Getting sleep that restores you and allows you to wake feeling rested is possible!
Sleep that allows you to rest your body and your mind is one of the basic elements of optimal health. It is during sleep that our body expends the energy necessary to do the clean-up work of clearing what has accumulated in our bodies and minds from the previous day. It is also during sleep that memories and thoughts are stored away into more permanent locations in our brains. So, you can imagine that if you do not have ideal sleep, you may suffer from “brain fog”, memory loss, or have difficulty learning new things.
Even a few nights of disrupted sleep has been shown to have numerous consequences that impair our well-being. Within days of getting only 4-5 hours of sleep we can measure changes in your microbiome that deplete your ability to detoxify. It becomes more difficult to control your emotions and your appetite. Your cortisol (your stress hormone) increases, which raises your blood pressure and your blood sugar. Your immune system has a higher work load when you are poorly rested, leading to poor ability to resist illnesses.
So, what can you do if you are among the many people who struggle to enter restful sleep? There are many options and what works best is not the same for each individual. Reaching for sleep-aid medications may not be the best long-term solution for achieving naturally restoring sleep.
Here are some suggestions:
- Get on a regular sleep schedule to set your body into a wake-sleep cycle that makes you sleepy at bedtime. Try to wake at the same time each morning and get to bed at the same night each night. If naps are needed, limit naps to no more than 30-60 minutes.
- Getting exposure to the morning light helps to set your sleep pattern that night. Ideally, you would get 20 minutes of sunlight in the morning, prior to 11 AM. This helps to begin the clock to set your pineal gland to begin increasing your melatonin level about 12-14 hours later.
- Meditate in the morning for 5-15 minutes to help set yourself up for restful sleep later that night. This could be time spent doing some deep breathing exercises or doing morning devotions or prayers. Just try to avoid immediate thoughts of your to-do list when you first wake. Give yourself a few minutes to set appreciative intentions for your day.
- Avoid electronic screens for one hour or more before bedtime. Use dim lights in the evening, or better yet, keep the lights off in the evenings and just rely on natural light. Bedrooms should be kept as dark as possible with slightly cool temperatures.
- Train yourself to use a deep breathing technique or guided imagery to help yourself fall asleep. It may take a little time to find a technique that feels comfortable for you, but once your brain understands that this type of breathing or this image means ‘go to sleep’, you will be better able to drift off without resistance.
- Keep a paper and pen near your bed to write down your list of to-do’s so that your mind does not need to keep repeating the list. Simply write it down and let it go. You can then read your list in the morning.
At Root Function Wellness, we discuss sleep at every patient visit because it is so central to empowering your health. We will discuss how you are sleeping now and what might help your sleep to be even better. It may take a little time to reset your body into a pattern of predictable sleep, but it is possible to stop fighting yourself at bedtime!