excessive caffeine or sugar; solutions which are not maintainable long term? 

  • Do you have a role which relies upon you performing at 100% each day, and significantly suffers if you are excessively tired or unable to concentrate?

  • Do you ever forget important details, misplace items, and then spend countless hours fixing your errors? 

  • Do you want to be able to more effortlessly maintain or lose weight particularly in your abdominal region, preserve muscle tone and training results, reduce cravings for sugary snacks? 

  • Would you like to avoid pointless arguments which come from snapping at your partner, friends or family?

  • Do you want to avoid the a 90% risk increase for obesity; 23% increase in motor vehicle accidents, 9.8 fold increase risk for depression, 17.35 fold increase risk for anxiety disorders, and 29% fewer mistakes at work?

If you answered yes to any of the above; then improving sleep is for you. 

Need help sleeping? Sign up for my FREE 21 Days of Sleep Tips Series, highlighting a sample of the physiological, psychological and nutritional changes you can make to improve your sleep tonight, and energy levels tomorrow. Or, email me at enquiries@oliviaarezzolo.com.au to find out more about my program, The Sleep Solution, and how it can transform your sleep, and restore you to your best self - inside and out.

Key Signals You Could be Sleep Deprived

Awareness is key, right? Here are some clinically proven symptoms your sleep is out of whack. Note that you don’t need all of these signs to verify your sleep is problematic - even just one is enough to qualify you. So then, what should you be looking out for?

Evening

  • rumination (your thoughts on an endless loop) 

  • taking longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep

  • not feeling the need or ability to fall asleep until midnight or later

  • waking up in the middle of the night more than once

  • Being unable to return to sleep once you are awake 

Morning

  • feeling completely exhausted or unrefreshed upon waking 

  • relying on caffeine to get you started 

  • wanting to stay in bed for longer than 30 minutes in the morning 

  • feeling irritable, moody and grumpy 

  • Inability to focus on morning tasks 

  • anti-sociability 

Daytime 

  • forgetting where you put things, parts of conversations, or doing complete activities 

  • zoning out regularly

  • rumination (your thoughts on an endless loop) 

  • Impaired concentration or attention span

  • relying on caffeine to stay pepped up

  • feeling unusually hungry and unable to satiate your appetite 

  • cravings for sugary snacks, breads, pastries, sweets and chocolates 

  • feeling flat, depressed or burnt out 

  • feeling wired, anxious or overwhelmed

  • exacerbating / overreacting to minor problems 

  • falling in to a heap once you get home from work / your day 

  • tightness in your chest, headaches, muscles aches and knots in your stomach 


General 

  • recurrent cold or flu symptoms, with poor improvement despite efforts to recover

  • gut impairments digestion problems, including constipation, bloating, gas and toxicity to previously accepted compounds such as gluten or dairy 

  • lack of weight loss or difficulty maintaining your weight despite healthy eating and exercise

  • lack of muscle tone

  • muscle atrophy 

  • Lacklustre hair, uneven skin or nails 

  • Feeling burnt out, even with sufficient rest periods 

  • infertility 

  • low libido 

  • chronic anxiety

  • an ongoing depressed mood - over 2 weeks

Need help sleeping? Sign up for my FREE 21 Days of Sleep Tips Series, highlighting a sample of the physiological, psychological and nutritional changes you can make to improve your sleep tonight, and energy levels tomorrow. Or, email me at enquiries@oliviaarezzolo.com.au to find out more about my program, The Sleep Solution, and how it can transform your sleep, and restore you to your best self - inside and out.

Scientific Facts of Sleep Deprivation: What it does to your Brain

I like to facts. You like facts. Here are some FACTS, as in, scientifically proven evidence, around sleep. The studies below class sleep deprivation as anything below 7 hours. SEVEN. 

Note - If you would like me to share the scientific studies with you, please email me. I'll happily show you - it proves the research is based upon humans who are extremely similar to you - working too much, sleeping not enough and evidently, suffering immensely.

-       A 2017 meta-analysis published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioural reviews reported that scientific studies consistently demonstrated sleep produced reduced attention span, long term memory and executive functioning (decision making, logistical organization, time management and self awareness) (9)

-       Chronic sleep deprivation of 6h or less for 14+ nights results in performance of that of individuals suffering 48 hours’ total sleep deprivation (6)

-       performance time after 17 hours of sleep deprivation is similar to that of an individual with a BAC of 0.05 (3)

-       29% of adults’ report work errors are a result of sleep problems, costing time and money to remedy (5)

-       Simple reaction tasks take 10% longer, such as an individual decision, when deprived to either 4 or 6 hours of sleep.  Given the thousands of individual simple reactions we make daily; this can lead to extreme lack of productivity and exacerbate time on tasks significantly (6)

-       The brain detoxifies in deep sleep: as a result of cognitive processing, the neurotoxin beta-amyloid builds up during waking time. When we rest, the cerebral cortex expands in a manner that allows the removal of this toxin, thus allowing processing speed to be returned to normal. Without proper deep sleep, this neurotoxin builds up and causes memory loss and memory lapses (7)

-       Learning is solidified in deep sleep: memory traces (links between different concepts) are consolidated in deep sleep; thus allowing us to cement our understanding between novel concepts. Without deep sleep, we cannot solidify these memory connections. (8)

Need help sleeping? Sign up for my FREE 21 Days of Sleep Tips Series, highlighting a sample of the physiological, psychological and environmental changes you can make tonight to improve your energy levels, mood and concentration tomorrow. Or, email me at enquiries@oliviaarezzolo.com.au to find out more about my bespoke online program, The Sleep Solution, and how it can transform your sleep, and restore you to your best self - inside and out.

Scientific Facts of Sleep Deprivation: What it does to your Overall Health

I like to facts. You like facts. Here are some FACTS, as in, scientifically proven evidence, around sleep deprivation. The studies below class sleep deprivation as anything below 7 hours. SEVEN. 

Note - If you would like me to share the scientific studies with you, please email me. I'll happily show you - it proves the research is based upon humans who are extremely similar to you - working too much, sleeping not enough and evidently, suffering immensely.

-       A 2017 meta-analysis published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioural reviews reported that scientific studies consistently demonstrated sleep produced reduced attention span, long term memory and executive functioning (decision making, logistical organization, time management and self awareness) (9)

-       The brain detoxifies in deep sleep: as a result of cognitive processing, the neurotoxin beta-amyloid builds up during waking time. When we rest, the cerebral cortex expands in a manner that allows the removal of this toxin, thus allowing processing speed to be returned to normal. Without proper deep sleep, this neurotoxin builds up and causes memory loss and memory lapses (7)

-       A study of over 5,500 men and women found that those sleeping less than 6 hours per night were 66% more likely to have hypertension (18)

-       A Meta-analysis of 204,507 individuals found there was a bi-directional relationship between obesity and sleep problems (14)

-       An analysis of 13,322 individuals undergoing health behaviour change programs found that poor sleep predicts lack of other healthy behaviours being maintained, such as healthy alcohol use, physical activity; largely due to physical and mental fatigue (13)

Need help sleeping? Sign up for my FREE 21 Days of Sleep Tips Series, highlighting a sample of the physiological, psychological and environmental changes you can make tonight to improve your energy levels, mood and concentration tomorrow. Or, email me at enquiries@oliviaarezzolo.com.au to find out more about my bespoke online program, The Sleep Solution, and how it can transform your sleep, and restore you to your best self - inside and out.

The Sleep Solution Sleep Quality Index

Here is a helpful tool I've created for sleep deprived individuals like yourself so you can see tangible change aeach week in your sleep and related functionality.

Feel free to share this with anyone who needs to improve their sleep - statistics show tracking our goals correlates with a greater likelihood of us achieving them. Click the link so you have a downloadable, modifiable version which you can use each week.

Olivia x 

Downloadable Sleep Quality Index 

Need help sleeping? Sign up for my FREE 21 Days of Sleep Tips Series, highlighting a sample of the physiological, psychological and environmental changes you can make tonight to improve your energy levels, mood and concentration tomorrow. Or, email me at enquiries@oliviaarezzolo.com.au to find out more about my bespoke online program, The Sleep Solution, and how it can transform your sleep, and restore you to your best self - inside and out.

Stressed? This is for YOU.

Stress... the omnipresent feeling that leaves you exhausted, drained and moody. What to do if you're under ongoing stress? First, have a read of this article I wrote on adjusting your psychology towards particular stressors. In addition, these techniques will help you manage when you're under the pump. Tried and tested by yours truly, this is how I manage to stay cool calm and collected amidst a world of pressure and unrealistic expectations. 

DO

-       Release stress through various exercise – walking, yoga, high intensity training

-       If you do release your stress through intense workouts, ensure you have 1-2 days weekly of less intense activity, and are more regimented about the quality of your sleep to ensure your body is recovering from your sessions properly

-       Team up with a professional or partner who can hold you accountable

-       Find what method works for you. i.e. yoga, running, walking, a boxing class, swim

-       Give this activity time each day, depending on your day. 5, 10 and 20 minutes – whatever you can afford. As you move through the weeks, you will have more time for this because through improving your sleep you will be more productive overall

-       Schedule it in like you would any other commitments

-       Realise the interconnectedness between your physical and emotional stress systems – in releasing stress from one, it improves the health of the other too

-       Give yourself additional time and energy to engage in these stress relief exercises when stress is exacerbated, such as on weekends or on holiday. If so, ensure your activity choice is not excessively demanding, such as a walk in nature

-       Encourage your family, friends and partner to have their own time which helps them release stress. This will aid their emotional health as well as help them understand your needs for your own time in these activities

-       Have sex regularly – it’s the ultimate stress relieving activity!

-       Release mental stress with your nightly Mind Dump – any thoughts or ideas that cause you stress, write them down and assess their truth, imagining you were telling this to another person.

DO NOT

-       Think of it as an elective – given that you experience stress each day, you need to have stress relief each day

Need help sleeping? Sign up for my FREE 21 Days of Sleep Tips Series, highlighting a sample of the physiological, psychological and environmental changes you can make tonight to improve your energy levels, mood and concentration tomorrow. Or, email me at enquiries@oliviaarezzolo.com.au to find out more about my bespoke online program, The Sleep Solution, and how it can transform your sleep, and restore you to your best self - inside and out.