Calming your nervous system is essential for a good night’s sleep

Cute little boy sleeping in bed at home

What no-one tells you about getting a good night's sleep

No-one tells you that your choice of food (especially processed food products) can impact how easily you drift off to sleep each night and how deep you sleep. When the baby boomers grew up and had families, both parents went back into the work force to maintain the household and life got busy. It was also the time when pre-prepared and processed food boomed. Packet food became a thing. Having to keep food on a shelf for months or years was suddenly necessary so food scientists started experimenting to find how to make food tastier and last longer. This resulted in a lot of manufactured imitation flavours, additives and preservatives. They had amazing results with the food (it tasted better and lasted longer and was cheaper) so it made these food companies so much money and made parents’ lives so much easier in the evenings. Think packet pasta, bottled sauces that could live in the cupboard (almost forever) and instant gravy as just a few examples. We didn’t know any better that some of these ingredients have a variety of impacts including behaviour issues, respiratory complaints and impacts on the nervous and endocrine systems. It is only now that we are seeing the results (such as increases in behaviour issues in children, increases in allergies, disrupted hormonal issues) and scientists are looking for the causes of these issues and are finding these causes in the food we eat and the chemicals we are putting in and onto our bodies.

No-one tells you that your reliance on devices is having a big impact on your sleep each night. We’ve only had personal devices in the last 20 years or so and a lot has changed in that time. Sleep is getting harder for so many people and attention spans have decreased while our needs for immediate gratification have skyrocketed. Blue light isn’t so much of a problem during the day - did you know that the sun gives us much more blue light than our phones ever could? In fact, not enough blue light from the sun during growth and development in children causes an increase in near-sightedness and other eye issues. Blue light is useful during the day as it suppresses melatonin which makes us feel drowsy so instead it causes us to feel awake - sound familiar feeling energised ni the sun? But in the evening when we’re preparing for bed we don’t want to expose ourselves to heaps of blue light that will suppress our ability to produce melatonin and prevent us from falling asleep at night. So all blue light is not created equal and doesn't always have the same effects.

Loving family sleeping together lying in the bed

What isn't helping you get a good night's sleep

So the first mistake I want to stop you making is trying to stay up later to make yourself more tired when you go to bed. Have you ever done this? I’m sure we all have. If you’ve typically had trouble going to sleep it can feel logical to stay up later so that you’re more tired when you finally do go to bed. However that balance between tired and overtired is so narrow and if we’re watching one show after another on the TV then we’re going to miss that small opening to go to bed. Does any of this sound familiar in regards to our children? We’ve all missed that small opening for tiredness with a tired toddler and regretted it for the rest of the afternoon right? Well, it’s the same with anyone. And you remember what I said about blue light last week and how it effects your sleep? So the last thing you’re doing before bed shouldn’t be looking at a screen - phone, computer or TV. What is the last thing you’re usually doing before heading to bed? 


The second mistake is ignoring sleep issues such as insomnia and snoring. If snoring is an issue, then typically there is an underlying issue that needs addressing. Snoring (beside being annoying and often stopping someone else from sleeping themselves) can have other impacts such as tooth decay and decreased energy and brain function the next day. So it’s never worth ignoring. Insomnia is the same - when it’s a real problem it may not be able to be solved by strategies such as turning the TV off earlier or changing your food intake.

mum sleeping 2

The secret to a good night's sleep

The first thing to do is to learn how to calm your nervous system. Whether it is your mind thinking about a million things at once or your heart racing, you need to learn to calm them down. This can happen in many ways such as reading a book, meditation, yoga, going for a run, or literally anything else that relaxes you. Please read between the lines here and realise that it’s not going to be watching a series on TV, scrolling through instagram or watching a movie on netflix. As your breathing changes during these calming activities your heart rate decreases and your brain starts to relax. All the ingredients needed to drift off to sleep. So whether you’re into journaling, jogging or jenga, the secret to getting a good night’s sleep is to first calm your nervous system down. What could you add to your evening routine to achieve this? 

Woman Sleeping with Eye Mask

How can I help you get a good night's sleep

The pace at which you make any changes must suit your family. Some families have babies or small children that are still waking through the night and therefore it feels like you have no control over your sleep at all. So if that’s you, I want you to focus on what you do have control over - the time you go to bed, what you do while they are sleeping and the attitude you wake up with each day. Sometimes that last part is the hardest when you’re not getting the sleep you really want. It’s hard to be grateful when you’re tired. So don’t try and fix or change everything at once. Pick the easiest win and start with that. Ater an initial consultation with me I can help you identify what that first strategy should be. 

The first step for you is simply deciding that you’re ready for a change and if you are at those crossroads and you’re ready to choose sleep. The rest of the process is much easier and I can help you through it. During a personal consultation I prefer to meet everyone in the household (either in person or via zoom) and together we will identify the causes of sleeplessness and decide which one you’re most comfortable to tackle first. I will be there to help you through the journey or just to show you the pathway at the beginning - it’s completely up to you. 

When you are ready for the rest of your life to be easier and more enjoyable, the logical first step is a personal consultation (either in person or via zoom) where I can get to you the unique needs of your household and develop personalised strategies to transform your happiness for the better.