Sleep Diaries - Shea Talks Q&A

The Goodnight Show brings you 'The Sleep Diaries', a segment to kick off each season and answer all your sleep questions! Shea will answer 10 questions submitted by our Sleepyheads in The Goodnight Community Group and via The Goodnight Co's Instagram, to keep you in the know and assist you on your journey to a better night's sleep.


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Welcome to The Goodnight Show. I'm Shea Morrison, sleep expert and co-founder of The Goodnight Co. Join me each week for hints and tips on all things sleep.

Hello and welcome back to the Goodnight Show. To introduce season seven. We're answering all your sleep questions in a segment we like to call 'The Sleep Diaries'. Send us your questions via the Goodnight Co Community Group or Instagram to be featured next time. Let's get into it.

Sherry Skelton messaged us with her question on Instagram. I can't get back to sleep when I wake up in the night. What are some sleep tips to fall back to sleep?

Sure, it's a great question, and it's one of the questions we get asked a lot. It falls into the problem areas of sleep, which we define as having trouble getting to sleep, waking up, not being able to get back to sleep, and waking up and just not feeling refreshed. But when you're somebody who wakes in the middle of the night and finds it hard to get back to sleep, often it can be related to stress, some stress and anxiety feelings. It might be some dietary or bodily things that are happening, that you need to try and identify if it is any of these things. It does get a little bit stressful when we're really trying to get back to sleep, but we can't. So at this point, it's all about trying to calm that mind, that racing mind. So there are some great techniques that we can take on board. There's a beautiful yoga Pilates pose called Legs Up the Wall, which is on our journal. If you head on over to The Goodnight Co. Website to the journal and search for legs up the wall, it will give you a diagram of how to get into this pose. This is a scientific study which really helps calm the nervous system and allows you to kick back into that calm state of mind that you need. Another thing to consider is not looking at the clock. So trying not to look at the clock and getting making yourself more anxious about not being able to go to sleep. Not only is it increasing a stress level that you're feeling, but also it's probably interfering with a bit of that light exposure that you're putting your body into. So you're potentially looking at a blue light, whether that be on your phone or an alarm clock or computer, or what that might be. So what we do suggest doing is if you've been lying there for 10/20/30/40 minutes, is to get up out of bed, go and do something in minimal light. So don't go and turn the lights on. So keep as soft light as possible. Maybe look at reading, um, so reading a real book with a little book lamp or sitting and doing some sitting up and doing some breathing exercises. The box breathing technique is another great stress relieving technique to look at. If you just Google box breathing, you'll find some information on it and trying that for around 20 minutes, because when we sleep, we go through cycles of sleep stages and these cycles throughout the night. So it's almost like we're trying to get the next sleepy stage, um, during this cycle. So doing this for around 20 minutes and then going back to bed when you are feeling a bit bit drowsy again, um, is a great place to start and then really looking at your routine. So are you sticking to that regular wake sleep schedule so that your body is in that preparation stage before you go to bed? So, Sherry, thanks so much for that message. It is something that a lot of people struggle with. You are not alone. I hope that that gives you some good tips and advice and let us know how you go. 


Question: Shea, what is your sleep routine and what negatively impacts your sleep the most? 

It's a great question about what my sleep routine is.

I obviously have a sleep routine and something that I really try to stick to, and I'm really, really conscious about what negatively impacts my sleep. I know that stress definitely plays a part for me. It's very rare that I don't feel tired enough to fall asleep. But if I'm feeling really stressed, I get heart palpitations and, um, sort of like, I guess, a little mini panic attack, almost where I have a lot of shallow breathing and I find it really hard to fall asleep. So if this does happen, it's very rare. I do set myself up in bed and do a box breathing technique, so I find that that really helps to stop the shallow breathing. Stop those heart palpitations, um, and allows me to really calm, calm down, to be able to fall asleep. I also know, because I track my sleep with an aura ring. I'm acutely attuned to what's happening at night time in my sleep patterns, and I know that if I have too much alcohol or too close to bedtime, I find it really hard to get deep sleep. So we really need deep sleep in our sleep cycle stages through the night at least an hour, two hours, depending on who you are. And that's where we get that beautiful, restorative cleansing sleep. So it repairs all of our organs and our functionalities. It's washing all the toxins out of our brain and through our body, helping everything functioned properly and really helping to prevent onset diseases. So things like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's. So for me, I I know that I feel horrible in the morning when I wake up and I don't have that deep sleep. So there's some things that I know negatively impact my sleeve and probably impact a lot of other people's. 

And if this is you just trying to find some ways, you know, I'm not saying don't drink alcohol, but limiting the amount that you're drinking having some days during the week where you're not drinking alcohol and maybe, stop drinking alcohol too close to bed so your body's got time to digest. Thanks very much for your question.


Question: My partner snores loudly, and it constantly wakes me up. Do you have any tips to sleep better through this?

Rosie, I am completely in your boat. I have a partner who is a snorer from time to time and definitely wakes me up. He's also very restless Sleeper, and it is difficult. It's a tough one, apart from making an extreme decision, which would be to move into another bed or another bedroom, which I'm not suggesting straight away. But people do do it because it's really important that we get sleep, our really good sleep that we need for us. So there's some things that you can look at doing, so encouraging that your partner sleeps on their side. This doesn't always work for everybody, but it definitely makes a difference. Maybe they need to get dare I say, a sleep assessment from their doctor just to check that they don't have sleep apnea because if they do have sleep apnea, then that can be, you know, another pretty full on process to look into. But they might want to go and check that out. You could try a white noise machine on an app. Or just you can buy a little white noise machines. Um, you might try earplugs. You possibly already done that. And as I said, the extreme is sleeping separately. I hope that that helps a little bit. I would be suggesting potentially to try to send them off to a doctor to get a sleep apnea test done.


Question: The next one is from Christine Watson. Why am I sleeping less as I get older. I'm in my early seventies and I feel like I'm not sleeping as much as I used to, but give very tired throughout the day.

So, Christine, as we age, we we actually don't need as much sleep. Um, and it is harder as we get older, so it's a bit of a Catch 22 because we're not sleeping as much during the night and and may not need to as much. But we do feel tired during the day, so if you're somebody who likes a nap, then do it. A lot of people say, 'Oh, napping interferes with sleep and it's not good for you'. I don't necessarily agree. I think that if you benefit from a nap, then definitely do it. Try, though not napping for too long and not too close to sleep. So you probably want to be doing this during the middle of the day. It's like the the siesta that lots of countries adopt into their routines. So no more than one hour day. Ideally, you probably, looking at the way that we cycle through stages of sleep, 20 to 30 minutes is beneficial. But if you need a bit longer and you feel okay, then you can. The deep and REM sleep decreases as we age, which is due to the lower levels of growth hormone. We produce less melatonin, so we sleep more lightly, so we wake up more often as well, and insomnia worsens with age, particularly menopausal women, so it can start in up to 15% of menopausal women. So that could be playing a part - certainly not in your seventies, but it may have started in your menopausal stage. Also looking at trying to go to sleep earlier and waking up earlier. So really sticking to those wake sleep cycles is important. And consider your sleep environment. So you know, it's just as important as we get older to make sure that we've got that really good routine to encourage as much sleep as we can. 

So looking at creating a routine that you can do in the wind down stage, and send those signals to brain that this is bedtime and time to sleep. So I hope that helps Christine, thanks so much for your question.


Question: Heard you talk a little bit about sleep hygiene. I was just wondering what that is?

Sleep hygiene. Great question. So sleep hygiene is a set of recommended habits and behaviours designed to promote quality sleep, so things like exercising regularly keep trying to keep our stress levels low. Following a regular sleep schedule. So sleep, wake schedule. Avoiding or limiting caffeine, Nicotine or alcohol. Napping. Making your bedroom your sleep sanctuary. So these are all hygienic things that you can look at incorporating into your routine. So really, it helps you to create that routine.


Question: How much time should it be taking me to fall asleep?

So this is called latency. Um, you know, I love wearing my Oura ring, which tracks my my sleep and latency. So how long it takes to fall asleep is one of the key indicators to determine how well you're sleeping. So in an ideal world, 10 to 20 minutes is a good time. So people who say I'm a brilliant sleep in my head hits the pillow when I fall asleep. That actually can sometimes mean that you are over exhausted, that you are not getting enough sleep and that you're really, really tired so that that person to me indicates that's me sometimes. Um and I know I know it well. And so having that 10 to 20 minutes means that you're going to bed at a good time, it's taking you enough time to drift off and you are drifting off. So that's really an optimal time period.


Question: Hey, I was just wondering how I can get on a regular sleep schedule. I have a lot of different commitments during the week, which makes it hard to always get up or go to sleep at the same time.

Lauren, a regular sleep schedule, is quite easy to look at. Look at starting. Really, What we're looking at doing is just setting that routine wake time and that sleep time so kind of working backwards from how many hours sleep feels best for you somewhere between that seven and nine hours and then what time you need to wake up and you need to stick to this same routine seven days a week. So a lot of people say, 'Oh, it's great, I do that five days a week and then I sleep in on the weekend'. And while sleeping in sometimes can be great, it's probably messing with how you're feeling. So if you can stick to this seven days a week, that that's ideal. Getting morning sunlight to really help set your circadian rhythm. So when you do wake up getting up, flicking open the curtains or the blinds, stepping outside into that sunlight and just absorbing. Taking two deep breaths and getting that sunlight because that sunlight is going to help set your circadian rhythm, which is your internal body clock. Your internal body clock is what governs the bodily functions that happens to us throughout the day. And what we want to do in the morning is to decrease melatonin to get us awake. Um, so that then when it comes to nighttime, we're increasing melatonin to make us feel sleepy. We also want to look at at at nighttime, so turning off a lot of the lights, minimising as much screen time at least 30 minutes before we go to bed, ideally two hours. But I know that's really difficult for people to help with that melatonin production, help us feel sleepy at night. A great question, Lauren. Thank you.


Question: Is it worth tracking my sleep?

Tracking sleep, I think, is fantastic. If you are somebody who has decided that you really want to work out how to get good sleep, then look at either the optimal devices and ora ring. Um, if that's too unobtainable, then an apple watch or a Fitbit. There are lots of different wearable devices and on the market now that can help track your sleep. And I'm not suggesting that you become obsessed by and do it every day. But do it for a period of time to establish some data that allows you to understand what's happening to you so that you can then use it just to check in every month or every now and again to see if you're still on track to make sure that you're getting the deep sleep and, um, cycling through those stages of sleep. It can be a great way to really help put you in a great spot for getting a better night's sleep. Yeah, yeah, yeah.


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