I remember when I used to associate sleeping with being lazy. I think the expression I used was "I'll sleep when I'm dead". Um...yeah. Luckily I've smartened up. Sleeping is honestly one of my favorite activities and my health has improved tremendously because of it.
The benefits of sleep are incredible. Sleep is our body's time to recover from everything it did for us during the day and has been show to:
- assist with weight loss
- increase athletic performance
- improve concentration and memory
- increase cell repair
- decrease risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- improve mood
- decrease the risk of depression
- improve immune system function
- decrease inflammation
- improve social skills
It's crazy how many people suffer from insomnia or put sleep at the bottom of their list of priorities. I used to suffer from chronic insomnia until I learned how to amp up my sleep hygiene. Here are some effective tips to ensure you get a night of quality, rejuvenating sleep.
Tips for a good night's sleep
- Make your bedroom all about sleep- and that's it. No tv, no work, no eating. Just sleep.
- Treat yourself to a comfortable mattress and pillows. You spend a majority of your life in bed- make it as pleasant and soothing as possible.
- Increase sunlight exposure during the day.
- No screen time at least 2 hours before bed. If this isn't possible, wear orange goggles to block the blue light emitted from screens which stimulates the body. Read more about this here.
- Download flux to your computer which will give your screen an amber glow when the sun sets.
- Get black out curtains to block out the artificial light from surrounding buildings, cars and street lights. All electric light at night disrupts the circadian rhythm of the pineal gland and production of melatonin which is responsible for a deep and restful sleep.
- Diffuse calming essential oils such as lavender, or chamomile.
- Get into a sleep pattern. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including the weekends.
- Try to go to sleep and wake up with the sun. If this is not happening, aim to get into bed before 10 pm and rise around 6 am or 7 am.
- Exercise daily, but not close to bed time. Exercising in the daylight is ideal.
- Sip calming herbal teas like chamomile, lavender, or kava.
- Take a Magnesium supplement. Try an oral one like CALM, or a topical one like this.
- Limit or avoid refined sugar and processed foods.
- Avoid eating a large meal several hours before bed.
- If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, it may be a sign that your blood sugar is crashing. Try having a small fat or protein snack before bed like a few bites of chicken, or a small spoonful of coconut oil.
- Journal or make a list of things to do the following day before bed to clear your brain.
- Write down the things you are grateful for.
- Keep a pen and paper next to your bed in case you wake up with thoughts that you need to get out. Writing them down will clear your head and allow you to fall back to sleep.
- Use a sound machine or earplugs to block out outside noise.
- Meditation is a powerful tool for obtaining health, both physical and mental. It helps you sleep, be present, manage stress, feel grounded...the list goes and on. Yet so many people feel intimidated by it. Meditation does not have to be a huge affair with candles and hours of silence in front of a giant Buddha statue (although that would be lovely). Just sitting still and focusing on your breath for 5 minutes a day can have profound effects
- Hot baths before bed—take a 15 minute hot bath about 90 minutes before bed. Add one or two cups of Epsom salts along with a calming essential oil such as lavender or chamomile.
And don't forget about the power of a good nap. Napping is the perfect way to refresh and replenish. The length of time you nap also has different effects on your brain. 10-20 minutes or 90 minutes seem to be the sweet spots .