5 Tips for Better Snoozing
10.16.13 5 Tips for Better Snoozing
The late afternoon darkness always sneaks up on me in the fall. As much as I love this season, that's the one thing that disrupts the endless perks of color and flavor, stunning daylight and comfortably cool nights. Instead of staying outside until late, I'm thinking about getting home when the sky turns dark.
And then daylight saving time comes around, allowing us to "fall back" an hour in our schedules and re-set our sleep clocks. The fact that we live in a face-paced environment with our senses always being stimulated tends to affect our nervous system and ultimately takes a toll on getting quality sleep.
We stress out even more when we don't get adequate sleep. Understandably so, because good sleep is essential to our health.
"Sleep is the time when the body does most of its repair work; muscle tissue is rebuilt and restored. We know, for example, that a growth hormone is secreted during sleep. This hormone is important for growth in children, but is also important throughout adulthood in rebuilding tissues," notes Dr. Neil B. Kavey, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in NYC.
So, how to achieve optimal snoozing?
Air: For starters, it's best to keep the room on the chilly side. Try to keep temperatures in the bedroom between 60-65 to encourage the production and release of sleep hormones. Secondly, the work of an air purifier, cleaning the air of various allergens, dust and potential off-gassing toxins and providing an environment for enhanced sleep.
Drink: Many people rely on a warm cup of tea or a warm glass of milk as a bedtime ritual. To relax, unwind and ready yourself for a good night sleep, try out some flavorful drinks.
- Tart cherry juice: A powerful antioxidant critical for sleep-wake cycle regulation. Rich in melatonin and has been shown in this study to have a profound effect on how effectively one sleeps.
- Vanilla: Along with a soothing scent, vanilla has a tranquilizing effect on the brain and known to work against inflammation. Add a drop of vanilla extract to your warm tea. Or make a cherry-vanilla drink.
- Chamomile: Often referred to as "sleep tea," chamomile helps to ssothe and relax the body - one of the active compounds in the chamomile plant is aspigen, thought to reduce locomotor activity...ahhh. The calming sedative effects are also attributed to flavoniods, mucilages and coumarins present in chamomile.
- Lavender: Used for centuries to relax and unwind, more recent research shows that lavender increased slow-wave sleep - the very deep slumber in which the heartbeat slows and the muscles relax. Try a lavender-chamomile tea before bedtime.
- Nutmeg: This powerful spice mimickes the effect of serotonin, which helps you to fall asleep. Add a dash of nutmeg to warm milk and slip into sleep wonderland.
- Honey: The natural sugar found in honey raises our insulin levels slightly allowing the compound tryptophan to enter our brains more easily and making us sleepy. Combine nutmeg and honey in a warm milk for deep relaxation.
Bath: Take a mustard bath! Known to stimulate the sweat glands, opening the pores and helping the body rid itself of toxins, this bath is exactly the remedy if you're in order for a calming and soothing bath (and then straight to bed) night.
Also, try the relaxing and detoxifying lavender bath soak. Made with magnesium - a necessary mineral for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well being and relaxation.
Massage: With the help of certified organic Sleep Balm, you can drift away easily while this lavender based balm does its job to quiet the mind. Just a like a lavender-filled eye pillow calms the nerves, Sleep Balm has an aroma that is like a message to the brain saying, "Ok, go to sleep now." I must admit that I've indulged my daughter in countless sleep balm foot rubs (plus a dab rubbed onto each temple) when she is particularly wired and needs help drifting into sleep. It works!
A few more:
No Stimuli: Keep all electronics (even charging ones) out of the bedroom. Glowing red lights + EMF lights can stop the melatonin levels from rising. Try to get off screens at least an hour before bed to down-shift the mind and relax.
And avoid late night eating. Allowing your body to have a break from working to digest food and concentrate on repairing cells instead is a good thing.
Lastly, Environmental health physicians always recommend that your bedroom be free of as many allergens, electromagnetic fields and synthetic chemicals as possible. Many chemicals found in the bedroom also act as central nervous stimulants!