Our latest episode of the Unprocessed podcast featured one of Australia’s most renowned sleep experts, Olivia Arezzolo – she revealed a number of useful tips and tricks to getting some shuteye in our increasingly switched-on world. Here’s what you need to know.
Olivia Arezzolo is passionate about helping people transform the way they sleep, with her primary mission being to boost her clients’ mental and physical health as a result. From her online sleep school to her coaching, speaking, writing and media commitments, the sleep expert is keen to share the solutions to a problem faced by so many of us – poor sleep. It all started with her own experience with mental health, dating back to her teen years.
“It really began when I was about 17 and I was struggling with anorexia and depression and anxiety,” Olivia said on Unprocessed. “In order to overcome that I really had to surrender to support and allow myself to heal otherwise I was going to stay very, very unwell for the rest of my life.
“Eventually I stopped resisting support and I was able to transform my life and feel happy, feel free again.”
It was after turning her life around that the sleep expert decided she wanted to share that wisdom and support with others.
“After that experience I knew that I wanted to help others through that as well, moving them from the darkness into the light and helping them when they felt helpless,” Olivia revealed. “For me, sleep wasn’t such a problem, but I saw that it was such a problem for everyone and my combination of degrees easily lent themselves to seeing significant results in a short period of time.”
While, by this point, Olivia had become experienced in the wellness industry, she started to release there was a gap in the market for sleep support.
“I though, who’s a sleep expert that I’d go to in the media?”, Olivia said. “Well, there’s no one.”
And so began Olivia’s journey into the world of sleep. With her certifications in sleep psychology and nutrition, the expert has gathered more than a few life-changing tricks to getting a good night’s sleep.
Reign in your screen habits
“Anyone who says to me, ‘I have a sleep problem’, I say to them, ‘okay, are you on a phone or TV in the last 2 hours before bed?’”, Olivia said on Unprocessed. “9 times out of 10 they’ll say yes.”
Is it really that bad? Olivia says yes, it absolutely is. Along with sleep timing, diet and exercise, light exposure is one of the pinnacles of sleep hygiene. The sleep expert revealed just how damaging our blue light
“If you don’t block it out, you severely limit your melatonin production in the evening, so you don’t feel tired. As a consequence to that you produce it later in the evening and the morning, which means you wake up feeling really groggy.”
But Olivia says it’s not just your phone you have to watch out for – your computer, TV and even ceiling lights could be interrupting your sleep.
Our sleep needs are not a one size fits all
Olivia revealed that understanding our own sleep chronotype could be the key to figuring exactly how much sleep we need – you’ve probably heard all the differing pieces of advice, with some saying 7 hours is ideal and others saying it’s inadequate. Many of us end up confused and, well, tired!
That’s where your chronotype comes in.
“Essentially, what a sleep chronotype is, is a grouping for your circadian rhythm. It sounds complicated – actually simple; if you’ve heard the term night owl or morning lark, that’s essentially what it is.”
If you’re more of a night owl, your chronotype is likely a wolf, an early riser is typed as a lion, if you’re somewhere in the middle of these, you’d be typed as a bear. So, how does knowing any of this help?
“When you identify your chronotype – which can be really easy by taking a quiz on my website – essentially, a wolf needs 8 hours of sleep, a bear needs 9 hours of sleep or more and a lion needs 7 hours of sleep.”
Olivia said knowing your chronotype can also help to identify some of your sleep and wake cycle issues – for instance, bears often struggle with grogginess and that afternoon slump, while anxiety can affect a lion’s sleep, while wolves are often not getting enough sleep as they’re not tired until it’s late at night.
Keen to figure out your chronotype? Try the quiz out here.
Your bedtime routine is key
A healthy bedtime routine is one of the best ways to improve quality sleep, meaning you have less interrupted sleep, fall asleep quicker and fell refreshed after waking up.
“We generally know when we’ve had a good night’s sleep,” Oliva said. “When you wake up and you genuinely feel ready to start the day, that is an indication that you’ve had a good night’s sleep.”
Olivia says there are 7 vital steps for good sleep hygiene.
- Block out blue light 2 hours before bed: Do this either by shutting off screens or with blue light glasses (orange tinted is the only 100% effective option, according to Olivia). This can help you fall asleep a whopping 70% faster!
- Use lavender: This can assist in activating the parasympathetic nervous system, and help us feel calmer.
- Disconnect from all technology
- Have a shower
- Try a magnesium sleep supplement: Olivia says this stuff can reduce anxiety and help us to switch off.
- Read a book for 20 minutes
- Use an eye mask: This prevents light exposure throughout the evening, whether from streetlights, clocks or other activity in the house.
Keen for more life-changing tips from Olivia? Tune into our latest episode of the Unprocessed podcast for all her transformative techniques and tricks, plus learn more about sleep chronotypes, the best foods for a good night’s sleep and how to find the perfect blue light glasses.