Scary things happen when we don’t get enough sleep. From daytime drowsiness and weakened memory to physical strain on the body (“beauty sleep” is more than just looking youthful), the effects of reduced sleep are not insubstantial. Without adequate sleep, decision-making capabilities and our emotional IQ can get derailed, not to mention, I don’t want to walk around like a zombie each day, and I’m (fairly) sure you don’t either! It’s time to take some serious steps toward achieving that night of “sleeping like a baby.”
How We Harm Our Sleep
You’re not doing yourself any good if you’re checking emails or sending tweets when you should be sleeping. All of that stimulation wakes up your brain and pushes you further from a relaxed state, essentially blocking the effects of adenosine, one of the sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain.
“But wait,” you say. “I’m just using my phone as an alarm. No harm there, right?” Unfortunately, wrong. As the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says, all of this artificial light enters the retina and interferes with the release of melatonin, another sleepy time hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm.
Then there’s food. What you eat and drink can either lead to more restful sleep or head in the opposite direction. Caffeine, alcohol and fatty or spicy foods are some of the items on the “no-no” list and should be avoided in the hours just before sleep.
Ways to Attain Good Sleep
Another busy day has come to a close, and you can now give yourself permission to do… nothing. Well, nothing stressful at least. I look forward to crawling into bed and reading an actual book (skip the e-books!) for at least 20 minutes each night.
Smartphones and television screens have long since been turned off, and curtains are keeping the room dark and sleep-inducing.
Perhaps a bit of relaxing music is setting the mind-quieting mood even further. There’s a reason you get drowsy at the spa!
Speaking of which, you can also try the following spa-like ways to help you relax:
Lavender is by far the most common essential oil used for relaxation. Diffuse it to enjoy it’s calming benefits. Many other oils need to be diluted, usually 5-8 drops in a tablespoon-sized amount of another oil, such as jojoba or argan, but lavender can be rubbed directly into the skin for quick absorption. Apart from lavender, you could try oils like chamomile, ylang ylang, rose, angelica, geranium and more.
Any other tea drinkers out there? If you prefer the warmth of tea, you can turn to herbal teas for relaxation as well. Lavender and valerian teas are plentiful, as are chamomile, one of the most popular teas for sleep.
And last, but probably most important:
Many find journaling to be a helpful way to wind down for the night, but how about ending the day on a positive note? Jot down a few things you’re grateful for and meditate on the good thoughts for a few minutes before bed, and studies show sleep improvement will take place!
Try various combinations – what works for you?