I’m sure you can all agree that at one point in our lives we have gone through a cycle of poor sleep. Maybe you wake up feeling unrested and exhausted. Or you toss and turn throughout the night. Maybe you are at the point where you need medication to help you sleep.
With the world we live in today, there are so many external factors contributing to sleeplessness. Technology, stress, energy drinks and caffeine, readily prescribed medications, lighting, jet lag and shift work.
Our Internal Clocks:
Our sleep- wake cycle is dictated by the Cacadian Rhythm which is the biological cycle of different processes that happen over a time span of about 24 hours. In other words our bodies release chemicals in a 24-hour cycle, nudging us to do certain activities at certain times.
The circadian rhythm is impacted by three main factors: light, time, and melatonin.
Melatonin – Is the most important chemicals involved in this process. It is a hormone that makes us feel drowsy. The amount of melatonin in our bodies starts increasing in the evening and peaks in the middle of the night, letting us know it is time to sleep. It then decreases by morning, allowing us to wake up refreshed. Researchers believe that the melatonin production cycle help keep the sleep-wake cycle on track.
Light. Staring into a bright light for 30 minutes or so can often reset your circadian rhythm regardless of what time of day it is. More commonly, the rising of the sun and light striking your eyes triggers the transition to a new cycle.
Time. The time of day, your daily schedule, and the order in which you perform tasks can all impact your sleep-wake cycle.
How To Sleep Better Naturally:
There are many natural ways to improve your nights sleep, so lets have a look at a few.
Dim all lighting – At least one hour before bed dim all lighting within your house or just leave a dull lamp on or better yet turn them off. Having bright lights around you will affect your melatonin levels and circadian rhythm.
Turn off technology – Screen time is a no no for the same reasons as above. When you are dimming all your lights in your house say goodbye to screens – T.V, Ipads, Phones, anything with the bright lights. Instead pick up a book and nourish your brain.
Avoid caffeine – If you’re having trouble falling asleep, eliminating caffeine from your diet is a quick win. If you can’t go without your morning cup of coffee, then a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is “No coffee after 12pm.” This gives caffeine enough time to wear off before bed time.
Eat a banana for dessert – Bananas are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium, which help to relax overstressed muscles. They also contain tryptophan, which convert to serotonin and melatonin, the brain’s key calming hormones.
Supplement with Magnesium – Magnesium helps muscles relax, giving you a sense of calm before bed. It is also said to help decrease cortisol, the stress hormone that can be keeping you up at night.
Avoid sugar – Sugars especially at night, can cause a blood sugar spike and crash that will lead to difficulty falling or staying asleep. Often people reach for the chocolate of a night, but the cacao within the chocolate is actually a stimulant so not only does it contain the sugar but a stimulant that can keep you awake.
Drink Herbal Tea – Herbal teas are an amazing way to help promote good sleep, plus a nice calming ritual to warm your soul before bed. Try chamomile, passionflower or valerian. Or try already made blends such as Night Time Tea, relax tea, or Stess relief tea.
Lavender oil – Have a warm bath with some drops of lavender oil and magnesium salts before bed, light a lavender candle or diffuser, or drop a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow to help calm and relax you.
Exercise daily – Studies were performed and suggest that exercise significantly improves the sleep of people with chronic insomnia. The only study that looked at the effects of a single exercise session found that a bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g., walking) reduced the time it took to fall asleep and increased the length of sleep of people with chronic insomnia compared to a night in which they did not exercise (Passos et al., 2010).
Meditation – I’m sure it comes to no surprise that mediation helps to promote a good nights sleep?! By relaxing the mind and letting thoughts go you are allowing yourself to sleep well. Even if it is just 15 minutes a night, sitting in silence that is all you may need.
I hope this has given you some ideas on how you can change your sleeping routine and pattern. By implementing even just a few of these tips you will notice your sleep patterns change dramatically. Comment below and let us know what has worked for you.