Healthy Families Rotorua is collaborating with clinical and mātauranga Māori experts to co-design a Te Arawa Sleep Strategy to reduce toxic stress.
Lead systems innovator, Ranui Maxwell, says He Āhuru Mowai is an iwi-led health prevention strategy which will not only inform Te Arawa, but can contribute to a national strategy around sleep.
“Poor quality sleep leads to toxic stress, which can be connected to high rates of depression and poor decision-making, especially if you’re unable to control feelings of irritability, stress and anxiety.
“We’ve learned that each stage of sleep plays an integral role in the health of the brain, including better thinking, learning and enhanced memory. Research is increasingly showing that sleep has a positive effect on our emotional and mental health.
“We’re onto a winner if we can build whānau and community resilience to certain mental health issues by simply allowing our neural system to modulate during sleep.”
Ranui says there is plenty of data documenting why whānau are not sleeping – from people’s living environments to electronic devices.
“We’re engaging with devices a lot more, which has a huge impact on our sleep. Blue light emissions keep our brain awake and we’re not taking our body queues to start winding down at night to get a restful sleep. This impacts on a lot of things for the whole whānau.
“He Āhuru Mowai is hoping to encourage good sleeping patterns from birth to help regulate our babies’ emotions and feeding times. It addresses the bonding and connections with the brain, in terms of the relationships with significant people around them.”
Ranui says applying good sleeping practices has more of an impact on obesity than physical activity and good nutrition. She says this is particularly important in Aotearoa, as Kiwis have one of the highest obesity rates in the OECD.
“Maramataka practice disrupts the rise in preventable chronic illness and by gathering feedback and measuring impact, we can evidence the importance of mātauranga Māori as a health prevention solution.
“The strategy is about focusing on the importance of sleep to improve mental wellbeing, healthy weight and resilience for the whole whānau – from our babies right through to our pakeke,” says Ranui.
Healthy Families Rotorua leveraged its network to help ensure the triumphant execution of this year’s Te Arawa Kaumātua Olympics, drawing on the collective power of