Laura Cini Wellness : lauraciniwellnes.com

Hannah:
Welcome back Burn Pod listeners. We’re once again very grateful to be joined by Laura Cini, nutritionist and naturopath from Hobart. And on today’s episode we’re diving into sleep. If you haven’t yet already, jump on back and have a listen to our previous podcasts on weight loss/fat loss and energy. Now, some of us are fortunate enough to have good sleeping patterns or find it easy to fall asleep. But sleep can be very difficult for other people, particularly during a stressful time in someone’s life or due to hormonal changes, or maybe there’s a little sleep vampire child or children sucking sleep from you. And I know we hear regularly for my clients who are going through perimenopause or menopause that sleep can be very difficult. So let’s dive on into this topic. Laura, firstly, how much is enough sleep?

Laura Cini :
Oh, good question, Hannah. Okay. So the average adult needs between seven to nine hours of sleep. Some individuals can get by with very little sleep, maybe four or five hours a night. I’m not one of them, definitely. And that’s not the norm. Generally it’s around seven to nine hours a night.

Hannah:
Can you oversleep? Asking from a personal, I’m quite frequently like a 10 hour person perfect sleep.

Laura Cini :
Yeah. Look, some people do need a little bit more than that.

Hannah:
I’m not sure if I need it. I think the option’s there so I take it.

Laura Cini :
And look, if you’ve been super busy lately, perhaps your stress levels have been a bit high. If you’ve been training really hard lately and you’re regenerating and building new muscle, then maybe you need a bit more than normal. If you’ve been sick, had an infection, yeah. Maybe you do need more than normal. But yeah, most people find seven to nine hours. When I say seven to nine hours, I’m talking quality sleep. I’m not talking, waking up and being awake for half an hour or an hour before you get back to sleep, this is solid time asleep.

Hannah:
Yeah. The racing mind issue. That’s what I call it. Can’t get sleep, mind’s racing, wake-up, minds racing. I had a bit of that during the opening of Moonah, that’s for sure.

Laura Cini :
Yes. That’s the monkey mind, where it’s just all over the place. It just doesn’t stop. Doesn’t it?

Hannah:
Yeah, it doesn’t. So what are the common problems you hear about when it comes to poor sleep?

Laura Cini :
Sure. Yeah. Look, this is really common. I see a lot of clients that have issues with sleep and they may not come to me about sleep. They may come to me for another reason, maybe anxiety or weight loss or menopause, but sleeps in the mix. And usually they’re having trouble getting to sleep. So sleep onset insomnia, or they’re having trouble maintaining sleep. So they get to sleep okay and then they wake up maybe at 2:00 AM or I don’t know, 4:00 AM and then it’s difficult for them to get back to sleep. So they’re not getting quality or a duration of sleep.

Laura Cini :
Some of them have issues with restless legs. So their legs sort of twitch and move around at night, which makes it really difficult to get into a deep sleep. And often if that’s the case, we’ll do a bit of a nutritional assessment because there can be nutritional deficiencies that can cause that. Some people get the muscle cramps. I don’t know if you’ve ever had these at night, Hannah, but I know when I was a teenager, I remember getting these waking up in the middle of the night just in excruciating pain.

Hannah:
Oh, growing pains. That’s what we called them when we were kids. Even though I got what mom called growing pains, I’m not sure that actually made me grow.

Laura Cini :
Well, look, either that sort of intense muscle cramping or that sort of achy feeling. Another issue for many women around perimenopause or menopause is they’re getting night sweats in the middle of the night and they’re having to either change their pyjamas, maybe even their sheets, in most extreme cases. Busy mind, as you mentioned, or waking up hungry. Sometimes I get clients that… I remember one from a few years ago, particularly who was really on a very extreme diet. We certainly needed to address that, but she was waking hungry at night because she hardly eaten anything during the day.

Hannah:
Yeah. It’s quite painful sometimes, hunger pains.

Laura Cini :
Yes.

Hannah:
I get them and I definitely have eaten enough during the day occasionally. We’ve started talking about some of the key reasons for poor sleep, but let’s get into that a little bit more. What are the key reasons for poor sleep? All those different interruptions that you’ve talked about just then.

Laura Cini :
Yeah, sure. So as I’ve mentioned on previous podcasts, cortisol is a hormone that your body uses when it’s been under high stress. Cortisol normally sits in a good regular pattern through the day where it has peaks and troughs. What happens when you’ve been under a fair bit of stress is that pattern becomes dysregulated. It just goes out the window and you end really tired and wired at night. So you are sort of lying there and your mind’s racing and you can’t get into a deep sleep or you’ll get to sleep and then you wake up way too early, 2:00 AM or 4:00 AM and find it difficult to get back to sleep. So that’s a really common one.

Laura Cini :
And what a lot of people don’t realise is that it’s hard for the body to change gears rapidly. So if you’ve been in fourth or fifth gear all day, and I know we’re all guilty of this, running around like a mad thing, trying to get you to-do list done and cook dinner for the family and get an assignment in or do your work, you really can be quite stressed. And then when you get home and you try and get the dinner on the table, it’s all the stuff that goes on at home. Then you try and sit down and relax. It’s really hard for the body to switch from that, go, go, go into rest, relax mode. And there’s cortisol element in that and an adrenaline element. It’s hard to say that, adrenaline element in that as well. So that is something that we’ll use evidence-based herbal medicine to assist, to get that cortisol back into better balance. So yeah, there are common reasons why-

Hannah:
And all of us have felt that at some point. Like we talked about on a previous podcast where in a society that’s go, go, go, go, particularly it’s women, we’re everything to everyone. So having to go from 100% go, get the food on the table, kids to sleep, bath, bed, ah, I talk to my husband, dang, I have to go to sleep. Sometimes doesn’t work too well.

Laura Cini :
Exactly, and then you’re thinking, “Oh, gosh. Well, I really just want an hour to myself.” And then you stay up till really late at night because you just want a quiet hour to yourself when you don’t have to do anything or cook or clean up. And so then you’re not getting enough sleep, and it’s really hard to wind down. I think I mentioned in a previous podcast that hurry, worry, money sort of mentality through the day where we’re worrying about money or we’re hurrying and got loads of things to do. And then for the body to switch gears into rest, relax mode, it’s really difficult. It often doesn’t happen very efficiently. So that’s something that needs to be worked on with a practitioner.

Hannah:
And I guess a huge one is, in previous years we weren’t always accessible, but now we have smartphones and the smartphones are next to us on our bedside table at night. And we don’t actually get an opportunity to switch off. I don’t, I find it really difficult to stop. A text message or something comes through and I’m like, “Oh, I’ll just reply to that.” And then you get on your phone, you reply to that. And then you’re like, “Oh, just check Facebook.” And then next minute, half an hour long, it has been scrolling on a blue screen, the blue light, looking at it. And then you try and go to sleep and your mind’s full of all of this crap you’ve just seen and you can’t sleep. And we do that. We wake up. Like I actually did it for a bit until I found that it was just actually making me stressed. I’d wake up and check emails. That’s how I’d actually get myself out of bed and wake up. That’s terrible. That’s how I [crosstalk 00:09:33] like, “Oh, my alarm goes off. Let’s do emails now.” Wow.

Laura Cini :
Look, it’s so difficult because yeah, there’s so many benefits of being so accessible and having a smartphone, but yes, the pressure to be accessible and to check emails and get work done, the pressure’s enormous. And that blue light from screens is a real problem for our sleep-wake cycle. We’re not designed to, once it gets dark, we were not designed for our eyes to be exposed to light. And it really does suppress our sleep hormone, melatonin. So it’s significant issue. So look, I’m not suggesting people go and live in a cage and throw their smartphone away. It’s just not practical. But what I focus on with my clients is light smart tips. So tips around how to manage that blue light. And there are ways that you can do that and it can have a huge effect on your sleep-wake cycle. So you get into a deeper quality sleep.

Hannah:
Wake up feeling refreshed.

Laura Cini :
Yeah, that’s right.

Hannah:
This is pretty well a perfect segue into my next question, which was and is, what are some of the basic ways that we can immediately start to support our sleep patterns?

Laura Cini :
Yes. So being light smart. So trying to minimise your time on devices close to bed. I know it’s not always possible and some people are a lot more light sensitive than others. I know my partner is able to sit there pretty happily on his phone before bed and has no trouble dropping into a lovely, deep sleep. Whereas I know myself and many of my friends find that just doesn’t work. The effect on our melatonin is just really measurable and really interferes with our sleep quality. So yeah, being smart about light.

Laura Cini :
Making sure that your bedroom is not too hot and not too cold. It’s a bit like the Goldilocks Principle, with the porridge and being not too hot, not too cold, just right. So around about 18 degrees is a good temperature that will help the body. Your core body temperature needs to drop a bit when you go to sleep, but you need to not be cold, so that’s important. Having a dark bedroom, and for some people it means so dark that you can’t actually see your hand in front of your face. This will mean that you’ll get maximum melatonin release, that’s your sleep hormone. And for many, having dark curtains or block-out blinds can really make quite a difference to the quality of their sleep.

Hannah:
No, it’s not too much of a problem at the moment where everything’s pitch black by 6:00 PM, and doesn’t see any light until 7:00. But during summer that’s definitely difficult for us to get a full eight hours of dark, dark.

Laura Cini :
Yes. Yeah, that’s right. If you’ve got that sort of busy mind happening, then there are some really good evidence-based herbal medicines and nutritional medicines that can help to calm the mind and also relax the muscles. And they’re not addictive and they don’t leave you drowsy in the morning. And they can be used intermittently as needed or during a really stressful period. You might have a few weeks or a few months, then those evidence-based herbal medicine options can be really helpful. I have a number of clients that use those. I prescribe them and they can make a really big difference just to help to calm the mind down a bit.

Laura Cini :
And be careful with herbal and nutritional supplements. There’s a lot of really rubbish ones on the market with rubbish raw materials, really poor quality and inadequate doses of the active ingredients. So yeah, not from a supermarket, not from a pharmacy, do get them from a practitioner. So they’re prescribed properly. They’re not going to interact with any pharmaceutical medicines that you’re taking. But yeah, that can be really helpful. If you’ve got someone that’s really trying and doing the right thing and their mind is still really busy and perhaps its in the middle of a very stressful time and they don’t have the ability to take a lot of rest time at that moment. So, that can really help.

Hannah:
Yeah. And a big one that we hear a lot from our menopausal clients is that, sleep is just something that completely dodges them. Is that an hormonal connection there?

Laura Cini :
Yeah. That’s as their hormone profile changes. And many people think that it’s a very sudden change and that menopause suddenly comes, but it’s not the case. Perimenopause is the period of years prior to actually stopping menstruation. So that’s officially menopause. And during perimenopause, your hormones can fluctuate. Your oestrogen can fluctuate incredibly, to be really quite low and at other times really high. And so that has an effect on your sleep, as well as your mood and those hot flushes and all those symptoms, depression, anxiety. Because oestrogen has an effect on the brain. A lot of people don’t realise that. So yeah, again, that’s something that a practitioner like a naturopath or herbal medicine practitioner like myself can help with. Because your bedroom might be as dark as the darkest night and you might have your temperature at 18 degrees, so all that’s right. But because of what’s happening hormonally in your body, you just can’t get quality deep sleep.

Hannah:
Yeah. And how can listeners get in contact with you if they’d like to hear some more about this?

Laura Cini :
Yeah. So listeners can connect with me on my Instagram and Facebook pages. And that’s @Laura, which is L-A-U-R-A and then C-I-N-I wellness. And then I’ve got a website. I post a lot of free content information on my social media sites and in my websites, lauraciniwellness.com. I do that once a month. I have a radio chat on Local ABC Radio on the Mel Bush Evenings programme. We talked about intermittent fasting recently, talked about sleep before that. So that generally comes up about once a month and you can find out about that on my Facebook or Instagram page. So yeah, connect with me and that would be great.

Hannah:
 So thanks so much again, Laura, for your time and energy and expertise. It’s been fantastic.

Laura Cini :
My pleasure, Hannah. Thank you

Hannah:
And Burn listeners, until next time. Have a wonderful rest of you week.

 

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