It’s incredible to realise that we spend a third of our lives sleeping. We can all recognise that a good night sleep can feel incredible and rejuvenating whilst on nights we don’t get enough sleep can make us feel like zombies. However, did you know sleep affects more than just energy alone? Adequate sleep is one of the vital factors that women need to support their hormonal health and menstrual cycle. Sleep influences our emotional well-being, periods, daytime performance, immune health, cognitive function, appetite and neurotransmitter production.
Whilst we sleep, our body secretes certain hormones such as melatonin and growth hormone and suppresses other hormones such as thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and cortisol. Hence sleep deprivation has cascading effects on multiple bodily systems including our female reproductive system and menstrual cycle.
Sleep deprivation disrupts the normal secretion of sex hormones which in turn contributes to hormonal imbalance and negatively affects our menstrual cycle. Individuals who don’t get enough or good quality sleep are more likely to experience irregular periods, anovulation, absent periods (amenorrhea), premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, recurrent miscarriages and infertility. Women who work in shift work are more likely to experience irregular and more painful periods compared to women who do not work shift work.
Additionally, inadequate sleep (both short and long term) increases the levels of inflammation and stress hormones in our body which are major drivers to poor hormonal health and worsen symptoms of endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and mood disorders. Thus, it’s important to prioritise sleep to regulate our menstrual cycles, support our hormonal health, and to improve our overall quality of life.
Read on for our top 5 tips to improve your sleep.
1. Get moving
Regular physical activity has been associated with improved sleep quality, increased sleep time and decreased sleep latency (the time spent falling asleep). Cardiovascular exercise increases slow-wave sleep, which is the deep restorative sleep we need to wake up feeling refreshed.
Sleep can also help reduce cortisol (stress hormone) which often is a major contributor to disrupted sleep. If you’ve ever been so stressed that you’ve found yourselves awake at 3 am, you can blame cortisol for that.
I recommend choosing an exercise that you enjoy such as dancing, running, pilates or swimming and carve out ½-1 hour of your day to it. Choose activities that make you feel energised and happy as you’re more likely to stick to them. Remember, exercise should be something you do because you love your body and not as a punishment!
However, limit high intensity (HIIT) exercise in the evening as it can raise stress hormone levels which is too stimulating for sleep. Instead, choose a nice yoga flow in the evening and save the HIIT classes for the morning or early afternoon. Google “Yoga with Adriene” and thank me later.
Lastly, try drinking the Lunas Beets as a natural, caffeine-free pre-workout as beetroot has shown to improve blood and oxygen delivery to the muscles which in turn helps to improve overall exercise performance. My natural pre-workout drink is to blend Luna’s beets with apple and carrots. The natural sugars from the apple help fuel my muscles with energy and the carrots are high in antioxidant which protects the body from the oxidative stress.
2. Cut down on the caffeine
Regular caffeine consumption has been associated with reduced sleep duration and quality in addition to daytime sleepiness. Caffeine stimulates the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands to increase alertness and reduce our ability to fall asleep. Try consuming your last cup of coffee before noon as caffeine will stay in the system for 8 hours (meaning if you have your last cup of coffee at 3 pm, it’ll still be in your body at 11 pm!).
Luckily for you, we’ve provided you with many coffee alternatives from our Moonbox website. Swap out coffee for Luna’s Matcha (which has a fewer stimulating effect compared to coffee), turmeric latte (using Luna Gold), a refreshing vegetable juice (using Luna’s beets) or hot cacao (using Luna Lover). If you’re curious about how to make a hot drink using any of our products, I recommend purchasing a handheld milk frother. They heat your drinks, add a delicious frothiness and are relatively inexpensive to purchase.
3. Sleep hygiene/bedtime routine
A bedtime or sleep hygiene routine refers to the behaviours we engage in to promote a night of restful sleep. Engaging in relaxing activities before bed can help reduce cortisol and train the body to prepare to unwind for bed and release hormones that are important for sleep. Some ideas to implement into your bedtime routine are to take a warm bath (or shower) and indulge in a night-time skincare routine.
Baths are often a relaxing activity and once you get out of the tub the rise and fall in body temperature helps to facilitate sleep. Use our Moon Soak in your evening bath as this contains relaxing ingredients such as magnesium and lavender to help you unwind. Add in a great fiction book and you’ll be struggling to not fall asleep in the tub!
A nightly skincare routine is a great way to take care of your beautiful skin and engage in self-care. Use our Moon Dew, Moon Clay, Moon Mist & Moon Shine to indulge in some pampering in the evening. I like to start my night-time skincare by first applying the Moon Clay like a mask, tone with Moon Mist, apply the facial oil Moon Dew and finish by applying Moon Shine on my blemishes. My skin feels like a baby’s bottom afterwards and I always wake up looking and feeling incredibly fresh.
4. Turn off the lights (yes this includes your phone too!)
Our eyes have photoreceptors that are responsive to light and will produce ‘awake’ (cortisol) hormones. Also, electronics emit blue light which further suppresses melatonin production (the hormone responsible for sleep). Hence, that night-time Instagram scroll is sending messages to our brain that it’s morning and prevents us from having a good night sleep.
Epidemiology studies have observed a positive association between the incidence of shift work and breast cancer. Researchers believe exposure to artificial light in the evening suppresses melatonin. When our melatonin levels are suppressed, this increases estrogen levels hence contributing to hormonal imbalance and increased risk for hormone-related diseases.
Turn off electronics 2 hours before bedtime and engage in technology-free activities such as reading a great fiction book, meditating, doing some light yoga or stretching, journaling, cuddling or colouring in. It’s tempting to scroll on Instagram right before bed but once you notice how refreshed you feel upon rising- you’ll never go back! If you struggle to put the phone down, try using the ‘night mode’ orange light on your electronics and lower your brightness to reduce blue light exposure.
I also recommend covering windows using your blinds/curtains or consider investing in some if you don’t have them to make your room dark and conducive to sleep. However, my favourite way to block our light exposure is by popping on our Moon Mask at night. Wearing the mask helps to block out pesky light from the moon, streetlights or phone charger. Our luxe Moon Mask is made from 100% mulberry silk so it feels like heaven on your eyes.
5. Increase magnesium intake
Magnesium has shown to improve sleep through its anti-anxiety and calming effects on the body. This nutrient regulates neurotransmitters (or ‘brain chemicals’) and activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) which is the rest and digest system. Activation of our PNS allows our heart rate to slow and promotes feelings of relaxation and calmness. Hence by ‘quietening’ down our nervous system, magnesium is an incredible nutrient for sleep.
When we don’t get enough magnesium in our diet, we can experience symptoms of magnesium deficiency such as anxiety, constipation, painful periods, low ability to cope with stress and sleep disorders. Supplementation with magnesium increases serum melatonin (the hormone that induces sleep) & reduces serum cortisol (the hormone that induces wakefulness).
I recommend using our Moon Boost spray at night - just 3 sprays onto the soles of your feet! When magnesium is taken transdermally (through the skin), its highly absorbable and bypasses the digestive system. Individuals who have sensitive guts will benefit from using the Moon Boost spray as some magnesium supplementations can have a laxative effect.
We all need sleep, and by setting ourselves up for a good night’s sleep starts from the minute we wake up.
These tips are to educate and inspire you to take care of your sleep so you can present as your most energetic and happiest self!
Author & Clinical Nutritionist Judy Cho,