Natural Tips for a Restful Nights Sleep
Beauty Sleep is not a myth. I'm pretty we are all aware we need rest but its the actual catching of the sleep that can be a challenge. Many cellular processes occur while we sleep to repair stress and damage that happens to our body on a daily basis from external pollutants to the effects of hormone fluctuations.
During our deep sleep stages 3 and 4, Human Growth Hormone, our anti-aging hormone, is secreted and responsible for for repairing and restoring tissue throughout the body, including our collagen matrix, hence keeping our skin supple and youthful. All of our cells regenerate while we sleep, peaking at around 2am. This cell process happens regardless if we are sleeping or not but the surge in growth hormone does not. Evidence also shows that there is a slower breakdown of proteins, the building blocks of our tissues, during deep sleep cycles. The combination of slower protein breakdown, increased cell production and growth hormone surges work optimally to repair any daily damage to the skin and body from factors like stress, UV rays and pollutants. Without our deep sleep cycles, there is no way for this combination of repair to occur throughout our bodies, skin very much included.
In a perfect world, we would all float off effortlessly at the same time every night, with no interruptions throughout our sleep cycle, waking up refreshed, renewed and ready for the day but we all know that is not always the case. However, I am sharing my top tips below for sound sleep and, although a tip, it entails more than just drinking herbal tea.
1. Stick to a schedule. Being a natural night-owl in combination with an ever changing schedule, this has always been a challenge for me. However, when I do follow a routine schedule, regardless if I need to be to bed early or not, my natural energy levels are noticeably higher and more productive during the day. We can't change sleeping patterns overnight but creating a schedule and sticking to it will eventually reset your circadian rhythm. Start with 15 minutes earlier to bed than usual and 15 minutes up earlier to start seeing gradual changes.
2. Try to avoid that snooze button, post snooze sleep is not high quality sleep, your better off heading straight to your coffee or tea maker. Those increments of 5-8 minutes of dozing will induce more grogginess and continue to off set your circadian rhythm. I've been a life-long snooze button-er in the past. It is now inevitable that my alarm be across the room and I have to get out of bed to shut it off.
3. All hail Magnesium, my favorite supplement. Low magnesium is associated with irritability, muscle cramps, restless legs syndrome, headaches, jaw tightness, constipation and anxiety to name a few. All very "uptight" ailments, think of Magnesium as the relaxing supplement because that is exactly what it does. I swear by Natural Vitality Calm powder, an excellent source of added magnesium to your diet and my number 1 recommendation for unwinding and calming the mind before bed. Stress can sometimes be unavoidable but taking extra care and ease with your mind and thoughts can make a huge difference in how it plays out and effects things like our sleep and mood. Herbal teas great for rest and sleep would include valerian, chamomile, lavender, kava, etc. You can also find blends for sleeping, which I recommend since they usually contain a combination of herbs that will help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
4. Harmonious Bedroom Feng- Shui. Is your bedroom also your office, storage unit, movie lounge and maybe your kitchen too? This can be challenging, believe me, I live in a studio but bedrooms, or the bedroom area, are for sleeping and sex. According to feng-shui practices, our bedrooms should be filled with calming and sensual energies. A bedroom filled with your workload, bills, cluttered furniture, night tables filled with "stuff" and TV are all distractions from quality sleep and quality relationships. Your bedroom should be inviting, open and free of clutter, especially around and underneath your bed.
4. TV in the bedroom. Although it can be thought of to help us fall asleep, it is quite the opposite. Our bodies start to secrete melatonin before sleep but the lights from TV inhibit this production, your ability to sleep and actually signal your brain to stay awake. However, what TV does do is cause a distraction from autonomic arousal, which is when all is quiet in your surroundings and your thoughts and anxiety's from the day can start creeping in. Your body cannot reach unconsciousness sleep with these elevated anxiety's so TV distracts you, your thoughts float over and you fall asleep. If this is the case, set a timer for your TV to shut off to continue restful sleep and be able reach your deepest R.E.M sleep cycles throughout the night.
5. A comfortable mattress and bedding, your health is worth the investment. I recently purchased a mattress with no springs in it, Yogabed, specifically to avoid sleeping on metal. Springs are made of metal and conduct electromagnetic fields, which can disrupt sleep patterns.
6. Electro Magnetic Fields are invisible energy fields emitted from all electrical devices around us including electrical wiring, cell phones, computers, power lines, etc. So how attuned are you to yourself and to the energy around you? I'm very sensitive to energy and I know the difference of sleeping with things plugged in around my head vs. not. Sometimes we don't notice how "loud" things are or how sensitive we are until that something is gone. So unplug, remove your devices from your bedroom, keep the phone alarm across the room and notice the difference in a more sound sleep.
7. Which brings us to devices. Our phones, tablets, etc. emit electromagnetic fields, bright light that signals the brain to stay awake, inhibiting melatonin secretions and are a large a distraction and anxiety inducer for our minds. Social media, news, comparisons, clicking, scrolling, more clicking, more scrolling, no wonder we can't fall asleep. Just put it away, an hour before bed and keep it away and hour after you wake up. People have been falling asleep and waking up without notifications and emails for centuries. If they can do it, we can do it. Again, try it for a week, I promise you will notice a difference. Your body, brain and mood will thank you.
8. Earthing. Stand outside and ground yourself to the earth. The research on electro magnetic fields may be somewhat inconclusive but interestingly enough, I did find this study on the positive effects of earthing for sleep and inflammation. Instead of always being connected to our devices, let's connect to the earth.