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Christmas wish list for the sleep deprived

Look forward to juicy rejuvenating sleep, and knowing that because of this, 2021 is set to be your best year yet. Our sleep expert Oliva Arezzelo on what you need to do to get there.

Sleep: it’s free. And we all want more of it, so why is it so hard to get? Specifically – that consistent, restorative, uninterrupted, eight-hours-a-night kinda sleep. Which is why we’ve enlisted Sydney-based sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo to solve our myriad of sleep concerns with our new editorial series Sleep Well Wednesdays. Check back each week and you’ll be off to the land of nod before you know it.

Christmas is just around the corner and if someone asked you what you really wanted, it would be ‘a long, deep, undisturbed sleep’. Remember that? Remember what it felt to wake up fresh and not need coffee to function? Remember what it felt like to sleep through every single night?

If you don’t remember, or just want more of it in 2021, this piece is for you. Today’s edition of Sleep Well Wednesdays will share key reasons you’re struggling to sleep, and a few lesser-known ways to overcome each.

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What you want to feel less stressed before bed

Stressed and sleepless? There’s a clinical link. Research shows stress hormone cortisol rises after one night of insufficient sleep by a staggering 37 percent. As a result, you’re left wired, anxious and are likely to sleep poorly the following night.

Break out of this cycle with a natural stress supplement like kava, such as Fijikava Noble Kava. Evidence shows it promotes the production of GABA, a calming hormone to counteract stress. With lower stress, you’ll sleep deeper and less likely to wake up at 3am too, joy!

What you want to feel more energised through the day

Daytime energy should be a consequence of sleep, but sometimes – it’s not. A simple solution for this one? Spend more time outdoors.

Studies show sunshine promotes the production of serotonin, an awakening hormone. Further to that, serotonin is also a happiness hormone, so you’re likely to feel more upbeat too.

One step better than spending time outdoors though? Add movement. Taking a walk in nature, a game of backyard cricket (a must for any Aussie over summer, let’s be honest) or going through a tranquil yoga flow will heighten blood flow and increase serotonin levels even further.

Want you want to get rid of brain fog

Sleep deprivation and brain fog are synonymous: evidence shows lack of sleep can impair mental clarity as much as having a blood-alcohol level of 0.05. Similarly, Sleep Health Foundation has found that 29 percent of all workplace errors can be attributed to fatigue.

Reducing brain fog is possible, even if you can’t get those dreamy 7-9 hours. What’s critical to know about lack of sleep and subsequent brain fog is that quality matters more than quantity. A solid 6 is (sleep expert verified) better than a low quality 9.

And how to get better quality sleep? My signature bedtime routine. It helps reduce brainwave activity prior to bed, lessening fogginess the next day.

What you want to crave less sugar

Craving sugar after a bad night’s sleep is actually a thing: evidence shows lack of sleep can increase cravings by a whopping 45 percent. While you may not be able to remedy your lack of sleep the next day, what you can do is balance blood sugar by adding more healthy fats, they promote satiety and a stable release of energy after eating.

Try choc avocado mousse, Jess Sepel’s famous Japanese Salmon and plant-based peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake, all great options that sound deliciously tasty.

Olivia Arezzolo is a sleep expert who holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology); Certificate of Sleep Psychology, Diploma of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine); Certificate of Fitness III + IV. You can find her online here.