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Is your sleep restorative?

One of the most fundamental health priorities and wellness indicators is sleep. Sleep quality, length and timing are all factors that will affect your quality of life. An appraisal of sleep usually involves the following:

  • Onset: Ability to fall asleep

  • Maintenance: sustaining sleep

  • Offset: waking early; and

  • Restorative sleep: feeling refreshed upon waking.

Are you experiencing restorative sleep?

How do you feel when you wake up? Are you drowsy or do you feel well rested?

This can definitely depend on what time you are getting up and what time you went to bed. A 12am bedtime or a 4am wake-up is likely to provide some intense sleepiness. If your sleep hours are approx. 8 hours between 9pm and 7am, it will be easier to assess because this is a typically restful routine.

Objectively, you can look at how many times you wake up during the night, wake times and how long you stayed awake, considering restorative hours are usually 2 - 4 am. Coupled with how you feel physically, an assessment can be made.

Poor sleep can be cyclic for some, but consistent for others and unfortunately physically getting used to sleep issues is not possible. The body needs restorative sleep for so many reasons including:

  • Immune health

  • Weight maintenance

  • Cognitive function

  • Memory creation

  • Mood balance

  • Emotional stability

  • Appetite

Just to name a few.

When is it considered “insomnia”

Sleep disorders such as insomnia are common and is usually applicable when there have been sleep complications for longer than 3 months and they occur up to 3 times a week. "Complications" being the factors used for appraisal as mentioned above.

The main symptom of insomnia is daytime sleepiness, while is common, often indicates that health improvements need to be made. This might be changes to sleep hygiene but often there will be other bodily systems to address.

Why can’t I sleep?

In this situation, occam’s razor is usually considered i.e. What is the most obvious answer? This cannot always be identified by an individual, which is why seeing a practitioner is helpful.

What a practitioner might assess:

Ingestive Disruptors – caffeine, alcohol, medication, recreational drugs. Note that your intake of these might be the same as usual, but a substance’s affect can change day to day. Adenosine is a sleep onset hormone which is antagonized by these substances.

Mental and emotional – stress, anxiety, fear, grief. Cortisol produced during this type of overstimulation interferes in the role of the “stay asleep” hormone Melatonin.

Environmental – Temperature changes, noise and light are huge interrupters. Melatonin is modulated by light, being more preferrable during the day.


This will depend on the cause. It may mean 1. Reducing or eliminating substances, 2. improving the sleep environment and 3. adopting stress management practices.

Core Daily actions for better sleep:

  • Daily Exercise – for stress management, but also tires the body.

  • Nutrient dense diets – associated with better sleep onset. Sleep hormones also depend on Tryptophan, Magnesium and carotenoid rich foods for synthesis.

  • Sunlight – Sit outside for 30 minutes of bright light.

When to investigate further

Always seek help for causes such as pain, snoring or restless leg syndrome, which usually require further assessments, testing and a broader scope of treatment. Further investigation into reasons for fatigue that extend beyond poor sleep may also be required – these include thyroid hormones, Iron levels and infections.

If you would like to improve your sleep and relieve fatigue, please get in touch for a consultation.

Jo Knight – Naturopath @ Purple Tree Therapies

BHlthSc(ComplMed), Adv Dip Nat., Adv Dip Nut., Adv Dip. WestHerbMed

Located at Habitual Health Collective, New Farm, Qld.


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