An A to Z of Successful Sleep

An alphabetic journey of amazing facts about sleep.


Adenosine – a substance in the brain that builds up over the day and assists sleep onset. The Adenosine system relies on sleep to decrease its concentration.


Bedding – a good quality mattress, supportive pillows and comfortable sheets are worth investing in if it means your sleep will improve. Don’t skimp here.


Circadian Rhythms – the human wake/sleep cycle indicating typical hormonal secretion. Respecting this cycle can help to prevent sleep disruption.

Caffeine - this will always affect our wake/sleep cycle. Ditch caffeine after 12pm to limit sleep disturbance.


Devices – Blue light from phones and other devices can impair melatonin production and therefore upset sleep quality and/or cause sleep latency.


Eating times – Consuming food close to bed is often considered a deterrent to restful sleep, as is being hungry at bed time. It really depends on the individual, but be aware of what works for you.


Food and drink - be aware of any food that contains caffeine such as ice creams and dark chocolate. Alcohol will also cause a decline in sleep quality by limiting restorative sleep.


Genetic Predisposition – this can affect your sleep requirements. Only a very small portion of individuals can get away with less than 8 hours and still maintain good health in the long term.


Hours - adults are recommended to have at least 8 hours. Some individuals will require more due to health conditions causing poor sleep quality.

Herbs - there are herbs a plenty shown in clinical trials to assist sleep disorders and disruptions. Some are mentioned in this list.


Identifying the Problem – if you are waking up unrefreshed, finding out why your sleep is not restoring your energy and alertness is important. Read on!


Joy – a joyous state over a stressed one is more likely to usher you into a restorative sleep. This has to do with Cortisol (stress hormone) and Melatonin (sleep hormone) being produced at appropriate times.


Kava – a herb for sleep onset and anxiety where sleep quality is impaired.


Light – a dark environment will assist melatonin production and sleep maintenance. Avoid blue light after 9pm.


Maintenance – staying asleep throughout the night can mean we are more likely to experience sleep stages in ideal amounts. Poor maintenance can indicate nutritional deficiency or a stressed brain.

Melatonin - a hormone that helps you to stay asleep. Recent research is highlighting its role as an antioxidant which might play a role in preventing disease later in life.


Non-REM Sleep – the deepest kind of sleep which also detoxes the brain. This is the most restorative type of sleep and occurs around 2am.


Onset – when sleep begins. A delay here can be attributed to many different factors and is important to identify what it might be in order to address it.


Pain - chronic or acute pain can cause disruptions in restorative sleep. Pain management will assist in a more successful sleep cycle especially when concurrently addressing other sleep deterrents.


Quality – Sleep quality typically declines after the age of 65. At any age, you might have the ideal amount of sleep, but if the quality lacks, you may not feel as rested.


REM Sleep – this type of sleep allows memories to be processed.


Stress – A huge deterrent of sleep onset and maintenance as the occurrence of stress hormones is typically associated with our awake state.


Timing - circadian rhythms indicate sleep is best achieved around 9pm. Going to bed around this time each night will create a positive sleep pattern.

Temperature – heat and cold may be the main cause of poor sleep. A warm bath or shower before bed gets the body at optimal sleeping temperature (even in Summer!).


Urination – this is one of the most common reasons that we wake up during the night. Watch your liquids before bed if this is a persistent issue.


Valerian – a common and excellent sleep herb. There are actually different types of Valerian and they are not suitable for everyone. Always consult a herbalist before use.


Withania – a herb for when we are tired but wired. It will assist with achieving a more restful sleep.


X-Rated Activity – fast sleep onset is often associated with the post-coital stage despite nebulous information surrounding this phenomenon 😉


You – individuals and their relationship with sleep is a complicated network of physiology, psychology, stimulus and environment.


Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz – catching Z’s is often taken for granted. More importance should be placed on this function. See points A - Y above.

Want to explore your sleep requirements in more detail? For more targeted advice suited to you, please get in touch via my website, via phone or email at

Purple Tree Therapies is located in New Farm but can also do video consultations via Zoom.