SELF CARE 101: GET BETTER SLEEP
(Including you, Beloved Insomniacs...)
I value sleep. A lot! I struggled with chronic insomnia for more than 10 years and sometimes still do for short periods of time. It's miserable to drag myself through the day after getting only three to four hours of sleep. I can manage with less sleep for a couple days. However, if the insomnia lasts longer...oh, sweet baby Jesus, deliver me! And, regardless of how perky and alert I try to be, after a while, I begin to feel like I've been hit by a bus. Stress, an overactive mind, hormone fluctuations, and the like can wreak havoc on our physical bodies. (Brain fog, depression, irrational thoughts, digestive issues, increased susceptibility to illness and disease...to name a few.) So it's important to take control of our sleep cycle before our cycles start taking control of us.
What Good Sleep Can Do:
- Curb inflammation (which has been linked to heart attack, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis and diabetes)
- Reduce stress
- Improve memory and mood
- Support weight control and muscle mass
- Optimize physical performance…the list goes on.
If you wake up feeling fully rested, energized and ready to face your day, you have gotten a good night’s sleep. If you get out of bed in the morning feeling fatigued, exhausted, and on edge, you could use more shut-eye. If you have trouble sleeping, try creating a sleep plan.
The Magic of a Sleep Plan
I didn't believe that a sleep plan would work for me when my naturopath gave me one a few years ago; it seemed too simple. But it worked, gratefully! A sleep plan trains your body to calibrate for sleep so that you naturally get tired, which is wonderful if your sleep issues are related to stress, and overwork. (For people who have issues related to something more serious, consult your doctor.) There are also things you can do if you wake up in the middle of the night.
Here is an easy to follow sleep plan that can support you. This is what my naturopath shared with me and I threw in a few of my own helpful suggestions. Use any combination (or all) of them to promote a restful night’s sleep!
Establish a bedtime for yourself. Rest comes more easily when our bodies have a set time for rest.
Establish a time to turn off all electronics. (No cheating!) The electromagnetic frequencies emitted from TV’s, computers, routers, and phones can be stimulating and can disrupt our natural rhythm when we are ready to “wind down”. Seriously, turn that shite off.
Take a soak. I recommend Dead Sea salt, Himalayan salt, Epsom salt, magnesium flakes, and baking soda. The heat from the bath water is relaxing. The minerals in the salts are not only relaxing, they're also replenishing to your body and the baking soda can help to clear any energetic sludge you have picked up throughout the day.
Make a cup of tea. Not just any tea, though. I’m a fan of chamomile tea made from whole chamomile buds because it is stronger than premeasured sleep teas. You can find chamomile buds at most natural food stores and at local herb shops. Steep two tablespoons of buds in 16 oz of boiled water for at least 15 minutes and then drink all of it. (Note: the tea gets stronger and more bitter the longer it sits so be careful not to let it steep too long.) If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, have a cup of tea ready to drink on your nightstand.
Breathe deeply. for five minutes when you get into bed. The breath is a natural muscle relaxer, it helps you to get present, and it can also be a great way to help you to shut your mind off.
Use tinctures and essential oils to turn off your brain and chill. These old-school remedies were helpful for me and can help even the most hard-core insomniac to fall asleep.
Tinctures: Take a dropperful every 15 minutes until you fall asleep
- Scullcap helps to slow down the racing mind
- Kava kava helps to ease anxiety.
- California Poppy, Passion Flower, and Valerian Root tinctures are traditionally used for sleep. (Note: Valerian Root doesn’t work for everyone. For some people, this tincture can be stimulating. If it amps you up, don’t use it.)
Essential Oils: Rub them into your feet and relax
Mandarin, Lavender and Marjoram essential oils rubbed on the soles of your feet are also relaxing and sedating. These oils can be reapplied if you wake up and they smell great too! Just an FYI, mix a couple drops of marjoram in a carrier oil before using. It's a strong one!
Rub the soles of your feet together upon getting into bed. This action is comforting, soothing, and relaxing and can be repeated if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night.
Still not falling asleep? check these out:
- Are you getting enough protein in your diet to maintain long term energy? If not, increase your consumption of protein at dinner or keep a cup of nuts at your bedside to snack on if you wake up.
- Are you getting enough Vitamin D? Many people are suffering from a deficiency of Vitamin D. Chat with your doctor to make sure your vitamin D levels are where they should be and increase your levels as needed.
- Are you getting enough magnesium? Many people are also suffering from a deficiency in magnesium. Natural Calm is a great supplement to use during the day and before bedtime.
- Have you gotten your hormones checked? If you're entering perimenopause and are having trouble staying asleep, chances are your hormones or organs could use a little TLC. Check with your doctor or acupuncturist for additional support.
There are other homeopathic and natural remedies available that can support a better night’s rest as well.
As always, I recommend monthly massage appointments for stress reduction and to calm the nervous system, Maya abdominal massage to support hormone balance, and relaxing breathing techniques to help break the pattern of poor sleep.
Book an appointment or call me at 303-325-4150 for a strategy session. Let's get you sleeping!