Take A Stand For Sleep! – 20 Tips For A Better Night’s Rest And A Healthier Life

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I actually was doing some research into stress, organizing your life to reduce it while getting more done in a peaceful way, along with the tools to help do this, but I kept running into the importance of sleep in relation to stress, health, wellness, better immunity, weightloss as well as the info that lack of sleep is being linked to higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer and chronic disease. (read more here, here and here).

While most of us probably do not realize this, several articles indicated that sleep was just as important as eating healthy and exercising in contributing to overall health, wellness and longevity!

Elsewhere I read that women working the night shift had a 400% higher risk of cancer and your probability of getting sick triples if you get less than 7 hrs of sleep per night! (read more here)

Wow! I knew sleep was important, but it hadn’t really registered to me like it did when I read these things – especially because I personally have been experiencing an increase in blood pressure over the last few months and am very interested in finding ways to resolve that without medication (I finally had to resort to using one with the least amount of side effects while I see about getting it under control and would love to get off that as well). Because of this it, the possible relationship with sleep really caught my attention.

I also have been saying for quite some time now that I feel I need to get more consistent about my bedtime and the quantity of my sleep to help with energy lags and to support overall health and immune strength, but I keep staying up until sometime between midnight and 2 a.m. doing this or that – usually internet research, reading of emails, projects, etc. (many people can probably relate to this) Somehow time just slips by and another day passes where I haven’t gotten in bed, but reading all of this is helping me to take a stand regarding the importance of my sleep.

I also read that through the ages we typically went to bed and awoke based on the light available (makes sense – we have done this when camping out). Now, due to the invention of electricity and synthetic lighting we often stay awake well after the sun has set and frequently do not get enough sleep, while also interrupting the body’s natural timing for removing toxins and performing it’s restoration functions. The optimal time for this occurs during sleep approximately between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. When we do not sleep during this time, we are actually causing a backup of toxins and hormones in our bodies. This, in turn, can disrupt the balance of both serotonin and melatonin, which help to regulate good sleep as well as being alert during the daytime aka being groggy during the day and feeling restless at nighttime. Poor sleep can also create memory challenges, fatigue (no mystery there), brain fog and creates additional stress on your body.

You may be thinking, “Ok, ok, so it sounds like getting consistent and beneficial sleep is really important, what about some help in getting that done?” To help those with questions, as well as myself, here are some insights into help for getting more and/or better quality sleep:

1 – Taking a nice hot bath with a half a cup each of Epsom salt and baking soda (you can also add some of your favorite relaxing essential oils if you want) will not only provide you magnesium (from the Epsom salts) but also help to alkalize your body (from the baking soda) and raise your body temperature, all helping your to sleep better.

2 – Using a guided imagery or meditation cd can help you relax and transition from your day into your night and assist in being able to sleep;

3 – Doing gentle yoga, stretching or getting a relaxing massage before bed can help you relax and fall asleep much easier.

4 – Make sure your bed is used for sleeping and making love only! Your amazingly powerful mind will notice this and it will help support your sleep to just lay down in bed because of the association. Introducing reading, television, computer usage, etc into the bedroom interferes with that.

5 – Create a regular sleep rhythm by going to bed and getting up at about the same time each day. This helps to support your mind and body in knowing that it is time to go to sleep or time to wake up and see what kind of adventures are awaiting you that day. Getting between 7.5 and 8 hours sleep per night is what is usually recommended. You may need more if you are healing or have some other challenge going on.

6 – A nighttime temperature between 63-70 degrees is optimal for initiating sleep (and can save on your utility bill).

7 – Create a sleep supportive environment. This is done through having total darkness and providing peace and quiet. Light can interfere or affect the quality of your sleep and hormone cycles. To help with this, you can get light blocking curtains/shades as well as use eyeshades (I like this one). Remove light generating devices, chargers, etc to minimize light coming from them as well, and relocate them to another room/area. Make adjustments to reduce or remove any sounds or wear earplugs if you are really sensitive. It is also important to be soothed by the colors, fabrics, furniture and clutter-free environment of your bedroom. (At our house, we really enjoy this amazingly beautiful bedspread we acquired (check it out here) as well as using candles (like these) when we snuggle or are relaxing and prefer a romantic or soothing tone.)

8 – Getting at least 20 minutes a day in the sunshine helps to stimulate your brain to release specific chemicals and hormones needed for better mood, sleep and aging.

9 -Eat at least 3 hours prior to your bedtime for optimal digestion and sleep to take place and refrain from vigorous exercise after dinner as it is stimulating to the body/mind and will interfere with being able to go to sleep.

10 – Take 200-400 mg of magnesium (citrate and glycinate are the preferred forms) shortly before bedtime to relax both the nervous system and the muscles. (some that I use are here and here)

11 – Warming your core. Really! Apparently warming the mid-section triggers the sleep chemistry in your body. You can do this with a hot water bottle, heating pad or snuggle up to someone you love (sounds the most fun to me!).

12 – Take some melatonin. Usually 1-3 mg per night, shortly before you are getting in bed, is helpful. If you wake up in the morning after a sufficient amount of sleep and still feel sedated, experiment to find your optimal amount by cutting back on the dose you are taking until you find your best dose.

13 – Supplementing with Omega-3 fish oil throughout the day has been found to be beneficial.

14 -Minimize your computer and tv usage after dark. The type of lighting emitted is said to be disruptive to our body and sleep.

15 – Additional herbs and supplements that may also help are calcium, theanine (an amino acid found in green tea), GABA, 5-HTP, and magnolia. I also like passionflower, and some people benefit from valerian root extract, taken one hour before bed, however other people actually get stimulated by it. If that is the case for you, use the passionflower or chamomile instead.

16 – Have a cup of soothing tea before bedtime (a couple good ones are here and here).

17 – Avoid taking any medications or foods that can interfere with sleep such as caffeine (best to avoid after 3 pm at the latest, noon is probably even better), sugar, antihistamines & cold medicines, headache formulas that contain caffeine, alcohol (it might help you to fall asleep but is disruptive to the quality and continuity of sleep), etc.

18 – If you notice that you have a tendency toward a busy and worry-filled mind that keeps you from being able to fall asleep at night, take the time to write all your worries down n a notebook about an hour before bedtime. Include your ideas about some solutions that can be begun the next day and plant the seed in your mind that everything is ok and you will be addressing these things tomorrow. This helps to allow for letting go of your worries and finding peace, laying the foundation for a good night’s rest.

19 – Use essential oils to aid in your relaxation. I have really found that there are a couple combinations that I quite like (my husband even likes to use it occasionally). Sometimes when I notice I am a little stressed, I grab the bottle and either just take a really deep breath or I do that AND put some on my finger and dab it under my nose so I can continue to smell the lovely calming fragrances as I move about my day (check them out here and here).

20 – More recently, I have found that a round of really good laughter is very fun and beneficial for calming, soothing and paving the way for sleep or relaxation. One article discussing a study done utilizing laughter for pain relief revealed that “[t]he best way to follow a pain-relieving laugh (ie, a deep, heart-felt belly laugh), according to another set of studies published in the journal Science, is with some restorative sleep. This is especially true if you’re feeling overwhelmed and bogged down by mental clutter. Researchers have discovered that not only does sleep allow the body to rest and prepare for the day to come, but it also plays a critical role in removing “potentially neurotoxic waste products” that build up in the brain while awake. (read more here). In other words, if you are not getting the necessary rest, at the right time of night, our brain is not able to do the house cleaning it needs to remove toxins and you accumulate them. They can then interfere with brain function, emotions, etc. Hmmmm…..

I don’t know about you, or if you feel you are doing really good in the sleep area, but I am definitely taking this opportunity to make a commitment, starting today, to get my bu-t-t in bed by 11 p.m. for the next 30 days and get at least 7.5 hrs of sleep per night to see what I notice. I will keep you posted on how it goes.

Please feel free to share this post and information with anyone you know who you feel would benefit from it.

Blessings to you and thank you for all the loving parenting you do; it makes a better world, one Sweetie at a time.

Hug attached,

Koolma  : )

Have you had experience(s) with sleep issues or sleep-related health issues?         What techniques have you used to help with sleep and rest?     Do you have any stories about sleep to share?

We’d love to hear from you!  Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section so we can help each other; remember, we are all in this together!

 

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