Do you ever wake up feeling less than refreshed after what should have been a good night's sleep? If so, move over! Falling asleep and staying asleep is a widespread problem. Stay tuned, though, there may be a few natural and relaxing strategies you can employ to help set the mood for a good night's snooze. When I first began researching this blog post, I wanted a scientific explanation as to why we need to sleep in the first place. I went digging around for the answer and learned something surprising: Scientists can tell us exactly why we need to eat, drink and move around, but they don't know exactly why sleep is so critical to our survival. The good news is that how you live your day can affect how you sleep at night. For example, your dietary habits, level of exercise, daily stress levels and caffeine or alcohol intake, as well as medications, hormone changes and illness can all affect the quality of your sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, most adults need between seven and eight hours sleep each night. During deep sleep, our bodies restore themselves. Scientists believe during that time, our bodies regenerate and help the healing process such as repairing tissues and releasing hormones. Here are some simple strategies to help you get a good night's sleep.
- Keep regular hours. Over time, this trains your body to sleep and wake close to the same times daily.
- Get regular exercise. It may be best to exercise early in the day since evening exercising may be too energizing for some people.
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening as this can affect sound sleep. (Check back next week for my post all about caffeine.)
- Avoid going to bed on a full stomach; this can cause digestive distress and keep you up at night.
- But don't go to bed really hungry either! Have a light snack if needed: a small glass of warm milk, a little piece of fruit, or a few whole grain crackers.
- Don't drink too much water or other liquids before bed-time as this often requires middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom.
- Keep your diet as healthy as possible with a focus on whole foods - fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, proteins and healthy fats. Avoid junk foods, heavy fried foods, sugary sweets and desserts as these can tax the digestive system.
- Create a natural winding-down period by keeping to quiet activities for a couple of hours before bedtime.
- A small cup of chamomile tea after dinner may help you begin the relaxing process.
- Read a book or listen to soft music.
- Try some gentle yoga stretches.
- Enjoy a warm bath at night. Often, warm water helps relax the muscles from a stressful day.
- Try some comforting and relaxing essential oils, such as lavender and chamomile. A few drops on an eye pillow or cotton ball at night may help you relax into a peaceful sleep.
- You also may enjoy a soothing foot massage with a little lavender oil.
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature. For many people, it's easier to sleep in a cooler temperature. Try using a fan.
- Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable - not too firm or too soft.
- Be sure to keep your bedroom quiet and dark when sleeping.
- Try a natural, safe homeopathic remedy for calming and sleeping. Check with our Whole Body Team Members for recommendations.