Allied Press Magazine Logo
03 magazine logo

Catching enough Zs

15 September 2021

One night without sleep is manageable, but over time the accumulation of sleep debt can impact the quality of your life. Lack of sleep can also increase the risk of serious conditions, including chronic pain. Sleep is restorative and enables your body to re-energise – no other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort.

high angle view vie of woman sleeping on bed

The price of sleep debt

Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and it’s estimated that over 30 per cent of New Zealanders and Australians get less than this. A study across four large US companies found that insufficient sleep costs almost US$2000 in lost productivity per employee each year. That amount rose to over US$3500 in those suffering a serious lack of sleep.


  • Immune system
  • Heart health
  • Hunger signals and weight
  • Memory and reaction
  • Fatigue and stamina
  • Productivity and creativity
  • Mental wellbeing and mood
  • Appearance
  • Focus

Calm the nerves

To be able to fall sleep, your nervous system has to calm down. This is easier said than done in today’s fast-paced, ‘always-on’ world, where your nervous system is constantly thrown into overdrive. If you have chronic pain, you already have a more active nervous system. Here’s some ways you can support your nervous system before the lights go out.


Breathing properly can support the transition from your sympathetic nervous system (‘fight or flight’ response) to your parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for rest, digestion, hormonal balance and relaxation. A growing number of studies show that breathing techniques are effective against anxiety and insomnia.

Alternate nostril breathing is thought to allow both sides of your brain to function optimally, which in turn calms the mind. Use your thumb and fourth finger to do this:

  1. Inhale through the left nostril, while closing the right with your thumb. Hold the breath, covering both nostrils. Release your right nostril and exhale completely, slowly.
  2. Inhale through your right nostril, while closing the left with your fourth finger. Hold the breath while covering both nostrils, and then release your left nostril and exhale.

This counts as one round: try to do 6–8 rounds each day and see if you notice any improvement.

young sporty woman in nadi shodhana pranayama pose

75% of our Style Instagram followers said they meditate before bed.

Minerals and herbs

At a dose of 500mg/day, this supportive mineral has been shown to significantly decrease serum cortisol levels within hours of sleep initiation, resulting in an increased slow-wave sleep (a deeper sleep).

71% of you like the idea of taking magnesium supplements and herbal teas (Style Instagram snap poll).

ASHWAGANDHA (Withania somnifera)
Native to India and North Africa, ashwagandha may soothe stress, alleviate anxiety and be particularly helpful for combating insomnia and improving sleep quality.

PASSIONFLOWER (Passiflora quadrangularis)
This has been found to modulate the GABA system, which supports wellbeing. Passionflower can be found in Red Seal Relaxing tea. To start winding down, a cup after dinner each night can be a beneficial ritual to support sleep.

JAMAICAN DOGWOOD (Piscidia piscipula)
Native to Southern Florida and the West Indies, this tree’s bark is known for its therapeutic properties. It’s traditionally been used to aid sleep and manage anxiety, nerve pain, migraine and menstrual cramps.

woman watching tv in a tablet on the bed in the night

Rest easy

Feel and operate better by adjusting your sleep routine. If you get stuck, these tips might help you fall asleep.

  • Avoid alcohol on weeknights – save it for celebrations.
  • Dim the lights after dinner – bright lights signal to the brain that the sun is still up.
  • Read something light (not work-related).
  • Listen to a sleep meditation or podcast.
  • Diffuse lavender essential oil.
  • Use a heat pack to soothe any aches or pains that may be keeping you awake.
  • Write down any thoughts or worries to get them out of your head.
  • Be inspired by the 94% of our Style followers who practise gratitude at the end of the day.
  • Go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired again.
  • Make sure your room is an optimal temperature (16–18 degrees) and free of clutter, dust and mould.
  • Relax with a bedtime ritual, such as a shower or bath.

Switch off screens at least one hour before your bedtime. 75% of folks don’t do this, according to our survey.

What do we listen to when sleep’s eluding us (or press play on when our kids are too wired)? White noise tracks are popular, including aircraft cabin sounds (yes, really!), although 82% of our Insta pollsters said “no way” to this humdinger. They preferred watery sounds – think waves crashing or rain falling (70%).
Share your thoughts at @StyleChristchurch

aerial vision, drone capture of the north shore oahu, hawaii.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram