The lowdown on sleep: What you really need to know

In celebration of Sleep Awareness Week (August 3 - 9, 2020), we spoke with energy coach, Cassey Maynard about the importance of those precious z's.

We tackle everything from what a good nighttime routine looks like, what the most common misconceptions are and how sleep impacts our bodies in ways we aren't aware of.

We hear all the time that sleep is important, but can you break it down, how important is it really?

Sleep is the number one priority when it comes optimal health. In my opinion it overrides a healthy diet and exercise. Without sleep and in particular REM (deep dream state sleep) our bodies and mind can't rest, recover, restore and heal. 

Not only will lack of sleep make you wake up groggy, unmotivated and unhappy but it will hinder you from make clear decisions. The Immune system will take a hit which makes you more inclined to get sick, your body recovery will be at an all-time low and it can disrupt hormonal balance.

What is the minimum amount of sleep we should be getting per night?

Sleep requirements can vary between people, but I recommend between 7-9 hours to function at peak performance every day. 

What are the side effects of not getting this?

Bad moods, low energy, poor recovery, hormonal imbalances, more prone to sicknesses and even possible weight gain! 

How can we tell if we're getting good, quality sleep?

If you’re waking up feeling groggy, exhausted and unmotivated to get out of bed these are tell tail signs that you’re not getting the quality sleep your body needs. 

How do you recommend improving sleep quality?

Creating healthy sleepy time rituals to get you out of work mode and into a good bedtime routine. It is all about shifting into a different energy space in the evening and calming down the nervous system. 

By simply even getting out of your clothes from the day can make a massive difference. But I also suggest a hot shower, stretch the body, meditation and/or a walk around the block. 

Screen detox a few hours before bed so your mind can settle and try to avoid sugar and alcohol too close to bed time as this will also disrupt your deep sleep. Diffusing essential oils is great to calm the mood and a magnesium supplement to help relax the body. Reading a fictional book, journaling or a guided meditation will help you drift off into a more peaceful sleep.

How can aromatherapy assist?

Certain pure essential oils, when inhaled or massaged onto the body, are capable of relaxing the mind and body because they contain linalool, a compound which is calming and soothing to the central nervous system. 

In addition to acting as natural sedatives, essential oils reduce stress levels which are often synonymous with sleep disorders. Regular use will reinstate healthy sleep patterns and improve sleep quality. I use the In Essence ie: Sleep blend which contains Lavender, Mandarin, Roman Chamomile and Valerian which are known (and proven) to assist with sleep.

What does a good nighttime routine look like?

My ritual starts from the moment I log off from work for the day. 

  • - I diffuse the In Essence ie: Sleep blend to set the bedtime mood and help me relax. I love these products as they are Vegan friendly and cruelty free, 100% pure with no yucky synthetics! 
  • - Evening stretch to release any tension in my body 
  • - Hot steamy bath or shower session with oils infusing, and chill playlist on
  • - Cook a healthy dinner and the eat with my partner
  • - Turn off electronics a few hours before bed to avoid external BS and blue light disruptions 
  • - Journal and/or read in bed
  • - Rub magnesium on my belly
  • - Put In Essence ie: Sleep Essential Oil Roll On on my temples, forehead and neck 

What's an area of our bodies / overall wellness sleep can affect that we may not be aware of?

Hormones! Not enough good quality sleep can affect your body's ability to regulate stress hormones which can lead to an array of issues including weight gain.

What's the most common misconception about sleep?

That alcohol helps you sleep! Alcohol will help you relax and fall asleep but it will contribute to poor quality of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) deep sleep.

BD recommends these must-haves for perfecting your nightly routine:

In Essence Sleep Essential Oil Roll On helps temporarily relieve symptoms associated with sleeplessness, including mild insomnia, nervous tension, restlessness, stress and mild anxiety. It has a calming blend of lavender, mandarin, Roman chamomile and valerian 100 per cent pure essential oils that are traditionally used in aromatherapy for the temporary relief of these symptoms.

The Body Shop Spa Of The World™ French Lavender Pillow Mist helps provide a good night’s sleep. It is infused with lavender essential oil, known for is relaxation powers in France. Simply spritz on a pillow, close eyes and breathe in.

Absolute Essential Twinkle Star encourages sweet dreams and restful sleep. The bedtime blend is carefully crafted to encourage the calmness and relaxation necessary for deep sleep; it promotes easy breathing to guard against broken sleep and may be useful for settling children after bad dreams. Suitable to add to the bath, for diffusion, for drops on pillow, or with massage cream for a loving caress that will help to ease fear, use as directed.

My Clarins RE-CHARGE Relaxing Sleep Mask is a lightweight and fresh sleep mask that helps the skin ‘unplug’ and refresh through its soothing fragrances. It is formulated with huang qi extract for a pure, clear complexion, as well as fig extract with super moisturising power. Acerola seed extract also delivers a fresh, rosy complexion.

LUSH Sleepy Bubble Bar is a soothing, dream-inducing bubble bar. Breathe deep and sink into a warm bath, relaxing in a soothing lavender, tonka and ylang ylang cloud.

endota Organics™ nurture - Calming Sleep Mist is a delicate room mist infused with calming lavender essential oil to help encourage a positive bedtime routine and a peaceful, deep sleep. Gentle and non-toxic.

Natio Ambient Essential Oil Diffuser creates a soothing ambience in the home. Featuring a contemporary glass lid and wooden base, the diffuser also has four mist settings and three light settings to suit any mood or occasion. Use the Ambient Essential Oil Diffuser in ‘sleeping’ mode with 2-3 drops of Natio’s ‘focus on sleep’ pure essential oil blend to help you drift off into a peaceful night’s sleep.

Swisse Ultiboost Magnesium + Sleep Powder is a premium quality formula containing a unique blend of eight nutrients and herbs including choline, inositol, hops and passionflower.

Billie Goat Soap Sandalwood Goat Milk Soap Bar is enriched with fresh Australian goat’s milk, shea butter and vitamin E. It will gently cleanse, hydrate and nourish the skin, and is perfect for daily use. The formula soothes and relaxes the skin with sandalwood, and is suitable for normal, dry and sensitive skin.