Do you fall asleep easily or toss and turn thinking or worrying?
For a long time sleep was a struggle for me. My creative mind would become overactive right when my head hit the pillow. I was tossing and turning, looking at the clock, getting anxious that I was’t asleep yet, knowing I only had ‘x’ amount of hours before needing to get up.
If this sounds familiar, know you are not alone.
Sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our health and wellbeing. During this restful state, fundamental systems activate and relax to release a number of different hormones to support us.
Here are 6 sleep hacks that have helped me master a good nights sleep:
- Mood lighting
It sounds romantic, and it kind of is, but honestly having artificial light at a minimum when the sun goes down is a game changer. Humans have an internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, which means rising and falling with nature is super important.
In out home, we dim all the lights in the evening. There is no screen time at least one hour before bed. This means no TV, Facebook, Instagram or last minute emails.
Blue light has been proven to directly affect our body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for making you feel sleepy, and blue light suppresses the production of this important hormone. We have banned electronics from our bedroom. Our bedroom is reserved for quality sleep and love making, that is it.
- Eating Early Dinners and Early Bed Times
According to Ayurvedic principles, the preferred time for your last meal of the day is before 6.00 p.m. We often have our dinner even earlier, sometimes by 5.00 p.m., and it’s often a light meal and not a heavy one. We leave the heavy meals for lunch.
We do this because the human digestive system also follows the circadian rhythm. Digestion begins to activate as you wake up, peaks and is strongest around midday and slow downs towards the evening.
It does this because our body is getting ready to repair while resting. Having a light meal before bed allows our digestive organs to focus on their other jobs, such as the liver processing all the nutrients you have consumed during the day, eliminating all the toxins you accumulated, as well and releasing the hormones that will benefit our body.
However, the body won’t get a chance to repair if we go to bed too late. According to Ayurvedic, the optimal time slot for growth and repair is from 10.00 p.m. to 2.00 a.m. We try to be in bed by 9.00 p.m. and are sound asleep by 10.00 p.m. If you are a night owl, you’re ripping off your body preforming its natural repair state, which can lead to a range of health concerns over a prolonged time. If you want to learn more about Ayurveda, let me know.
- Essential Oils
Along with mood lighting from our salt lamps, we have our diffusers running in the house with restful oil blends. There are several essential oils that support sleep. Let’s use a common oil like lavender as an example. Basically, lavender works as an anxiolytic (an anxiety reliever). The natural properties within the essential oil increase relaxation and calm, and help bring about sleep. We personally mix a few essential oils together and have created our own sleep blend to diffuse. We also pop a drop on our pillow or rub it onto our chest or feet.
- Brain Dump
If there are things throughout your day that are still on your mind, dump them. Grab a journal and write them down with a possible action. There’s something about the act of writing — physically writing something on paper — that helps us hit the pause button on it. It decreases cognitive arousal and with that you decrease rumination and worry. If you decrease those two things, it makes sense that you’re going to fall asleep faster, because having stuff on your mind is one of the main barriers to falling asleep at night.
I always have a book on my bedside table. Not a kindle or electronic book, an actual paper book. I find that reading just before bed is a mindful task and makes my eyes feel rested and heavy. Sometimes I might read a whole chapter and other nights only one page.
- Deep Breathing
Breathing exercises can be helpful to reduce stress and anxiety, so it make sense to include conscious breathing before bed. When I get into bed, I like to take a few deep belly breaths. This sends a message to my central nervous system, slows down my heart rate, and my mind is activated to calm.
Many people talk about priming your morning to set up your day and yes this is important, but a primed day can only come from a restful sleep. All these tips can be easily implemented on your own to help encourage your body and mind to relax and make sleep easier.
Which hack are you going to bring into your life?