"The topic of healthy sleep could fill a whole book on its own", writes qualified naturopath and nutritionist Jess Blair in her new book, Wellness: Small Changes for Big Results.
The former body builder and wife to New Zealand Warriors second-row forward Adam Blair released her wellness manual this month, which explores nutrition, exercise, supplementation, lifestyle, and, of course, sleep.
Sleep impacts on mood, energy and hunger, Jess explains, saying many of us refuse to listen to our body’s signals.
“In theory, sleeping should be simple. Go to bed when it’s dark, get up when it’s light. However, electricity came along and disrupted that natural cycle. Modern technology particularly screens, now keep us up for longer and longer,” she says.
Smartphones and other blue light emitting devices are largely to blame for interfering with our body’s own circadian rhythm, which is cued by the rising and setting of the sun.
“When we are exposed to the first light of the day, the stimulating hormone cortisol is released and our body temperature starts to rise,” Jess says.
“Ideally, we want cortisol to keep us alert in the day and taper off in the evening, which is when melatonin (the sleep hormone) kicks in.”
Previously, cortisol had a bad rep for keeping our bodies in state Jess describes as “tired wired”, but the right balance of this stress hormone can be healthy, Jess says.
“It helps us to focus, to get our work done and to meet deadlines. It’s when stress becomes chronic that it becomes problematic, detrimental to our sleeping habits and our health,” she says.
After receiving a desperate call from the Warriors after a poor 2017 season, Jess and Adam packed up their lives in Brisbane to relocate to Auckland with their two children, Harlem and Taika.
Whangarei-born Adam had always dreamt of returning home, and managed to convince his Australian wife to make the move. The last two years have proven fruitful for the couple, with Adam leading his team to victory on more than one occasion and Jess having become a regular on Auckland’s speaking circuit.
“I think from competing and marrying a professional athlete, I took more of an interest in nutrition. I was lucky that my passion turned into a career, I am so grateful to be in a position to help as many people as I can,” Jess says.
Jess explains that her book was written as “a direct response to the questions I was being asked most. I think it’s important to give people the tools, and they can change their health in a way that suits their lifestyle”.