Not just a great picture of my handsome hubs…check out this kid! He can sleep anywhere! Hence the phrase, “sleep like a baby”!
poor night’s sleep is inevitable. There are simply too many circumstances that prevent night after night of blissful, uninterrupted sleep.
From fire trucks or trains, to medivac helicopters (which occasionally fly right over our house), crying babies and sick kids, to allergies or barking dogs, a poor night’s sleep effects even the soundest of sleepers. But what do you do when one night of poor sleep turns into two nights, which then turns into the norm?
A lack of sleep equates to stress on the body, which can oftentimes lead to weight gain, premature aging, hormone imbalance, lowered immune function, hair loss and even infertility.
We live in a rushed society where having more on our plate is considered a badge of honor, but this badge of honor comes at a price…and the price can sometimes be our health.
Whether you lie in bed for hours while sleep eludes you, or you fall asleep quickly but find yourself waking easily throughout the night, tossing and turning, or perhaps you fall asleep quickly, but are wide awake again at 2 am…consider adopting one (or all) of the following healthy changes to promote sleep this month. Keep track of which ones are helping and make them part of your new healthy lifestyle.
(This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few ideas to try):
1. Eat quality fats, proteins and antioxidants
Because sleep starts when you wake up (it’s true!), be sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet full of healthy fats, quality proteins and high antioxidant foods throughout the day. These will help give your body adequate fuel for your hormone producing organs to do their jobs properly.
Without adequate nutrition our hormone producing organs cannot function properly. A lack of sleep affects the movement of the thyroid-stimulating hormone (as well as increased levels of the “stress hormone,”) cortisol. When excess cortisol is released it triggers our “fight or flight” reaction. When our body recognizes this “stress” it shuts down normal maintenance and begins storing fat while releasing sugar into the bloodstream (for quick energy). Nutrients become quickly depleted and cravings for simple carbohydrates and sugars are felt. Prolonged or chronic stress can eventually lead to insulin resistance. (source)
2. Turn off artificial lights
Try avoiding artificial lights after the sun goes down. This can be tough in the winter, but try your best to do this at least 2 hours before you want to fall asleep.
Artificial lights include items like smart phones, TV’s, computers, iPad’s and light bulbs. Even light from your alarm clock or diffuser can negatively effect your sleep. Remember that our ancestors used to rise in the morning and fall asleep with the setting sun, only using candle or firelight when needed (which are not considered artificial light, so feel free to stay awake by the fireside!). We even use blackout curtains in our bedroom because we have a streetlight that shines through our bedroom window all night.
If you’re accustomed to surfing the web at night (and don’t want to change this), consider wearing blue-light blocking glasses or downloading a program to reduce the blue light on your screens. Google “blue light blockers for computers” to find a computer software (such as f.lux) that works for you.
3. Rise and go to bed the same time each day
Remember those ancestors? They had a rhythm to life. A rhythm that has been interrupted by artificial lights and the stress of a fast paced lifestyle. This rhythm has a name, and it’s called our circadian clock. Circadian means “about a day”, so this clock is what our body follows on a daily basis. Adhering to these tips can assist in resetting our circadian clocks to help our bodies find our normal and healthy sleep patterns.
Remember that our ancestors worked the land, grew and harvested their food, and hand-made many of the goods they used daily, all of which took planning, time, energy and purpose. Today, we simply hop in our heated or air-conditioned vehicles and drive to the grocery store for a last minute meal. At times, I’m afraid this convenient lifestyle is to our own detriment.
The constant lure of the internet, or the endless supply of entertainment on TV grabs hold of us, and can easily steal our sleep.
Try, as much as is up to you, to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. (source)
4. Avoid caffeine after 1 PM
Makes sense, right? But passing on caffeine is hard to do when the 3 PM fog leaves us reaching for another “cuppa joe”.
Instead of caffeine, try eating a tablespoon of coconut oil! Sound gross? Try one of these chocolate bugs or this gingerbread “latte” instead. Then, as the afternoon fog lifts, you’ll thank me! Plus you’ll be getting adequate fats (remember tip #1?).
5. Too many trips to the potty?
I understand that as we have babies and get older, this may be unavoidable. But, if the need to “go” keeps waking you up at night, consider drinking more water earlier in the day. Aim to stop drinking fluids 2 hours before bed.
This tip, in combination with the other tips, (even if you do have to make a quick jaunt to the loo) should help you fall back to sleep with ease.
6. Get 30 minutes of sun a day
Yes, occasionally difficult when the weather doesn’t cooperate, but when it’s possible, get outside for some direct sunshine for 20-30 minutes. The wide-spectrum light boosts serotonin levels, which directly help improve melatonin levels at night (the “sleep” promoting hormone).
Don’t sit in front of a window, expecting to gain the same results. This is actually harmful as the cancer causing UVA rays penetrate through glass, but the beneficial UVB rays do not.
7. Get/give a massage
If you’re married, trade nightly massages before bed!
Massage not only reduces stress, releases tension and promotes relaxation (which all aid quality sleep), but it also gives you and your spouse some quality time together (bonus!).
If you’re not married, consider looking into a massage therapist, they’ll often times offer sales or first time incentives. Sometimes you can find great deals on Groupons or at massage therapy schools.
Has anyone ever not loved a massage? If you have essential oils, grab a relaxing oil and enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy as well.
There is a wonderful synergy blend from Plant Therapy with oils of Lavender, Mandarin, Ylang Ylang, Valerian and Neroli. This blend was specifically created to help calm your mind and body into relaxation before sleep.
8. Consider cod liver oil
This last tip is an optional one as my goal was for this healthy change to be free of cost.
Fermented cod liver oil is one supplement that I would recommend because of the wide variety of health benefits. Since cod liver oil has fat soluble vitamins A, D and K (plus Omega-3s), it is great for promoting hormone production and improving sleep (the two go hand-in-hand). When taking cod liver oil in combination with a high vitamin butter oil, you have a synergistic effect that helps your body better utilize each individual component. After researching many different brands, we have taking Green Pastures for years with great results but most recently switched to NutraPro because it offers the same great results but is MUCH more palatable with no fishy aftertaste.
- Our family chooses to use Plant Therapy for their high quality, pure, therapeutic grade essential oils, offered at affordable prices. For $10 off your first order (first time customers only), click through our Plant Therapy link in the sidebar and use promo code: signup10.