We all know that sleep is important; it’s a time for rest and repair. When we don't get adequate sleep, it can impact all areas of our life. Not only does our physical health suffer, but it can also affect our appetite, mood and mental clarity. While some of us have a hard time falling asleep, others can have a hard time staying asleep. Both of these are not ideal and should be addressed.
While there are many prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids available, they provide temporary relief but don’t address the main cause/s of your sleeplessness. These sleep aids can also come with unwanted side effects and don’t allow our bodies to get the deep sleep that it truly needs.
So instead of resorting to a bandaid for your insomnia, here are some all natural tips to help you improve your sleep:
MINIMIZE BRIGHT LIGHT
When the sun goes down and the lights go out, our brains (specifically the pineal gland) start to produce melatonin which is our sleep time hormone. When the sun starts to come up in the morning and we sense the presence of light, the pineal gland then starts to produce serotonin which is our daytime wakefulness hormone. So when we have a bunch of lights on in the evening, or are taking in the bright light from our phones or the television, we don’t produce the amount of melatonin needed to get us to start feeling sleepy. I find that it’s best to “unplug” from technology and use dim lighting at least 1 hour before bedtime. I love using the last hour of my day to be tech-free and to practice self care. Click here to check out some of my favorite self care activities.
CREATE A SLEEP SANCTUARY
A cool, dark and quiet environment is best for quality sleep. Our body temperature naturally lowers as we sleep, so having a cooler environment can help stimulate and initiate sleepiness. The ideal temperature range is somewhere between 60-67 degrees fahrenheit. Having white noise from a fan can also help block distracting noises and produces soothing sounds that can help improve sleep. A clean and calming space can also help aid in relaxation. I enjoy using a soothing and calming lavender sleep spray to help promote sleepiness.
BE MINDFUL OF YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE
Caffeine affects everyone a little differently - some of us metabolize it better than others. Some caffeine sources such as coffee, cause spikes in adrenaline and glucose which also impact our insulin levels. In some people, this combination can produce jitters and anxiety. While there are some health benefits to consuming coffee, its best to minimize or even eliminate coffee if you find yourself feeling wired, especially late in the day. Remember that caffeine is also found in soft drinks, chocolate and some teas, so be mindful of those as well. If you want to continue to enjoy your products that contain caffeine, reduce the amount and consume it earlier in the day. I recommend a “caffeine cut-off” time each day - the more caffeine affects you, the earlier the time should be. It also might be helpful for you to switch to lower caffeinated beverages
Here are some of my favorite coffee alternatives:
Easy Vanilla Matcha Latte
Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee
CREATE A SLEEP SCHEDULE
Creating a solid sleep schedule can help get your body into a routine so that it will naturally start to wind down each day. If you start to “power down” each night an hour before your set bed time, this continuous schedule will help initiate sleepiness on its own. It can be helpful at first to create an alarm on your phone as a reminder to start winding down.
EAT BALANCED MEALS
Eating a balanced diet that includes all the macronutrients (protein, fats and carbohydrates) is important for energy, repair and satiation. If you’re not meeting your body's nutritional needs, your sleep will likely be affected. If you consume a high amount of refined and processed food, your blood sugar will likely be impacted which can negatively impact your sleep. While it’s important to consume foods in their natural and whole state, it's also important to make sure you’re getting in the beneficial dietary fiber. Fiber not only helps with satiety and digestion, but it also helps stabilize our blood sugar. Fiber is found abundantly in the plant kingdom (vegetables, fruit, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds), so be sure to get lots of those items in throughout the day.
While insomnia and difficulty sleeping can result from a variety of things, these tips will make sure your sleeping basics are covered.