Sleep is a normal body process that allows the body and brain to rest. Even though we spend about one-third of our life sleeping, many people struggle to achieve a good quality sleep on a regular basis. Although we may ‘switch off’ while we are asleep, our body continues to carry out many functions, while in this rested state.

Why do we sleep?

Some key processes are at work while we sleep:

  • Energy conservation and storage. During the day, cells throughout the body use stockpiled resources to keep doing their jobs. While we sleep, our bodies use less energy. That allows the cells to resupply and stock upfor the next day
  • Self-repair and recovery. At night our bodies can heal and repair while
    we sleep. This is why, when we are sick, we may feel tired and need
    more rest.
  • Brain maintenance. While we sleep, our brains reorganise and catalogue memories and learned information, making it easier to access and learn information more efficiently.
  • Detoxification. During the day our bodies build up toxins, coming from our food, metabolism, the environment, stress and changes in mood. As we sleep soundly, the accumulated toxins in our brain are flushed out. If a person has disrupted sleep, they are less likely to clear toxins, so they
    accumulate instead.


With our modern lifestyles we are switched on all day from constant blue light emissions, busy schedules & stress and often this continues at night. Many people cannot switch off or calm down enough to sleep well, as they are overstimulated.

Sleep Cycle Hormones and our circadian rhythm


This is our ‘get up and go’ hormone, which wakes us up.

  • It increases in the morning around sunrise and reaches its maximum in the early afternoon
  • Sunlight exposure enhances its production
  • Cortisol helps regulate our metabolism
  • It supports our formation of memories and learning
  • Too much cortisol can tax the adrenals, cause weight gain and fatigue
  • Too little cortisol can cause fatigue, memory issues and trouble concentrating


This is our sleep hormone.

  • It reaches its peak at around 10pm-12am each night.
  • Light exposure suppresses its production.
  • It is a powerful, anti-ageing and immune-boosting hormone.
  • We produce around 400 times more melatonin in the gut, than in the brain.
    If the gut is unwell, melatonin production is impacted.
  • Too much melatonin can negatively affect sleep.


Our circadian rhythm is influenced by light. There is an internal ‘ecosystem’ at work within our body. It is closely connected with our environment (specifically
day & night) to help make hormones needed to assist us to fall asleep and stay asleep at night or to wake us and help stay motivated & energised through the
day. When our sleep is disrupted or of poor quality, our circadian rhythm is dysregulated and our health suffers.

Common sleep disorders

  • Narcolepsy: overwhelming daytime drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Jet lag or shift work sleep disorder
  • Parasomnia: abnormal and unnatural movements, behaviors, emotions, perceptions and dreams that occur while falling asleep, during sleep, between sleep stages, or upon waking.

Take our Magnesium Deficiency Questionnaire to check your magnesium levels, a very common deficiency here in Australia, which affects sleep and can cause restless leg syndrome.

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What are the effects of lack of sleep?

Many things can affect how much or how well you sleep. Not sleeping enough
can cause the following short-term effects:

  • Slow reflexes
  • Trouble thinking or concentrating
  • Changes in mood, including feeling irritable, depressed or anxious
  • Headaches
  • Decreased immunity and getting sick more often
  • Metabolism problems and a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes
  • Feelings of fatigue and exhaustion.
    Longer-term effects may include:
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Dementia
  • Microsleeps – brief moments where your brain falls asleep only to snap back awake again. These can be especially dangerous if they happen while you’re driving, operating machinery or doing something that requires your full attention.
  • Hand tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Impulsive or reckless behaviour.

Common reasons why people don’t get enough sleep

  • Too much caffeine, alcohol and/or sleeping tablets: The caffeine in coffee and tea is a stimulant that prevents you sleeping well.
  • Alcohol may make you drowsy, but your sleep will be very restless.
  • Sleeping tablets used regularly may cause addiction and may stop working well.
  • Shift work: This makes it hard to maintain a regular sleep pattern which is more optimal for our health.
  • Eating and drinking late: Eating too close to bedtime can cause heartburn and discomfort in the chest. Avoid late meals. Try to limit your fluids before bedtime so that you can avoid going to the toilet during the night.
  • Failing to unwind before bed: Exercising, computer games and TV can disturb sleep if too close to bedtime.
  • Stress: Day to day living can be stressful and this can interfere with sleep. Give yourself a chance to relax and unwind before going to bed.
  • Jet lag: Changing time zones can disturb the sleep pattern a lot. The internal body clock will readjust to the new time zone but it may take a few days.
  • Sleep disorders
  • Drug side effects
  • Pregnancy: Being pregnant can disturb your sleep especially in the final months. Leg cramps, discomfort in the chest and having to go to the toilet often all play a part in disrupting sleep.
  • Baby’s needs: A new baby in the house has feeding demands through the night until they don’t.

Take our Sleep Assessment Questionnaire to determine if you need some customised assistance to get your circadian rhythm back on track

Easy tips for a better night’s sleep

Schedule your sleep. When your sleep cycle has a regular rhythm, you will feel better. Plan for 7 to 8 hours a night. Aim to go to sleep and wake up at around the same time each day. As soon as you get up in the morning, go outside and face the sun for about 15-30 minutes. This allows the natural sunlight to reach the retina in your eyes, which stimulates part of the brain to switch on your melatonin production for the day. This regulates your circadian rhythm and is a vital part of the sleep cycle. Even if it is a cloudy, wet day in Winter, being outside in the natural light is the important step to take.

Reduce evening screen time. Night-time exposure to blue light from digital screens is stimulating and can interfere with your brain’s production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for making you feel sleepy. Turnoff electronic devices 1-2 hours (or more, if possible), prior to bedtime.

Develop a bedtime ritual. It is important to give your body cues that it is time to slow down and sleep. Your ritual may include stretches, breathing exercises, listening to relaxing music, a hot bath, or sipping on a cup of caffeine-free tea.

Do not stay in bed if you are awake. If you do not fall asleep within 30 minutes, get out of bed and perform a mundane activity until you feel sleepy enough to return to bed. Boredom is key; avoid activities that may stimulate you, such as watching TV, and avoid the use of bright lights, which suppress melatonin production.

Make sure your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable. Reduce light, noise and extremes of temperature. Install blackout curtains or blinds, or wear a sleep mask. If noise is an issue, wear earplugs or get a white noise machine. The ideal temperature for the bedroom, for a good night’s sleep is around 16C

Go to bed when you feel sleepy. This reduces the time you are awake while in bed. If you go to bed in an alert state, you may have difficulty getting to sleep. This can result in feelings of irritation and frustration about not falling asleep, and worry about how you will manage the next day when tired.

Don’t take naps during the day. This can reduce your sleepiness in the evening, resulting in poorer quality sleep during the night. If you just can’t make it through the day without a nap, sleep less than one hour and make sure you are awake again by 3pm. Your afternoon fatigue may be indicative of a health issue such as hormonal imbalance, which you may need to check on.

Avoid drinking alcohol or eating a meal too close to bedtime. Alcohol may have the effect of allowing you to fall asleep easily, but inevitably you will wake around 2-3am, when the liver starts trying to breakdown the alcohol, which stimulates wakefulness. A late meal, still requires digestion and this is best done while you are awake and moving around rather than trying to sleep