7 Wellness Tips for Better Sleep
Updated: Mar 9, 2019
Sleep plays a huge role in in the way we feel, how productive we are, our energy levels, and most importantly: our long term health. Diet and exercise might be the popular wellness topics, but if you aren't sleeping well, then no matter what you do, your body will be struggling. The health benefits of regular, restorative sleep include enhanced cognitive ability, improved mental alertness, lower stress levels, clear skin, better immune response, and balanced hormones (this is big for women!).
So how does sleep affect our natural rhythms?
When your body is not getting enough sleep, your body isn't producing as much melatonin, which is a sleep hormone. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced during the night, so when there is a dip in melatonin production, it leads to a spike in cortisol (your stress hormone). We do not want our cortisol spiking at night, as this leads to a less restful sleep. Elevated cortisol overtime leads to an increase in blood sugar levels, and also creates stress and inflammation.
Sleep increases our white blood cell count, and just one night of poor sleep decreases the amount of natural immune cells in the body by 70%! One study found that those who slept less than seven hours were almost three times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept eight hours or more.
Furthermore, mental health issues - such as depression - are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders. In fact, it has been estimated that 90% of people with depression complain about sleep quality.
If you have a hard time falling asleep, here are 7 simple ways to fall asleep, stay asleep, and feel rested the next day.
TIPS FOR BETTER SLEEP
1) Sleep in a Cold Room
Your body temperature changes as you fall asleep. If your room is too warm, you might have a hard time falling asleep, and you may toss and turn. Setting your thermostat to a cool temperature between 60-65º may help you feel more comfortable.
2) Create a Sleep Schedule
Your body has its own regulatory system called the circadian rhythm. This internal clock cues your body to feel alert during the day but sleepy at night, but sometimes it gets confused. Waking up and going to bed at the same times each day can help your circadian rhythm balance out, and it is important to be consistent so that your body knows it can relax and get restorative sleep. You should be sleeping between 7-9 hours ideally.
3) Get your daily dose of daylight
Light influences your body’s internal clock, which regulates sleep. Irregular light exposure can lead to disruption of circadian rhythms, making it harder to fall asleep and stay awake. During the day, exposing your body to bright, natural light helps it feel alert and awake. If you don't have access to natural sunlight every day, you can invest in a sunlight-mimicking light that will tell your body to wake up.
At night, darkness promotes feelings of sleepiness. In fact, research shows that darkness boosts the production of melatonin. Get outside and expose your body to sunlight for 15 minutes every day if possible. At night, make sure there are no little electronic lights or street lights in your eyes.
4) Get your tech out of your bedroom
Watching TV, playing video games, using a mobile phone and social networking can make it nearly impossible for your body to sleep and relax. Plus, the blue light pollution in your eyes is hard on your natural circadian rhythm. The light that we are exposed to through electronics, also known as blue light, has been shown to cause a disruption to the circadian rhythm. Blue light lowers our natural production of melatonin and increases cortisol and ghrelin. These two hormones keep us awake and increase our bodies hunger signals.
It is recommended that you disconnect all electronics and put away computers and mobile phones so you can ensure a quiet place, free of distractions. You will be able to fall asleep much faster.
5) Use Essential Oils Daily & Diffuse them at night
A systematic review of 12 studies revealed that the use of aromatherapy was effective in improving sleep quality (source). Essential oils are an simple, ancient, yet powerful tool to aid your body in many ways, including relaxation and deep sleep support. As soon as the nose is triggered by a scent, it travels to the part of our brain which controls our emotions and memory. The limbic system and amygdala control the nervous system, which is where we can experience this calming effect from 100% undiluted essential oils. The only brand I recommend is Young Living (read more about oils here).
Lavender essential oil is one of the most versatile and commonly used essential oils to have on hand, and I believe it belongs in every single home on earth. Lavender is one of the oils that has been tested for its ability to aid sleep, and all the results show it has profound effects on relaxation levels on the body and mind. I like to spritz a lavender essential oil spray onto my pillow at night.
One of my all-time favorite blends that I have used for sleep since I was a child, is Peace & Calming. This blend is unique to Young Living and is one of the most popular essential oils because of how powerful its effects are on the body and mind for sleep support. Both Lavender and Peace & Calming are available with a diffuser & 10 more oils for beginners in the Premium Starter Kit.
6) Get the Right Pajamas
Have you ever thought about the fact that we spend an equal amount of time in our PJ's as we do in regular clothes? What you wear to bed can also have an impact on how well you rest, so make sure that you love what you sleep in. When choosing the right pair of pajamas, look for something that is going to be light and breathable, loose, and comfy. Linen, organic cotton and silk are all gentle and breathable materials. Sleeping naked is also shown to be very healthy, and it can actually provide health benefits too.
7) Create a Solid Bedtime Routine
A regular, solid bedtime routine allows your mind to unplug from distractions and your body to relax, which has a great impact on a deeper sleep. One-hour prior to sleep, stop eating snacks, put away your water, turn off your bright lights and electronics, change into something comfy, and start your nightly routine.
Use this hour as a way to de-stress and indulge in some self-care.
Some ideas for a nightly routine:
• Make yourself a cup of Sleepy Time tea from Traditional Medicinals
• Turn on some gentle mood lighting with a red light bulb in your nightstand lamp, a Himalayan salt lamp, or a few unscented beeswax candles in your bedroom
• Play some soft relaxing music while you do your nightly skincare routine
• Apply 2 drops of essential oils to your wrists and inhale deeply 3x as you climb into bed
• Spend a few minutes reading or journaling to help yourself unwind and unplug
• Practice breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth
What are your favorite bedtime rituals?