Wellness

My sleep time non-negotiables

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It isn’t a secret how obsessed I am with sleep. When I hit rock bottom in 2015, sleep was the bane of my existence. I was walking around like a zombie, in the crux of a horrible adrenal fatigue, and even though I could feel the tiredness seeping into my limbs (preventing me from training – even yoga or walking was too hard for me) – I just couldn’t get enough sleep.

I would lie awake in bed feeling physically EXHAUSTED counting down the hours it would take me to drift off. And when I finally WAS asleep, it was one of those awful half-awake ones where it felt like I was back awake every hour. I could be lying in bed for 10 hours and get only a couple of hours of real sleep. No wonder I felt like I’d been hit my a bus on waking every day.

During that phase of my life, I weighed everything I ate, avoided gluten and dairy and sugar like the bloody plague, and exercised multiple times a day. I thought I was the epitome of health and yet my health came crashing down from underneath me. Oh the irony.

A big factor in this crumbling of my wellbeing?

Lack of sufficient sleep.

Which is why today I preach more about getting sufficient sleep than I do about exercise and eating well.

Because here’s the thing – we KNOW how to exercise. We also know how to eat healthily. But do we really know how to get sufficient sleep?

My time in practice, coaching hundreds of women in learning how to live their happiest and healthiest lives, tells me we have a LONG way to go when it comes to managing our sleep the same way we manage our health by other means.

Sleep is VITAL when it comes to:

  • Alleviating stress levels
  • Maintaining vital and positive energy
  • A rocking libido
  • Weight loss
  • Preventing disease including heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes
  • Managing mental illness including depression and anxiety

And yet phrases like “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” perpetuate the notion that sleep is for the weak. Actually, it is the opposite – you cannot be strong, physically, mentally or emotionally, without sufficient sleep.

I harp on all about the key facts of sleep here, if you are interested. Like how, we should be aiming for between 7-9 hours of UNINTERRUPTED sleep per night. It should take us 15 minutes to fall asleep at night.

If, like mine were, your eyes are popping out of your head in the realisation your sleep is not at all ‘healthy’ – don’t worry. Below are my top tips for managing your healthiest, best sleep ever. Stick to these tips for the next 30 nights and I guarantee you, you will be sleeping like a boss in no time (take it from the girl who has 9 hours uninterrupted a night – unless there’s a full moon, obviously!)

MAKE FRIENDS WITH MELATONIN

Melatonin is our sleep hormone. In cave man times, when the sun went down, our melatonin levels would rise, telling our bodies it was time for sleep. We would wake with the sun, which would decrease our melatonin levels.

Melatonin MATTERS when it comes to sleep, and is totally determined by LIGHT.

This is why it is so important to be in dim lighting at least an hour before bed time. We forget this, and spend time in bright lights, with back lit devices all the way up to shut eye, and wonder why we can’t switch off and drift to sleep. Because our poor melatonin levels are confused – they think it’s still day time!

Make the effort to transition to dim lighting an hour before bed – be it light dimmers, lamps or candles, and notice the impact this makes as you physically wind down before bed.

Additionally, in the morning, switch on ALL the lights and get yourself in brightness as much as possible! Bye-bye melatonin, hello morning burst of energy!

(Sleep-pro tip: Those people going for walks in the dark before bed? Not actually crazy – they are getting their melatonin hit right before sleep!)

MAGNESIUM OIL – THE GAME CHANGER

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As much as I know all about sleep, there are times when I need an extra push. Enter, magnesium oil. When I was in the holds of my fatigue, I took magnesium supplements to aid my sleep, which really helped me at the time. What I didn’t know, is you can actually use a body OIL that has the exact same effect! SO easy and damn effective!

Introducing SALT LAB. These guys have been a huge game changer for me recently, especially as my heightened adrenaline levels lately have lead to longer time than desired falling asleep.

What I didn’t know is our bodies only absorb 20-50% of oral supplements, and the additional stress this puts on our digestive system and organs is unnecessary when there is a body OIL available that works even more effectively! Our bodies are able to self regulate and absorb what is needed when using an oil, putting no additional stress on our organs and digestive system. PLUS, because the oil is is absorbed through our skin, it travels straight into our blood cells – talk about a quick hit!

After only 3 days of using this spray, my sleep was back to normal. Now I don’t go a night without it. Just spray on your belly – it is literally that simple! (If it tingles it means you may be deficient in magnesium, and can add it to a carrier oil like coconut oil.) You can read all about the effects of magnesium and sleep here: but just know, it has totally worked for me (and Trent too!)

(For your chance to win one of two SALT LAB sprays, jump on my Instagram page stat and check out the most recent post!)

TEMPERATURE MATTERS

There is a reason I am such a fan of baths before bed! Not only are they bloody relaxing, helping you to wind down and get into a relaxed state before dozing off, but the drop in body temperature when you hop out of a hot bath (or shower) signals to your body that it is sleep time.

This is also why some of us like sleeping with the fan on in summer, but a doona over our bodies. We KNOW intrinsically what the right body temperature is for sleep – too hot or too cold and it just won’t cut it. Aim for around 18 degrees.

SO LONG SCROLLING 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news guys, but for a good night’s sleep you really need to get rid of your phones. And laptops. Even your Kindles. Back lit devices totally mess with our melatonin and also, we aren’t allowing our minds to really wind down. If you do everything else, but still scroll, and you have trouble with your sleep – it is time for the phone to go.

Try what I do – stick your phone on flight mode an hour before bed time and dim the lighting right down. That way even if you are tempted to check your phone, you won’t be distracted by anything! Switch up your phone for reading (using a warm lamp by your bedside), or writing down everything you are grateful for that day. We are all after more time in our day – so use this hour for YOU and make it pampering and productive.

LAVENDER OIL ON EVERYTHING

Yes Hollie, I hear you think, we know you love essential oils. Well it’s true, I do. And one of my favourites is Lavender because of its calming properties – not just for anxiety and stress, but for sleep too. We diffuse lavender every night before bed (and while we sleep) as well as two drops on our pillow cases. We travel with it. My partner is the most masculine guy you will come across and whinges like crazy when we run out of lavender oil.

My bestie who was a bit cynical about this whole oils ‘thing’ started using lavender oil when I found out she never dreamed. This told me she most likely wasn’t getting the deep REM stage of sleep needed for full body rest and restoration. Her first night diffusing lavender and guess what? She had a dream. And sleep hasn’t been an issue of her’s since.

Want to know where to get the best quality lavender oil for your sleep? Send me a message and I will send you a sample!

Truth be told, I do a whole lot more in setting myself up for epic sleep – these just scrape the top of the barrel. If you are keen to learn more, I HIGHLY recommend reading Arianna Huffington’s SLEEP REVOLUTION (#girlcrush) – or just watch this space, as I plan my next ebook on all things SLEEP!

How do you ensure you are settled in for an epic sleep? 

BUY your Salt Lab Magnesium Oil here! 

 

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Last week a stranger called me fat…

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It’s true. It went something like “So now that you’re fat you are trying to convince everyone else and yourself that you are healthy…”

The picture he was responding to is the one I have shared above. A before/after of a different kind.

I have become privy to sharing these kinds of images on my social media channels – an attempt to break down the stereotypes we have around what ‘healthy’ looks like. That even though my ‘before’ image looks the picture of health (with my toned body, thigh gap and abs), I was actually extremely unwell. And that while in the after photo I am more curvy (even more so than I am right now given this was taken 2 months into a Europe dream trip where I ate whatever I wanted) – I was far healthier in the second photo – mind, body and soul. Even though I don’t have the abs, and heaven forbid my breasts are bigger.

When I posted this photo I didn’t expect much, because I wasn’t doing it for any kind of ‘exposure’ or external validation. I was sharing it for my clients – the ones suffering anorexia and bulimia, the ones who have attempted suicide and self-harm driven to helplessness because of an obsession with the way that they look. I was posting it for young girls growing up in an era like never before – where ‘fitspo’ and eating disorder encouragement Instagram accounts are easily accessible at the click of a button. Where ‘skinny teas’ are even a thing (why?!) I was posting it for anyone who has ever looked at themselves in the mirror and burst into tears. For anyone who ever fad dieted in an attempt to feel better about themselves, only having the opposite effect, and feeling far worse. I was sharing it for my sister, for my mother, for my family and friends – all of us who have ever felt ashamed by the beautiful bodies we have been given.

So you can imagine my surprise when the post went semi-viral. I had to re-charge my phone 7 times that day, until I eventually gave up and switched it off. More than 5 thousand people liked the post (and for someone who gets excited at 100 likes, you can imagine the overwhelm). I doubled my followers overnight. My message requests went through the roof. Messages like:

I am 18 from Paris, and I want to tell you how inspiring you are. I am struggling with a binge eating disorder. I feel alone. And sad. Seeing your account made me a little less alone and thank you for that. 

Thank you for this post. I am trying to love myself but it is so hard some days. I see a post like your and we have very similar bodies, but one difference – you smile more. I need to learn to love mine and then mine will be beautiful like yours. Thank you for the inspiration. 

Today I am in the first situation – obsessed with my body, my weight, the gym…my goal is to like myself and never feel this culpability again. And when I discovered you, it makes me strong because I know that I will arrive, I have hope, because it is possible. 

Literally hundreds of comments and messages like the above. Beautiful women who are sick of fighting life-long battles with their bodies. Crying out for understanding and love.

So when someone jumps on my post and calls me fat, it infuriates me.

And not for the reasons you might think.

I have done the work on myself enough to know that these comments are empty words – in fact, at first when I saw them, I would smile. You know you’re doing something right when you start pissing people off.

But then I sat with it. And got mad. How DARE these people feel it okay to body shame with absolutely NO idea of my circumstances. It made me angry for my clients, for my followers, and for all the women who had reached out to me offering love and support, crying out for help. These people were not to know if I was battling an eating disorder. If I was self-harming or heaven-forbid had attempted suicide. Do they not understand the power of a phrase like that, especially on a post aimed to inspire and uplift?

It also shocked me the number of men feeling it completely in their right to comment on my breasts. The sexualisation of my body has been something I have been extremely self-conscious of. I am bigger busted naturally, and constantly hide my figure behind baggy clothes, covering my face with my long hair. Truth be told, part of me has never wanted to be ‘seen’. I have been conscious of my body my entire life for this EXACT reason – sexualisation of my body because I have big breasts.

When I made a comment about this on my Instagram stories, again my inbox was flooded with women who feel the same. Incredibly self-conscious of their beautiful feminine shape, because they don’t want to be a ‘target’ for unwanted male attention. It really struck me how big an issue this is. And how I no longer want to hide behind the baggy clothes.

I LOVE my body and I have worked fucking hard to love it. Every single inch of it. But that doesn’t give ANYBODY the right to abuse it, shame it or sexualise it. Ironically (or maybe not) ALL of the shaming was from men. And that upsets me because I love men – my dad, my fiancé, my brother, my best friends. Is this a generalisation I am making or a real issue? And either way, what can we do to stop it?

Truth be told – I have no idea. But I am grateful for my post, and the comments it received, because it opened my eyes to issues far larger than before/after pictures or ‘fitspo’.

And mark my words I will make it my mission to promote body love every single damn day. For me, for you, for our future daughters (and sons). No more baggy clothes for me.

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