5 tips for Better Sleep Habits
We’ve all been there planning to go to bed around at a decent time , but then we find ourselves awake and binge watching Netflix or Hulu because we need to see what happens next on “xyz show” – for me it’s reruns of 90s sitcoms-( seriously it's not going anywhere because it's a rerun) and then you look over at your alarm clock and it's 2 am. and you still have to get up for early AM meeting or that early morning workout you signed up for because you are trying to get healthy . How are you going to get through the day on little to no sleep. Caffeine ??? Energy drinks?
In our incredibly “busy” world, it’s not hard to believe that many of us do not meet the recommended 7+ hours of sleep.
Published in January 2017, a study commissioned by the University of Washington Health Sciences concluded chronic sleep deprivation suppresses the immune system. In other words, people get sick more often when they don’t get enough sleep. Sleep is when our body rests and repairs itself so it's vital that we rest and more importantly are well rested.
When we seek care from our General Practice doctor, lifestyle changes usually are not the first thing explored and often a prescription is given. (Please don’t misunderstand me I think – I think Herbalism and Allopathic (modern medicine ) modalities can work together but that is definitely for a different blog post.
There are some things we can do to create a healthy nighttime routine. A healthy routine will hopefully lead to a healthier you and hopefully an improved sleep quality .
1. Turn off your devices 1-2 hours before bedtime
We spend our days behind computer screens and on our phones due to work or just for social media /enjoyment / or even work however we ALWAYS staring at a blue screen. It's rare that you can go to a place where someone is not staring at a device with a few exceptions .When we stare at our blue screens close to bed time this inhibits melatonin (sleep inducing hormone) from being released because our brain is still in an alerted state so our body does'nt think it's time to go to bed.. Try reading a book before bed or chatting with a loved one .
2. Make a Sleepy time blend
This one is one of my favorite parts of the day – even though I drink teas through the day . A blend of some of the best sleep inducing botanicals is going to have you drifting into the Land of Nod . Valerian is a well-known sedative, and will often improve the quality of your sleep but it is not the most pleasant smelling botanical around. Part of taste is smell so in in our blend, we have combined Valerian with relaxing and sedative botanicals like Lavender and chamomile to help with the aroma but also create a dynamic synergy . Check the link to the full list of ingredients
3. Warm up to cool down
Having a warm bath (or shower) to finish your day is not only going to help you sleep better, it also is a great time to be by yourself if you can afford 15-60 minutes for prayer, meditation or a gratitude check. When you step out of that warmth and into your cooler bedroom, your body temperature will drop and this signals your body that it’s time to slow down. Even better if your bathing is adding some bath salts to that tub. Some of the minerals in our bath salts blends aid in helping you sleep like magnesium found in trace amounts in the pink Himalayan salt .
4. Yoga /Pranayama practice
There are so many benefits to a yoga practice for overall health but many Asanas or poses are great for relaxation. Two of my favorite Asanas before bed are child’s pose (balsana) and Legs up the wall ( Viparita Karani) . Child’s pose helps to calm the mind and relieve tension in the body and legs up the wall is super soothing. I tend to finish Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) in a ratio that I and my yoga therapist felt comfortable with and that is maintainable during the rounds. I find that I feel much calmer after doing these 3 activities as well. If you are unsure on how to start a yoga practice find a yoga therapist and they should be able to offer some suggestions in a session. If you are in the greater San Antonio area I recommend the staff at Loka Studio – they are fantastic!
5. Make it a nightly routine.
This one is the pretty important. Keeping your sleep schedule and/or routine will help your body’s circadian rhythm. Once your body finds its grove going to bed -even waking up at certain times will become easier.
These are just a few tips that help me stay on track and sleep soundly – what are some of your favorite night time tips or routines?