Far too often we often forget the major role which lifestyle factors play in regulating our sleep- wake cycle. Popping a pill, sipping on a herbal tea and changes in diet, might not be quite enough to get you snoozing.
While trying to overcome my past sleep disturbances, I found addressing lifestyle is just as important.
You can read about the importance of sleep, causes of insomnia and my top herbs and diet recommendations to support healthy sleep patterns, here. Following on from last weeks sleep post, I wanted to share more tips for you to gain regular, restful shut eye.
Lifestyle Factors for Restful Sleep:
To gain a good night sleep, avoid vigorous exercise late at night. If you are limited to after work movement, instead undertake relaxing exercises and activities such as walking, yoga, stretching, gardening and pilates.
Exercising in the morning, however is an effective natural sleep aid. Naturally increase your Cortisol to support energy production in the morning, by following short but sweet high intensity, short duration movement.
If you have a job that requires long hours of sitting, regularly stand up over the day and go for short walks around your office. Better still, get yourself a stand up desk.
Sunshine and Fresh Air.
During the day, get plenty of fresh air and at least 30 minutes of midday sunshine. Vitamin D (from the sun to skin contact), is crucial for the regulation of sleep hormones. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with daytime sleepiness, compounding the effect of a disturbed nights sleep.
Another benefit from exposure to bright, natural light during the day, is healthy production of the sleep hormone, Melatonin at night.
Enhance a relaxed mindset.
Relaxing exercises before bed, help to switch off overactive brain activity. Try some deep breathing, reading, meditation or listening to gentle music to contribute to a relaxed state and ease getting to sleep.
If your insomnia is due to an active mind, write down tomorrow’s jobs that need completing. This is also an effective time to journal any thoughts from the day.
If you wake through the night, do not check the time, as this only contributes to the anxiety of getting off to sleep. To prevent a started adrenal gland response upon waking, set your alarm to a relaxing tune or song (if you need one at all).
Block the light at night.
Be sure your bedroom is dark, to encourage the production of the sleep hormone, Melatonin. Melatonin is produced by the light sensitive Pineal Gland (at the base of your brain), makes you feel drowzy when exposed to darkness and therefore encourages a deep, restful sleep. Melatonin is also responsible for supporting the immune system to stimulate healing throughout sleep and low levels are a known risk for cancer.
To maximise Melatonin production, avoid turning the light on if you wake through the night. Himalayan salt lamps are an alternative, as they do not stimulate the Pineal gland and therefore upset Melatonin production. Otherwise keep those curtains closed, and wear an eye mask for the deepest sleep.
The blue light from TV, laptop, computer, phone and ipad screens can also disrupt Melatonin production. The flickering lights and fast moving objects are too stimulating for the pineal gland, that needs to prepare to sleep. Avoid exposure within 1 hour before lights out.
Minimise the use of electrical appliances in your bedroom. Residual electricity (even after lights are turned off) circulates through the wires in the walls, which can have a mildly stimulating effect on your body. Instead of keeping a radio clock in your bedroom, swap to a wind up alarm clock, or keep your phone just outside the door, with your alarm on. It works for me!
Removing electromagnetic frequencies (EMF’s) in your bedroom is another important factor when trying to get a decent sleep. The exposure to EMF’s is enough to disrupt the Pineal Gland’s production of Serotonin and Melatonin. According to Dr Joseph Mercola, you can check your bedroom (and home) using a device bought online called a Gauss Meter. The alternative is protect yourself with technology, to reduce EMF exposure. I personally use these products.
Promote calm energy.
The use of one or more of the following crystals can help promote a calm, relaxed energy and therefore a deep, restful sleep.
* White Howlite
You can place crystals in a circle around your bed, under your sheets, pillow, or inside your pillow case.
Retire on time.
Aim to follow a pattern of retiring around the same time each night. This will allow your Pineal gland to balance neurotransmitters and hormones.
Aim to retire no later than 10pm, to allow your adrenals to rest, your gallbladder to dump toxins and your whole body restore and heal. If you are one of the lucky ones who can function on less sleep (around 6-7 hours per night), going to bed by 10pm, will naturally create an earlier rise and a more productive day.
The right temperature.
For the best nights sleep, you should aim for a temperature of 21 degrees celcius in your bedroom. If you are prone to feeling the chill, wear socks to avoid waking through the night.
It is important however, to have a fresh supply of air to your bed room each night. If opening your window creates noise pollution, invest in a pair of ear plugs.
When trying to get a restful night’s sleep, don’t neglect lifestyle factors. Diet and herbal medicine can work wonders for some. However, you should also address areas such as exercise, natural and artificial light exposure, sleep patterns, bedroom noise and temperature to holistically encourage a future full of deep, restful, sound sleep.
Have you found changing any of these lifestyle factors have benefited your sleep patterns?
Love, health and happiness,