There isn’t one aspect of your mental, emotional, or physical health that is not affected by the quality of your sleep. Sleep is so important to our health and many times, it’s the last thing we think about.
Many people fall into the trap of believing that sleep should come naturally and easily, but in the day and age that we live in, it’s becoming harder and harder to sleep well. This is due to our diets, the cities that we live in, and not respecting the natural circadian rhythms of our bodies.
So, before you reach for that pill, try these tips and watch as your body flows back into its natural sleep cycle.
Avoid Screens Before Bed
Our bodies produce melatonin naturally, based on certain indicators that let the body know it’s time for bed. One of those indicators is light. Artificial blue light emitting from your electronic screen triggers your body to produce more daytime hormones (like cortisol) and disorients your body’s natural preparation for sleep.
To prepare your body for sleep, shut down all electronics at least 60 minutes before bed. Place your phone on night mode or download programs like Flux, to alter your computers colour spectrum. By surrounding yourself with orange light before bed, you will encourage the production of melatonin, helping you sleep better naturally.
Set a Sleep Schedule
Once again our bodies work off of rhythms, so if we wake up and go to sleep at roughly the same time every day, our bodies will get used to this routine and know when to start producing important hormones such as melatonin. When we alter our sleep schedule and stay up late we are confusing our bodies natural rhythm and more importantly using up valuable energy that is crucial in the processes that allow our body to undergo repair and restoration.
Create a Sleep Sanctuary
Sleeping is your time for healing, regeneration, rest and recovery. So, setting up your room for the most optimal slumber, and keeping it interruption-free is very important.
Remove all electronics from the bedroom. If you need an alarm, use a battery operated one. Keep the room as dark as possible with black out curtains or an eye mask. Sleep in a cool environment, between 60-68 degrees, to help regulate the body’s temperature. And add a warm orange glow with a Himalayan salt lamp, to purify the air of allergens, pollutants, and dust, while making your bedroom a natural, healthy place to fall asleep.
Relax With a Bedtime Ritual
Slow down with a bedtime routine that promotes relaxation. Take a hot bath with lavender essential oil and magnesium bath salts. Sip on a warm cup of chamomile tea. Take part in some slow stretches to relax your muscles. Practice deep breathing to soothe your nervous system. Listen to calming music or meditate to release your mind from its stressed-out circles of endless thought. Every small effort you make in the direction of calm will add quality to your sleepy time.
Calm Your Inner Chatter
A quick journaling session at the end of the day is a great way to clear your head of worrying thoughts or lingering to-do lists. Before lights out allow yourself 10 minutes to write down your stray thoughts and get any random ideas out of your head and onto paper. That alone will help free up mental space. Try a sleep meditation, there are many guided meditations you can find on YouTube, or meditating apps you can download. I absolutely love Headspace for my nighttime meditation as it prepares me for sleep and helps my body relax.
Use Calming Oils
Aromatherapy oils like lavender, cedarwood, and vetiver all have sedative effects when inhaled. I have a diffuser right next to my bed that allows me to diffuse essential oils while I sleep. If you don’t have a diffuser rub a little on the insides of your wrists, on your temples or on the bottoms of your feet. This will have the same effect and allow you to drift off into a soundless sleep.
A deficiency in magnesium can cause sleep disturbances. Using some magnesium oil on your body before bed will have a calming effect and ensure that you are not deficient in this important mineral. My favourite magnesium oil is ancient minerals. To apply, spray a few squirts into your hands and rub over your body. Also, consider adding some magnesium-rich foods into your diet like dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, and Brazil nuts. You will immediately reduce internal stress and improve your quality of sleep.
Limit Your Caffeine Intake
Caffeine is highly stimulating to the nervous system and over consumption increases cortisol and adrenalin production. Do your best to only consume caffeine in the morning, before noon is best and never later than 2pm. This will give your body ample time to metabolize and fully detox the caffeine from your system.
What are your favorite bed time techniques? What works best for you? I'd love to hear them! Share in the comments below.