This is a podcast recording as part of a five-part podcast series done in collaboration with Apex hotels and their WarmerWelcome campaign.

Welcome back to the Rejuvenate, Focus, and Relax Series Podcast with Apex Hotels. I’m Celynn Morin, a wellbeing expert. Today, we’re going to take a look at the ultimate relaxation, which is sleep.

Sleep is one of the fundamental things that we need to be doing in order to be well, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s a fundamental human need, just like food is. However, so many of us are sleep deprived, we are not getting enough sleep. Because, we are so busy, we are so stressed, we are so connected. We almost feel as if we get a badge of honor if we can get away with less sleep. Some of us might even think that sleep is a waste of time. But, is it really? Because, one or two nights of not getting enough sleep is maybe okay. Although, I’m sure that you’ve felt the immediate effects the next day, where you have a bit of brain fog, and you’re maybe a little bit more sluggish, maybe hungrier than usual. I’ll explain why that happens in a moment.

But, we know that long term, if you consistently don’t get enough sleep. Your brain suffers, your body, your physiology, your chemistry. Almost every single part of your sense of wellbeing will be negatively affected. Let’s quantify, I mean how much is enough? According to all the experts, most of us, that’s generally the entire population, needs to be getting more than seven hours of sleep and good quality sleep. Before we go into how you can actually make that really happen, let’s look at the why.

Why do we need the sleep? Because, when we don’t get enough sleep, I mentioned that all kinds of things can go wrong. We know that your brain is one of the first organs to be affected, so you don’t function at the same level of IQ when you don’t have enough sleep. Your memory is not quite the same. All this relates to a process that happens while you’re actually sleeping. When you go into a deep sleep, you go into what we call, “REM sleep,” or, your brain waves dropping to delta wave.

There’s a system that Dr. Tara Schwartz speaks about. Now, Dr. Tara Schwartz is a neuroscientist, she’s a leadership coach, she’s an award-winning author and medical doctor, a really smart lady who focus a lot on sleep. And, speaks about the glymphatic system. Not the lymphatic system, which is the one that cleans out our bodies. But, the glymphatic system, cleans up blocks and tangles that happen in between the neurons in your brain. This cleaning process happens at night, when you’re sleeping. It’s what helps us to have a good memory, and to keep the brain neuro plastic. We know that the brain has the ability to grow new neurons, which is just amazing. Especially if you want to keep mentally alert, so we need to be able to sleep.

Your heart gets affected if you don’t sleep enough. We know that your risk towards having a heart attack or stroke increases when you’re sleep deprived. I mentioned that you get hungrier, and that’s because of a little hormone called, “Ghrelin.” Now, ghrelin might make you think of gremlin. Gremlins were those little guys that were very hungry, and irritable, and angry, and that’s exactly what lack of sleep does, is it makes you hangry. So, hungry and angry at the same time, and makes you crave sugar. That’s not going to help you if you’re wanting to manage your weight, and manage your health.

Another expert, Arianna Huffington, who’s the founder of the Huffington Post, and CEO of Thrive Global has written many, many books. One of her recent books is called, “The Sleep Revolution.” In that book she says, “We really need to redefine success, and how we look at sleep as not being a waste of time, but rather part of helping us be more wise, and show up better in terms of a more fulfilling happy way of life.”

So, what can you do? Whether you’re at home, on the go, staying in a hotel. If you think about a young child going to sleep, so anybody who’s trying to put a baby, or an infant, or a toddler to bed. I’m sure you’ll appreciate the importance of having a routine. They need to go to bed at the same time, we soften their lights, we maybe give them a warm drink, we might even sing to them, or rub their back, or read a bedtime story. How does this relate to you? Well, as an adult the same kind of bedtime routine can help you get a good nights rest. One hour before you plan to sleep, it’s a good idea to do this an hour before, is to think of your five senses and to start to slow down. To really first take a look at out of sight, taste, smell, touch, and hear, let’s take a look at sight.
Try and reduce the lighting around you, so soften the lights. Put on lamps rather than really bright lights. Definitely, stop all lights coming off your digital devices. I cant’ begin to tell you how important this is. Almost every single sleep expert is saying, “The best thing we can do to ensure better quality sleep, is to make sure that we have a digital detox for one hour before we go to bed.” When we look at our devices, our iPads, our cellphones, our laptops, even the television. The lighting emitted from these devices apparently reduces the ability of the pineal gland in your brain to produce a hormone called, “Melatonin.” Melatonin makes you feel sleepy and drowsy. If you want to feel drowsy and sleepy, and get to sleep easy, you have to reduce your exposure to these devices.

Even if you’re using the night time mode, or switching over to different forms of light, the fact is that the content can still impact the way that you feel. The last thing you want to do is read a business related blog post, or see something on social media that makes you feel anxious or irritable. Then, that could impact your sleep. Think about reducing the lighting, and definitely having a digital detox before you go to bed. Ideally for one hour.

Then think about how your taste, could you maybe drink something that could be comforting and warming, like chamomile tea? Simply the ritual of making a warm drink and sipping it can help you to tell your body that you’re going to relax. Definitely try and avoid caffeine before you sleep. Things like sugary and spicy food can also disrupt your sleep, because they can disrupt digestion. Ideally, don’t eat a heavy meal more than two or three hours before going to bed. Reduce your caffeine intake, perhaps six hours before you want to sleep. Especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine. And, having a calming herbal tea, something like chamomile.

Think about the third sense, is your sense of smell. We know there’s research to support that lavender can help you relax. Maybe take a bath, and put in some lavender oil in your bath. Maybe use some lavender oil on your pillow, just to help you use that sense of smell to relax.

Then, think about what touches your skin. Make sure that you’re comfortable in whatever it is that you’re sleeping in. Think about how your pillow feels against your face, and the sheets, and the linen against your skin. I really enjoy sleeping in hotels, ’cause I find that the linen is always such good quality. But, what about your home? Could you make your home the same? I’m not sure if you know that you should be changing your mattress quite often. We should be changing our mattresses apparently every eight years is best, to make sure that we sleep comfortably. Also, think of the temperature in the room. A cooler room temperature is better than a stuffy, warm room.

Then the last tip around your fifth sense, which is your hearing. This is something that I do myself. I use earplugs, which help me. I just use those sponge, keep easy earplugs that can just block out some of that white noise. If you’re traveling a lot, sleeping in different hotel rooms and on the go, that can help a lot. You could also consider using meditation, or gentle music that can act a bit like a lullaby does for a child. Deep breathing can help. In a previous podcast we looked at how breathing, and mindfulness, and meditation can help to reduce the sense of stress, or sense of anxiety that some of us feel. If you suffer from insomnia, if you wake up in the middle of the night and you can’t get back to sleep, definitely try and use breathing, or following a breathing technique like the heart breath.

A heart breath is one that the HeartMath Institute use a lot. What you simply do is you focus your attention on the area of your heart. Imagine breath flowing in and out of your heart. Slow down your breathing. Tape deep inhales. Gently exhale, if you can, think of a feeling, or a word that helps you feel a sense of appreciation, or gratitude, or love. I love my pet Yorkie, I will sometimes picture him, and then focus on my heart, and take deeper breaths in and out. That’s a very powerful technique that can help you relax, especially if you’re struggling to fall asleep.
If you found this podcast helpful, please rate and review. Let us know what you think. Are we on the right track? Please share this with people that you know, that may need this information. You’re also welcome to contact me if you have questions or comments. I’m available on Twitter, using @Celynn, C-E-L-Y double N. Or, on Instagram using @ResilientEnergy. Please join us for the next podcast, where we are going to take a look at the rise of the power nap.

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