Guest Posts

Why You Need Sleep to Restore Your Body

Many of my clients and attendees at my retreats tell me they're so busy and stressed, they sleep around six hours per night; but that's OK right? Wrong. Evidence on the biochemical changes that occur during sleep is mounting, meaning sleep is more important than we ever realised!

I asked one of the experts to tell all of you about the importance of sleep - check it out!

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Sleep provides time to heal, recharge and restore the body, yet many people view rest as a luxury rather than a necessity. Many adults don't sleep the recommended seven hours each night. By making sleep a priority and developing good sleep hygiene, you can get the restorative sleep you need to be physically and mentally at your best.

Sleep Deprivation Puts a Stop to Your Healing Abilities

The body has amazing abilities to heal and restore itself but needs time in which to do it. A study published in Sleep Medicine measured the levels of proteins necessary for muscle recovery and correlated it to the subjects’ amount of sleep. Lack of sleep suppressed showed a slower healing process in all aspects of your biology.

The immune system also takes a serious hit during sleep deprivation.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University explored the effects of sleep deprivation on the immune system by examining susceptibility to the common cold. Sleep deprived people were more likely to catch a cold.

Those that slept less than seven hours were nearly three times as likely to get sick.

It wasn’t just how much time they slept but the quality of their sleep as well. Participants who frequently woke during the night were also more susceptible to illness. The immune system needs rest to not only fight off infection but to recharge itself for full daytime functionality.

what is the main reason you need sleep?

How to Get Better, More Restorative Sleep

The benefits of sleep come from spending enough hours in bed and from high-quality sleep. You can improve the restorative nature of your sleep by developing good sleep hygiene. Good sleep hygiene means that you:

  • Keep a Consistent Sleep-Wake Schedule 

Your body relies on regular 24-hour biological and physiological cycles called circadian rhythms to control your sleep-wake cycle. By keeping a consistent sleep-wake schedule, that means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, you acclimate your brain and body to your natural rhythms. Consequently, the brain will release sleep hormones automatically because it knows what time you need to fall asleep.

  • Develop a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Bedtime routines are particularly important for those who have a hard time falling asleep. A routine can trigger the release of sleep hormones and provide time to relieve any stress or tension before bed. It should include activities that calm and relax you. Try to perform your bedtime routine at the same time and in the same order each day.  

  • Turn Off Screens Early

The bright light from televisions and smartphones can suppress sleep hormones, making it hard to fall asleep. Try shutting them off at least two to three hours before bed to prevent a sleep delay.

  • Eat Healthy, Regularly Spaced Meals

A well-balanced diet helps improve all aspects of your life. However, it’s not just what you eat but when you eat it that affects your sleep-wake cycle. Try to eat at the same times each day and keep your meals regularly spaced. Avoid heavy high-fat foods close to bedtime.

Sleep gives your body the time it needs to restore and heal itself. When you make sleep a priority, you’re giving yourself a natural boost to your mental and physical health.

About this Guest author:

Samantha (Sam) Kent is a researcher for Her favourite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face.

4 Small Changes for a Happier, Healthier You

With so many wellness pros around the world, we chatted to one special woman, Pazit Barak, who helps people from around the world enhance their health and wellbeing at her retreats in Cambodia. Here are her top wellness tips.

Tips for a Healthy New Year with Pazit Barak

Long working hours, lunch on the go and minimal sleep has become a normal way of life in today’s western society. Balancing work, family and friends as well as finding time for ourselves seems almost impossible.  However, finding time for ourselves is vital, yet somehow we put it on the back burner behind looking after everyone else. As Eleanor Brownn once said “Self-care is not selfish, you cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

When we push ourselves to the limit on a daily basis we slowly become more and more drained. We start getting aching, lethargic, can develop skin problems, anxiety and even depression.

For most of us, a demanding lifestyle is unavoidable, but the good thing is that we don’t have to change our lives completely to improve it. If you can make the time, signing up for a yoga and meditation retreat is a great way to reset and re-balance. However, the following small changes take up little time, can be integrated into your daily life and are guaranteed to result in a happier, healthier and more positive you.

 1.     Regulate your sleeping pattern

health resort spa

In Chinese medicine and throughout the practice of yoga we are taught that our bodies are at one with the universe and flow to the same natural rhythm. It is believed that when we fall out of sync with the universe and become disconnected that our energy levels drop. With this in mind, it is recommended that to shine our brightest we should rise just before the sun and sleep when it sets or no later than 10pm.

In Ayruvedic medicine it is understood that before sunrise the hours are governed by air and space, making us feel lighter and providing us with support for the day. After sunrise the hours are run by water and earth making us feel heavier and less energised.

Eight hours of sleep in total works out perfectly. If you do not feel like this is possible in one go, take an hour and a half nap in the day if you can, no more and no less. This is a full sleep cycle and will leave you feeling rejuvenated.

2. Exercise for 5 minutes a day

You’re probably wondering how 5 minutes of exercise a day could possibly make a difference, but trust us, it does. Whether you, walk, skip, stretch or practice yoga they are all great. Just make sure you are consistent and you will see a shift in how you feel both mentally and physically.

By being active each day, even for such a short amount of time, you will improve your overall fitness including cardiovascular health, burn off stress resulting in an elevated mood and even increase brain power. Make sure to pay attention to your breath for a more powerful practice and a deeper connection between the body and mind.

3.) Practice self-love

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Every day we are mindful about how we treat others and try to always consider the outcome of our actions but, sadly, we do not tend to behave the same way when it comes to how we treat ourselves.

Today, in the West especially, we are constantly working towards the next achievement, living in competition with others and ourselves. Whether it’s a higher paid salary, a bigger house or a new car. The list goes on. We rarely, if ever, take the time to sit back and realise what we already have and how much we have already achieved.

Take a few minutes each day, at the same time if you can, to write down five amazing things about yourself. It can be anything from you inherent strengths to something wonderful you’ve achieved. Write it down, reflect on it and appreciate how great you are.

4.) Spend 20 minutes in nature

The setting of Aprivé Wellness'  January Retreat

The setting of Aprivé Wellness' January Retreat

It doesn’t have to be in the up a mountain or on a tropical beach, it can simply be your garden or the nearest park. We spend so much time in offices, houses, shops and transport we can forget how beautiful nature can be and how embracing it can benefit us.

Trees and plants are our best friends, our life source. Being amongst them cleanses our system as well as our soul. Venturing out barefoot can also help ground you as well as allow your body to absorb minerals from the earth. So get out there, connect with the universe and feel free!

We know this may not be easy to start with but give it a go for a few weeks and see how you feel. Fully embrace each change. Be consistent but if you do miss one, don’t be hard on yourself. You will still see change. You will still feel the difference. If you punish yourself you will only feel tension. Simply learn from it and change it for the next time.

By being mindful of your surroundings, taking time for yourself and being proud of who you are, you’ll feel lighter, happier and stronger. As Buddha once said “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”.

About the author - Pazit

The Temple Retreat

Pazit is a yoga and meditation practitioner and teacher as well as holistic healing therapist. She specializes in Reiki, Pranic healing and Reflexology. She is also a theatre coach and life coach at Vagabond Temple Yoga & Meditation Retreat in Cambodia.