I caught up with Hollie Azzopardi the other day and wanted to ask her a bit about sleep.
I’ve been following her blog and Instagram feed for some time now, in fact, ever since meeting her at Melissa Ambrosini Goddess Group in Sydney late last year. Her posts show a deep understanding and passion about sleep… with quotes like “it matters just as much as exercise and nutrition and it’s time we wake up to the facts and realise this.”
I couldn’t agree more… and with sleep taking up on average a third of our lives, clearly it freaking matters all right! We all know when we need it… haven’t had it… and how it affects how we function right? – or do we?
So, I asked Hollie to let me in on her sleep patterns and how much is it part of her #a-game?
Would you agree that there is no real “normal” for the amount of sleep we need… We all hear that the average adult needs 7-8 hours but… we all know that it can range between 6-9 hours, right? – so what’s your optimum amount?
Totally! From all the research I’ve done over the last couple of years on sleep, it always comes back to needing somewhere between 7-9 hours of uninterrupted, quality sleep for adults – more for children and adolescents – but the average 7-9 does seem to be the sweet spot. For me personally, I like my solid 9 hours and I can really feel when I haven’t had it… With my history of burn out, anxiety and fatigue, my body just knows it NEEDS it. Even if I get 7 hours, I really feel it in the morning… but it does differ for everyone.
I’m an 8 hour girl! and waking alert is a sure sign I’ve had a “good night” … but what are the signs you’ve had a “good night”? – and I’m not talking about waking up with a hangover and an empty pizza box here!
I love this… So, ideally when you are waking up after a good night’s sleep, you feel GOOD! This doesn’t have to mean jumping out of bed full of energetic enthusiasm (although that is the dream), just that it doesn’t feel like a chore. You should feel alert and awake and dare I say it… not feel like you need that coffee first thing to really wake up. Plus, you should just feel genuinely GOOD – health, energy and mood wise.
Okay, I’m hearing you on that one, but sometimes, for whatever reason we just can’t sleep, how do you manage when you’ve gone without sleep?
Honestly… because it is such a priority for me, I no longer find I can go without sleep. Sure, there was a period in my life where I wasn’t sleeping well at all (in the middle of my fatigue) but my sleep pattern was the first thing I knew I needed to fix, to try and reclaim my energy. I know myself well enough that if I’m running on anything less than 7 hours, I get tired, grumpy and feel groggy… just running on adrenaline, with my cortisol all over the place. I get stressed, agitated and just know I’ll probably have a panic attack that day… Gosh! I could go on and on.
I find that sleeps a priority too! … so sometimes after a bad night, wanting to catch up on sleep I try to take a “power nap” but for some reason… I just can’t sleep, it’s like there’s a biological clock that kicks in, preventing it, have you found this too?
Oh my gosh yes! naps are seriously underrated! Sometimes even after my solid 9 hours, I need a power nap in the afternoon. The trick to napping is to either go for a short, 20 minute kip (because it is only Stage 1 of the sleep cycle so you won’t feel groggy but you will have enough of a sleep fix to feel recharged) OR if you have more time, go for 90 minutes (this gives you the FULL sleep cycle). I find that anywhere in between leaves you feeling groggy as you are waking yourself up mid-cycle. Learning this changed my life! 20 minute naps are the BEST!
As well as the 20 mins naps, do you think meditation can help? some people claim it improves their energy levels, reducing the need for sleep, using it as an alternative? Do you find that to be the case?
I recommend it to all my clients who are new mums… after all, it’s highly unlikely that you are going to get your full 9 hours uninterrupted with a newborn! 20 minutes of transcendental meditation (TM) is the equivalent of a 4 hour nap so, there are absolutely alternatives, and meditation is a good one. Another is simply lying down, with your feet up the wall and your eyes closed… This relaxes your nervous system, gives your body a rest and even if you don’t fall asleep, you are still recharging.
As this is just a girly chat and we’re all friends here, I’m allowed to ask about other positions right?! … apart from your legs up against the wall, what’s your favourite sleeping position … and what’s your bedroom like?
Hahaha! My partner doesn’t understand how I sleep the way I do! I am a side-sleeper, on my right side with my legs bunched up in the foetal position and my arm under my (3) pillows. I don’t know why it works for me but it does!
I recently had a declutter coach come in and clean out my room with me and the bedroom is such a sanctuary now, I love it! You’ll find new linen sheets on our bed (we bought them last weekend, exciting times), salt lamps on both bedside tables, my essential oils diffuser and a heap of crystals everywhere!
Wow that sounds idyllic, I’ve a sleepover invite in the post, right?! So, what do you think defines a “bad” sleep routine? … is there really such a thing? I mean, some people say they sleep in two 4 hour sections and that they do their best, most creative work in the dead of night… that sounds a bonus, right?!
I would only say someone’s sleeping routine is ‘bad’ if it is effecting their health. So if someone is feeling tired or run down and find that they’re drinking more than 2 coffees to make it through the day… or if they’re experiencing any level of mental illness (anxiety or depression), maybe they’re overweight or just generally unhealthy – then I would definitely look at their sleep routine and quality.
People don’t actually realise we can get our sleep tested, just like a blood test, from our GP. And it’s bulk-billed. It frustrates me that sleep isn’t taken seriously enough in the health world – lack of sleep is a BIG contributor to mental illness, cardiac issues and other health challenges that we don’t even link to sleep.
So a bad sleep routine would be any person who is struggling with sleep and it is effecting their health. Solid, uninterrupted 7-9 hours, and falling asleep within 15 minutes of getting into bed is the end goal.
Tough one now… calling on all your knowledge… what do you think the best ways are for us to get a good night’s sleep? And what’s the one thing you think we should all try and do that would improve our #a-game?
Ohhh I love this! Honestly, I could write a book on this (in fact I just might) so my main tip is to find and get into a nightly routine, that reminds your body it is time for sleep.
Ideally the routine will induce melatonin in your body – that is the sleep hormone. To do this, you want to be in dim lighting about an hour before bed as it tells your body the sun is going down which means it is time for sleep. Get out those candles and salt lamps and switch off all back-lit devices (no Netflix or scrolling in bed guys!)
Your routine could also include essential oils (lavender on your pillowcase works a treat), a hot shower or bath before bed (the drop in body temp when you get out will cause your body to rest) and practicing deep breathing as you lie in bed winding down. Even keeping a journal beside your bed if you can’t ‘switch off’ your thoughts. Play around and find a routine that works for you – remember to keep it simple, enjoyable and mainly focus on what will truly relax your body.
And on that – the one thing we should all do to improve our a-game is TAKE SLEEP SERIOUSLY. As serious as nutrition and exercise. IT MATTERS.
As it matters so much, totally with you on the one Hollie … the final question … just how big a part does sleep play in your #a-game?
It is everything. My sleep patterns tell me when I am running on cortisol and adrenaline compared to when I am really looking after myself and feeling rested. Sleep is a gift I give myself to recharge and unwind after big days. I do not operate at my best without sleep – none of us do!
So I can’t possibly be on my #a-game without it! We don’t hesitate to recharge our phones or fill our cars up with petrol, yet we don’t take sleep seriously. I am so unashamed to be obsessed with sleep – it is VITAL for us all to be at our #a-game.
It’s clear to see how seriously Hollie takes her sleep and rates it in her #a-game, non? So, tell me about your sleep, how would you rate it right now?! Is it a beast or are you a sleeping beauty?!
love and wellness …