By now you know that sleep is NOT overrated. High-quality sleep is vital for both healing and sustained wellness. Though the body seems inactive during sleep, it is actually quite busy on the inside.
During the night, we restock our supply of hormones, process toxins, repair damaged tissue, general vital white blood cells, eliminate the effects of stress, and process heavy emotions. You might even say that you get more done during the night than during the day.
Sadly, there is an epidemic of sleep disorders – from trouble falling asleep to often-interrupted sleep to actual insomnia. When working with clients, I always encourage improved sleep as a priority. Not only does sleep support the healing journey, but it also increases our motivation to make further lifestyle changes.
Sleep is ultimately a gift of the pineal gland! Following our circadian rhythm, this ant-sized lobe in our brain secretes a neurotransmitter and hormone you may recognize. Melatonin suppresses the activity of other neurotransmitters and helps to calm the brain to prepare for sleep. But there’s a catch ….
The pineal gland secretes melatonin largely in response to darkness. I’m confident in my assumption that everyone who is reading this newsletter enjoys lighting in the evening, along with TV, video games, and staying updated on our phones or laptops. Our evening activity choices can get in the way of natural sleep-supporting chemical shifts by confusing the brain about whether it is night or not.
Where do I start with my clients? With simple changes that I call “sleep hygiene”:
- Turn off all full-spectrum light (electronics) for a full hour before bedtime. Wind down with quiet activities to help you relax (read a book, take a warm bath, play with a pet, go for a gentle stroll).
- Avoid amping up your brain with activities like balancing your checkbook or having stressful conversations in the hour before bedtime. If your to-do list has your head spinning, get it out of your head and on to paper.
- Make it quiet – but not too quiet. if noise is an issue in your bedroom, I often recommend soft foam ear plugs or the white noise of a fan.
- Mind the temperature as we often awaken when the room is too hot or too cold. Extremes can also increase our stress hormones which promotes wakefulness.
- Develop a relaxing ritual at night. Herbal tea can help set the tone for sleep. A hot bath with Epsom salts infuses magnesium for relaxation. Reading an inspirational book or gratitude journaling will calm mind and body.
- Quiet your digestion. This particularly powerful tip surprises many. For clients with insomnia or light, restless sleep, I recommend no food at all for a full 3 hours before bed.
Are you one who hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in many moons? If so, it is taking a toll on your life.
The tips I have provided here will provide a good starting point for your journey back to the Land of Nod. If your efforts in these areas do not provide the desired results, contact me and we can explore the next level of options.
Make it your mission to sleep well.