Why is it so hard for so many of us to get good quality sleep? How come some people fall asleep before their heads hit the pillow and others lie awake all night? Is it possible to change your sleep patterns and finally achieve a restful night?
Yes! I’ve battled poor sleep for years and have come up with a number of tips and tricks that have helped me to get a good night’s sleep. Today I’m going to share my all natural tips for how to get to sleep and stay asleep.
So much of what I’ll share with you today are quick lifestyle changes. Modern life has come with many conveniences, but not without a cost. We are busier, more stressed, trying to do more in less time, and working late into the night. I understand that sometimes life’s circumstances require unhealthy behaviors, but I also believe that if you are suffering ill effects from being over-worked and under-rested, you must be looking to make a change! Make a plan to get yourself out of that situation ASAP. Whether it’s a job change or delegating responsibilities to those around you, do it! If there is one thing I know without a doubt, it’s that stress will screw up way more than your sleep!
So what is sleep hygiene? It’s a fancy term for how you prepare for sleep. If you are saying to yourself, “Prepare for sleep? Don’t you just GO to bed and hope to sleep?”, then have I got some goodies for you!
First let’s talk environment. As the evening hours approach, we should have more Melatonin production occurring. Melatonin is our sleep hormone and your long lost best friend if you have trouble sleeping. If you body isn’t making it, you aren’t gonna be sleeping soundly. How does our body know to make Melatonin? Historically, as the sun set, our environments got darker. Candles and fires lit our way, not overhead lights and lamps. Or even worse, computer screens and cell phones. Our bodies are signaled to up the Melatonin production as it gets darker. And darkness outside isn’t good enough, you have to adjust your indoor environment too.
My husband has installed dimming switches on all of the lights that we use after dark. Our kitchen and bathroom lights are dimmed around 7:30 or 8pm as we start to unwind. We purchased these awesome lamps with adjustable dimming to use in the bedroom.
Television, computers, and phones are put away at least one hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted from these devices will seriously jack up your Melatonin production. If you find that you must use these devices before bed, do yourself a favor and get a pair of orange glasses to block the blue light. Keep in mind that these glasses are a crutch and you should do you best to avoid these devices. Using the glasses will block the blue light, but it will not block the large, bright screen inches from your face!
Light from indoors is only part of the issue. Unless you live in the middle of the country, there is a pretty good chance that you will be getting light exposure from street lights, commercial buildings, and passing cars. Invest in light blocking drapes or shades for your bedroom. The darker it is in there, the better!
I find that a slightly cooler room is also helpful. I pile up the blankets, but keep the room on the cooler side. Who wants to be sweaty while they sleep?
Let’s talk Adrenals next. I had a seriously severe case of Adrenal Exhaustion a few years ago and if you want to know about screwed up sleep…holy cow. I’d get a second wind around 10pm and couldn’t get to sleep for most of the night. As soon as the alarm sounded for work, I was dead tired. I’d perk up a little after my morning coffee, but I’d slump again around 3pm and would need a carb or caffeine boost to get me through. So. Not. Fun.
How does Adrenal Fatigue happen? I believe it’s a combination of stress and personality. I had a high stress job and am a type A person pleaser. My motto was never say “no” and work your butt off! Crazy. No more. If you think you may be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue (poor sleep patterns, depression, salt cravings, sweet cravings, low energy, low libido, needing to urinate all the time) – get help! You can get better, but it’s process and a holistic practitioner who is well versed in the condition is your best friend.
Some of the things I learned when resetting my Adrenals involved stress management (see below for my meditation practice) and nutrition. My doctor recommended a couple of spoonfuls of nut butter and a glass of full fat milk right before bed. This is a healthy dose of fat from the nut butter and full fat dairy and some carbs from the milk to help chill out the Adrenals and keep your Cortisol (stress hormone) from ramping up. Cortisol kicks in when we are hungry or poorly nourished. Elevated Cortisol at night = poor sleep.
I still use this if I’m feeling a little hungry before bed or if I’ve had an extra stressful day. I find that Chamomile tea or Valerian Root tea are also very calming and will sometimes have a cup with the nut butter or coconut butter.
Next up – turn off the racing thoughts in your mind! This one is hard for me, but I’ve figured out a few things that work consistently. First, do something relaxing before bed. Take a detox bath, talk with your partner about something that brings you joy, knit or crochet… I love to read, but I choose an educational or self-help type book or a new cookbook. Something that I have to concentrate on, but not something that will stimulate strong emotional responses like a scary novel.
After reading for 20-30 minutes, I put the book away and meditate. This is a new practice for me, but the benefits are incredible. My meditation practice helps me to clear my mind and calm my heart. I’ve found that repeating a mantra works best for me, but you may find that a guided meditation is better for you. A few years ago I was introduced to the Sedona Method by a holistic practitioner. It’s a fantastic program for addressing stressful feelings and releasing them. This may be a good place for you to start if meditation is new for you.
Finally, when all else fails, I keep a herbal sleep supplement on my bedside table. I’ve found that if I’m good about sticking with the above plan, I don’t need the supplement. But let’s be real, nobody’s perfect and stuff happens. Rather than popping a prescription sleep aide, try using a natural product.
I hope you found some helpful tidbits here! Do you struggle with sleep? What works best for you to overcome poor sleep? Please let me know in the comments!
Enjoy and good night!!
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