World Sleep Day

Is anyone else excited to find out that there is a world sleep day? Maybe we can convince our kids to sleep all day as a celebration! In all seriousness, world sleep day is particularly important because we often forget to place importance on sleep and sleep quality. AND there are so many things that our bodies do during the night (at different times as well) that mean that our bodies can function at their optimum quality if we actually get sleep and quality sleep.

This years slogan is “regular sleep, healthy future.” For some reason there are various sayings and things that seem to be reiterated over and over again associated with sleep. Have you heard of “I have no time to sleep?” Or perhaps, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead?” Well……. If you don’t sleep and get quality sleep, it won’t only put additional pressure on your organs ….. But you may end up dead— due to error of judgement perhaps…… or due to your organs not receiving the time to reset.

My husband is one of those that things sleep isn’t as important ….. And that I waste too much time sleeping …. But honestly — I’m really tired. AND I am beginning to realise just how important my sleep is. If I don’t get enough sleep…… I am cranky in the morning — super cranky…. And if I struggle to get to sleep….. I get angry about not being able to sleep….. And then i get anxious and stressed more easily as well.

So let’s jump into more about sleep! The has great resources around sleep and have resources for teachers, parents and children about sleep as well!

Sleep is an essential function. Like i mentioned above, it helps our body to recharge…. And our minds. We make an unbelievable amount of decisions each day…. And our mind is constantly switched on with this. Quality sleep obviously helps us feel refreshed and alert when you wake up …. And also helps to stave off disease. Think about it….. The last time you were unwell….. Either with a stomach bug or a cold, or another illness…. You felt better when you had a bit more sleep right? You needed the sleep for your body to heal itself! AND our brains don’t function properly with limited sleep. We struggle to concentrate, think clearly and process memories as well.

As a teacher, I saw so many students come to school tired….. And some students come to tutoring extremely tired as well and you know what….their capacity to learn, just isn’t there because they are trying to keep their eyes open. This is the main reason why I try to encourage my HSC students to actually go to bed early and sleep before their exams…. Rather than cram until ridiculous hours of the morning.

Adult need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. And yes, I know, as a mother sometimes we don’t get the sleep we need…… but we can always work at it! Children and teenagers need more sleep than that …particularly our younger kiddos.

BUT there are so many things that mean that we struggle to sleep well. Things like diet, exercise, schedules, disruptive bedroom environments, medical conditions can be the difference between quality sleep and disruptive sleep.

There is STACKS of research on sleep. The things you need to know is this though …… our internal body clock is the bit that regulates our sleep cycle. It helps up to feel tired and get ready for bed…. Or helps us to feel refreshed and ready for the day. Light that we are exposed to helps us to maintain our sleep cycle…… and melatonin that is produced and released as natural light disappears at night, helps make us drowsy to sleep. Our bodies are also conditioned to wake up when our bodies release cortisol to promote energy and alertness, as the sun rises.

The best bit….. Most bodies do this without help. BUT some of our kids and adults struggle to produce sufficient melatonin and may need assistance to produce this for them.

Our bodies also go through different cycles throughout the night between light sleep and deeper sleep of REM cycles. If we do not progress through these cycles effectively, or we are woken up at different times in the night, it will mean that our REM cycles are interrupted…… and these cycles are matched to our organs and their rejuvenation as well.

As eluded to above, chinese medicine also provides clues as to what organs are optimised at what time of the day. There are cycles our bodies go through to cleanse and optimism these cycles as well. Some of you may not believe these pieces of information — -but I personally find this fascinating.

SO during our sleep cycle our Gallbladder, liver and lungs are detoxified and cleansed.

11pm – 1 am is our Gallbladder. This is also connected in chinese medicine to decision making and it is suggested that if you are struggling with this, you may struggle to fall asleep at this time.

1-3am is the liver which detoxifies the body and processes our emotions.

3-5am is the lungs which connect to the emotions of grief and sadness.

If you wake up between different hours above, it may be useful to examine emotionally what you are feeling to see if you can unblock this feeling. This is not a new exploration for myself, as I did learn a lot of this information while completing my Yoga teaching course– and you may not believe it at all! But it is something to consider.

SO how can we help our sleep? How can we make sure we are optimising the sleep we should be getting!

WELL I use sleep aides when I need them….. And you should too if you struggle with sleep.

Many companies have created alarm clocks that provide more natural ways of waking up…. Rather than your alarm SCREAMING AT YOU which act like a sunrise and sunset by slowly waking you up more naturally with light. These are effective ways to help you relax awake instead of startle awake rudely and won’t what on earth is happening!

Establishing a realistic bedtime though is a great way to start! Get your phone outta your room (i need to listen to this!) and creating structure around not looking on socials at bed time. Our phone produce blue light to keep us awake….. As do computers…. I pads…. Tvs… etc… they are allllllll fighting for your attention!

Making sure you room is for sleep and not work, and that it is comfortable is helpful too. Turning off overhead lights and dimming lights at night time help for your melatonin production as well.

Not drinking alcohol, caffeine, large meals in the hours leading up to bedtime. EXercise during the day also assists you too!

You may find things like calming yoga sequences and meditation help your mind to settle and calm down after a day.

Separating time from work to your own time, rest, relaxation and rejuvenation works.

AND if you need aids….. I’ve tried some products that I find quite effective.

Magnesium spray- I like Bare Body Beauty (local!) to help me calm down to sleep…… on my feet — I use this when I really cant’ relax.

Meditations at bedtime work wonders for me too.

Doterra Lavender Peace blend has also worked in the past and things like Sleep Tea from T2 I lovveeee it works amazingly to calm me down as well as Naked Harvest Choc Moon Mylk works wonders too when I am super tired (it has magnesium in it too!).

Otherwise…… just some peace away from everything should help to.

Happy sleeping!

Written by Alysha Griffiths, owner of Breakaway Education, Mittagong and Wilton.

Written by Alysha Griffiths, owner of Breakaway Education, Mittagong and Wilton.
Photograph of Alysha Griffiths

Who is Alysha Griffiths?

Alysha Griffiths is a passionate educator, owner of Breakaway Education and a mum to June. With over 10 years teaching experience in schools, Alysha’s passion lies in education and helping kids and parents to connect the puzzle pieces of education! With a Masters in Teaching (Secondary) and a Bachelor of Arts (History, English) Alysha continually works to gain more insight and knowledge across many areas of education.