Did you know sleep deprivation is bad for business? In the UK, it costs the economy £40.2 billion in lost productivity each year.
- The Sleep Charity UK
Sleep. It’s the sweetest medicine. It affects almost every tissue and system in the body; it regulates our metabolism; it restores energy levels; it even affects our mood.
September marks Sleeptember in the UK— a month-long awareness campaign run by The Sleep Charity to help people of all ages sleep better. Sounds good, right?
Discover which top five wellness treatments you can use to promote those all important Zzzs.
Acupuncture helps stimulate the production of melatonin — the hormone released by the pineal gland to control our sleep-wake cycle. Research has even found acupuncture to help prevent sleep apnea. What’s more, it can help minimise allergies, stimulate blood flow and improve your physical and emotional wellbeing.
Slipping into a deeply relaxed state is vital for quality sleep; and that’s where massages come in. A full body massage can decrease the amount of cortisol (the stress hormone) your body produces, and stimulate the release of serotonin (for mood and sleep) and dopamine (a feel-good neurotransmitter).
Add some aromatic essential oil into the mix, and you’ll find that your heart rate reduces and your senses are calmed. A massage using lavender, sandalwood, jasmine or a blend of all three will leave you in a state of zen for a sleep that dreams are made of.
Studies indicate that yoga can improve sleep quality, reduce stress and sleep disturbances, and help children, adults and the elderly to enjoy a deeper state of relaxation. Its balance of exercise, mindfulness (which can increase melatonin levels), and controlled breathing all contribute to inducing better levels of sleep. It can even help reduce Restless Leg Syndrome.
You don’t have to practise yoga regularly to feel the benefits, although evidence shows that the more you practice, the greater the results.
Shiatsu is an ancient Japanese massage technique with roots in Chinese medicine. It works on the premise that health issues occur when your qi energy is low or blocked. But instead of using needles to rebalance energy flow, like acupuncture, shiatsu uses human touch, gently applying pressure to specific pressure points on your body. This stimulates lymph flow, boosts blood vessels dilation, and helps eliminate toxins.
You can perform certain shiatsu massage techniques on yourself; sleep-inducing points are found at the back of your neck, your inner wrist, your ankle, the space between your eyebrows, and on the soles of your feet. However, it’s best that you go to a trained practitioner, who’ll know exactly which points you’ll respond to best.
This ancient Indian medical system made the headlines a few years ago when pharmaceutical companies tried to patent certain therapies — an indication of just how effective Ayurveda can be. Ayurveda relies on a holistic, natural approach to physical and mental wellbeing and even though it’s a great excuse to book a holiday, you don’t have to travel to India to find an ayurvedic expert.
An ayurvedic massage itself is deeply soothing, but it’s Shirodhara — hot oil pouring — that’s most commonly prescribed to aid sleep. This technique involves the continuous pouring of warmed oil onto your forehead at a certain temperature and speed, for a specific length of time. It’s a wonderfully warming sensation, and more relaxing than it sounds, I promise.
There are treatments that can be done at home, too — a hot bath with Epsom salts, for example, gives your body a heat-infused magnesium boost (magnesium is known to improve sleep). But most important is the adoption of a good sleep hygiene routine.
You can find plenty of tips on the Sleep Foundation’s website, but top takeaways are to go to bed at the same time every night, avoid stimulants (caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar) past midday, and practise pre-sleep wind-downs (bath, reading, meditating) to lower your cortisol.
Let us know how you get on. And spread the word: relaxing treatments aren’t just good for your business, they’re essential for our overall health!