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Sleep! The number 1 health strategy to prevent illness and disease!!

Is sleep more powerful than diet and lifestyle? 

YES! The most powerful cleanser and antiaging agent! And its free!! Here are some key points of information to convince you to prioritise your sleep as the first step of the day not your last.  

What is so important about sleep? Isn’t there plenty of time to catch up on sleep later?

Unfortunately sleep debt never really gets repaid. So, prioritising your sleep is one of the most important steps to start your day. Let’s talk about why! 

During sleep, we store memories, make associations and solve problems. We clean out disease causing plaque through our glymphatic system (a lymphatic cleaning system for our brain), repair cells and create new neuronal pathways for improved understanding, memory and concentration. 

Health benefits of sleep are vastly fascinating and far reaching, from immune system rebalancing, fighting malignancy, preventing infection, reforming metabolic state, regulating appetite, maintaining a healthy microbiome, and lowering blood pressure plus lots lots more. 

There are 2 different types of sleep which we cycle through every night. REM (rapid eye movement) known as the dream state and NREM (non rapid eye movement) known as deep sleep. REM takes care of our creativity and problem solving and NREM is when the real healing and repair happens. A few health associations between the 2 types: 

  • REM promotes learning, memory, understanding of social circumstances and challenges. 
  • NREM is important for learning and memory, and bodily functioning and repair of cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, energy balance, and immune systems. 

Inadequate sleep just for 1 week can cause a disruption of blood sugar regulation, causing pre-diabetic looking clinical data. It also increases your risk of coronary arteries getting blocked, it also contributes to all major psychiatric conditions including depression and anxiety. Lack of sleep also contributes to making you feel hungrier, despite feeling full you still will want more. It also has been proven to significantly reduce your lifespan. 

As we age we get less and less deep sleep ( NREM ), at a time when you need repair and renewal the most, we are getting it the least. The less NREM the less cleaning and less repair which leads to more loss of function of the brain and therefore less ability for NREM. 

Why am I so tired all the time? 

When we fall asleep at night our brain mass removes the accumulation of a substance called adenosine, this adenosine creates a sleep pressure, this sleep pressure builds in the day to make us sleepy ready for bed at night. The problem occurs when you don’t get over 7 hours sleep at night this mass cleaning doesn’t take place and the left over is this sleep pressure remaining for the next day. There are other health reasons you could be tired, read on and contact me for a more individualised approach to your health issues.  

Will coffee fix my tiredness? 

Unfortunately no, the way coffee works is it blocks adenosine (the sleep pressure substance ), then when you crash after a coffee and the effects of the coffee wears off the continuous build of sleep pressure once again hits you and you feel sleepier than before. 

How about sleeping pills and alcohol? I seem to sleep well with these? 

Sleeping pills and alcohol will not improve your sleep. 

Alcohol stupefies us into sedation, not sleep. It may seem like you sleep well when you have had a few drinks, however it is only the sedation of the prefrontal cortex and then other areas of the brain. The electrical brainwaves that alcohol induces in sleep is very different to the normal sleep brainwaves. Not only is the initial sleep not real, the whole night is disturbed with lots of small sections of wakefulness therefore not restorative and definitely not health promoting. Alcohol also is one of the most powerful suppressors of REM sleep, which is dangerous long term and has some very serious health and psychiatric consequences.

Now to sleeping pills. These, like alcohol are sedation agents, not sleep promoting agents. They work very similarly to alcohol, and as you are aware now is not ideal for optimal sleep. The brainwaves in sleep when taking sleeping pills is very different compared to a sleep without taking them. As with alcohol they find they are deficient in the deeper brainwaves. Therefore, short term health consequences of forgetfulness, drowsiness, slowed reaction time, very poor memory and concentration and continued worsening insomnia. To very serious long term effects such as mental disorders, and various disease states and illnesses. 

Last but not least, stress and inflammation. 

Lets talk stress.. the evolutionary fight or flight response that now wreaks havoc with the whole body and all of its processes in the modern day fast paced lifestyle. 

Stress is a vicious cycle with huge sleep consequences and vice versa. The stress hormone cortisol impacts the ability of the body to rest, digest and repair. With increased stress and lack of optimal sleep we get stuck with our “on”switch permanently turned on. This maladaptation can become deadly.  An overactive sympathetic nervous system causes blood pressure increase, a further increase in cortisol, which then further increases blood pressure, it shuts off growth hormone, which means no repair of the body and blood vessels. This can eventually lead to cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders and even psychiatric issues.  

How can you optimise your sleep? 

  •  Reduce your exposure to unnatural light after sunset. Blue light from your devices including smart phones and TV reduces the release of melatonin (the sleep inducing hormone), preventing you getting to sleep quickly. If you need to use them after dark, you can get blue light blocking glasses and blue blocker filters like FLUX on your devices. 
  • Get to sleep before 10:30/11pm. 
  • Get as much early morning sun as you can, as it’s rising. This triggers the circadian rhythm and regulates light and dark stimulated hormones. Preparing your body for a much better restful sleep at night. Don’t use sunglasses in the morning.  
  • Don’t exercise 2-3 hours before bed.
  • Have a hot shower or bath before bed, this drops your body temperature. We sleep better at a lower body temperature and lower room ambient temperature. 
  • No coffee or stimulants after 10 am – the long half life (takes a long time to clear the liver) in coffee can stop you falling asleep later in the day. 
  • Have complete darkness in your room while sleeping, we have light receptors on our skin, just a small amount of light can disrupt the quality of our sleep. 
  • Go to bed at the same time every night. Sleep 7-9 hours every single night !!!!!

Having trouble sleeping? Or just want better sleep naturally to optimise your health? Contact me or book a consult! 

Perth based Functional Naturopath and Lecturer, Jodi Duval discusses health tips and tricks for you and your family. Giving you the latest information to get you to your optimal health and empower you with the knowledge and passion to do so. Jodi will also be featuring guests from a variety of different areas of the health and wellness industry. Stay tuned and have fun!

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