Bedtime rituals with the Goodnight Co
Established by Australian mums, Shea & Danielle, The Goodnight Co. launched with a goal to help the world fall back in love with sleep... you don't have to tell us twice! We spoke with co-founder, Shea about the importance of having a sleep ritual and why it is key to improving your sleep. Shea shares with us her top tips for improving gut health which in turn helps with our sleep, as well as her favourite recipes from her new book, Sleep Cleanse. Read the interview below for a better nights sleep.
In the back of our minds, we all know we need sleep... but why is it so important for our physical and emotional health that we get a good night's sleep?
Sleep is where your body finds balance for its many functions, from the emotional to the cognitive, all the way down to the immune system. We need it to function at our best. When you nod off, your body enters a state of relaxation, revitalisation and repair. Your blood pressure drops, blood supply to muscles increases and your body pumps out the hormones essential for tissue development and healing. To set yourself up for a good night’s sleep, we need to slow down the brain before bed, particularly when it’s overstimulated with technology, work, stress and anxiety.
What impact does our gut health have on our sleep, and how can we improve it?
The gut and brain have an intimate relationship, known as the gut-brain axis. The enteric nervous system communicate back and forth with the central nervous system influencing nearly every physiological function in the body. Many factors that affect our sleep are influenced by this gut-brain axis. Our hormones, such as melatonin, which regulates our sleep cycles – can become deficient if gut permeability is compromised. Stress and our emotional state are also strongly associated with our gut health, creating a vicious cycle whereby an ‘unhealthy’ gut can contribute to stress and low mood, whilst stress and low mood can also negatively impact gut health. Gut pain and digestive issues are also associated with an unhealthy gut environment, often disrupting sleep.
Some steps to alter gut health and improve our sleep:
- Create a healthy ‘gut environment’ by eating foods rich in probiotics such as fermented foods, kimchi and or yoghurt.
- Eat prebiotics – veggies such as garlic, onion, peas, beetroot and fennel.
- Avoid alcohol before bed.
Below are some recipes to help you get started from my book Sleep Cleanse.
In your book, Sleep Cleanse, you talk about slowing down your thoughts in the lead up to bedtime, talk us through why this is so important.
We are living in such a rushed digital world today where we're bombarded with messages and information 24/7, the average person is looking at their phone up to 150 times per day. We feel it's important to slow down thoughts and create space to prepare for bed, particularly these days because there is such an overload of time on devices. Slowing down and creating mindful moments is really easy and doesn’t take too long, and it can help separate us from the business of our day. One of the most powerful ways to re-calibrate is to slow down your breathing. Focus predominantly on the out breath because that is the most effective in the release of stress and slowing the system down.
One minute mindful breathing exercise: Inhale for a silent count of 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4, hold the exhale for 4. Repeat three times.
Why is our sleep environment key to a good night’s sleep? How can we create a sleep sanctuary in our own homes?
Creating a restful and calm sleep environment is one of the most important aspects when preparing for good sleep, there is nothing better than crawling into a made bed with crisp, clean sheets! Cool room temperature, good pillows and soft aromatherapy can also help. A study by NASA has also shown that certain plants, such as English ivy, spider plants and peace lilies can purify the air in our homes and create a more relaxing environment. However, one of my favourite tips is to focus on having a clutter free space with minimal distractions to help ease the mind and good blockout curtains to create perfect darkness. Sometimes less is more.
What is your own personal sleep ritual?
I love my sleep rituals, and they often vary depending on the season. In winter, I like to walk around the house after dinner and start dimming or turning off lights to start to get everyone in my house calm. I then try to have a warm bath or shower with candles and do my night-time beauty ritual to re-hydrate my skin. I like to have as much of a tech-free zone at night (although my husband still watches TV), I retreat to my office with a Goodnight Tea to do some reading or a meditation. I like to try to be in bed ready for sleep between 9.30 – 10.00pm and dab my pulse points with some Goodnight Roll On.
In summer there is so much more light which means I can include a grounding practice in the early evening with my children. We take off our shoes and walk barefooted down our long dirt driveway and take time to look at all the animals getting ready for bed and talk about the moon and sometimes get to see the first star of the night. This practice helps to ground yourself on the earth and invites negative ions into our bodies helping lower cortisol levels, boost immunity and reduce inflammation and in turn prepares you for a great night’s sleep.