In this series, we interview experts on the subject of sleep. We explore different methods of improving our sleep in order to improve our overall health and well being. At the end of the day, who wouldn't want to enjoy better sleep?
Alison Canavan is a UCLA-trained Mindfulness Facilitator from The Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behaviour, and a Master NLP Practitioner. She runs a successful private practice as a Health and Wellness coach and delivers motivational talks on health and wellbeing, all over the world, specialising in mental health and addiction. Alison was a successful international model for nearly two decades and in recent years has devoted her time to her greatest passion: the achievement of true health and wellbeing for herself and others. At the core of her work with individuals, schools, charities and corporates is her belief in the power of human potential.
How would you describe your relationship with sleep?
I love sleep and these days I make sure to put sleep at the top of my wellbeing plan. Sleep is the foundation upon which a healthy life is built. If you don’t sleep well everything suffers including your mood, ability to regulate your emotions, control cravings and much more. They used to use sleep deprivation as a form of torture during the war!
Sleep has been completely neglected in the wellbeing revolution and even pushed aside in an effort to be more, do more and get more done. This has been a huge mistake because sleep is when the magic happens. It’s when our brain files all our memories and the day shift workers clock off in our body giving our body a chance to renew and repair.
You often hear people saying silly quotes like "I’ll sleep when I die" but surely you want to have a great quality of life when you’re alive?? You can’t be at your best without adequate sleep and I know this because I partied for years leading to all sorts of health issues, depression, anxiety and addictions.
Getting a good sleep is a blessing and now that James is a bit older (8) he sleeps more which means I can too.
Why and how is sleep important for mental health and overall wellbeing?
Our mental health is determined by so many factors and being well rested is the most important ingredient. Think of yourself like a cake and if you leave out the raising agent you will be flat. That raising agent is sleep. Studies show us that we can’t regulate emotions, control cravings and be happy and content without adequate sleep.
When we don’t sleep we reach for bad sugary instant gratification food. We’ll miss workouts and generally try and take shortcuts as you are simply too tired. Lot of us also don’t even realize that we are sleep deprived and try and fix ourselves with food and early workouts. We have crazy schedules and sleep sometimes seems like a luxury if we are to get everything done. The real luxury lies in sleeping so that your body, mind and spirit can rest and help you to live your best life.
Do you have a bedtime routine?
Yes I put the phone away an hour before bed. I drink a bedtime tea like chamomile. I practice gratitude and have no phone in the bedroom. I always says a prayer and take a few moments in meditation. Our lives are so busy, so it’s nice to check in and see how you are. We are so disconnected these days and the world simply doesn’t support us working on ourselves so we must carve out time to do this. If you don’t think you have time or you don’t think it’s worth it. Simply ask yourself; Am I stressed, feeling overwhelmed? Or do I scroll endlessly through social media. There is always time for what we perceive to be important.
What are your golden rules for encouraging better sleep? Any products or resources that you would recommend?
No phone in the bedroom. If it’s your alarm, them buy a cheap alarm for a few euro. You are asleep so there is literally no need to have a phone beside you.
Having a nice soak in the bath helps you set you up for a good night’s rest using Epsom salts and some lavender essential oil.
Practicing gratitude before you go to bed is fantastic because it helps you to shift your focus and attention away from stress and what’s troubling you. When we focus on what we have we literally change the structure of our brain and in this case, practice makes perfect.
The Full 360 Event:
Don't miss out on Alison's "The Full 360 event " at The Radisson Blu, Golden Lane, Dublin Sunday February 17th.
The Full 360 event helps attendees make small changes that will give them the confidence to follow their dreams and to believe in themselves. Small changes make a big difference!
The Full 360 Series event takes place from 10.30am-6pm. A delicious, healthy lunch will be served, each guest will receive a fantastic goody bag as well as a 44 page workbook of information on The Full 360 Series with thought-provoking content, useful advice and techniques which Alison will work through during the day. With discos, juicing demos, restorative yoga and meditation sessions, and lots more, booking a spot at this event is a must for those seeking to both look and feel better.