Sleep problems have become a major issue in today’s society. Our world is so fast-paced and we are plagued with chronic stress that makes it difficult to wind down at night. We live in an over-stimulated world in which we rushing from place to place and attached to electronic devices during our waking hours. With our minds being bombarded with so much information and having to-do lists a mile long, it’s difficult to sleep well at night.
I hear some people say, “I don’t require a lot of sleep. I sleep four hours a night and I’m good.” Well, I hate break it to you, but that is not okay. Your body needs a good 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Otherwise, it’s not going to function as well as it could and should. Your immune system will suffer, and eventually other organs and body systems will suffer too. If you’re someone who doesn’t think you need much sleep, it’s probably because you’ve forgotten how good you could feel if you did prioritize sleep.
Here are just a few things sleep deprivation results in:
- decreased insulin sensitivity
- increased cortisol
- increased adrenaline
- increased inflammation
- increased neurotoxins
- down regulation of D2/D3
- decreased endorphins
- decreased serotonin
- brain atrophy
What does all of this mean? It means that you’re setting yourself up for chronic illness. Prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to adrenal burnout, digestive issues, gut infections, chronic illness, inflammation, mood disorders, and brain atrophy.
If you’re one of the many people who can’t fall asleep, you wake up in the middle of the night, or you don’t feel rested in the morning, then I want to offer 5 natural solutions for a restful night’s sleep.
Make sure you get the right balance of protein, carbs, and fats throughout the day and especially at dinner. You need adequate protein for neurotransmitter production which plays a role in sleep.
If you’re someone who wakes up at 3 or 4am, then that is likely a low blood sugar issue that may be caused by HPA axis dysfunction (adrenal fatigue). Try increasing your intake of healthy carbs at night. That doesn’t mean load up on bread, cookies, and cereal. Rather, include more starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, winter squash, parsnips, and carrots. Or have a handful of nuts or a spoonful of nut butter before bed.
Limit screen time
Often times one of the main reasons you have a hard time falling asleep is because your mind is racing. A busy day with a lot of obligations, emails, meetings, etc. can cause your mind to be over-stimulated. To calm your mind before bed, turn off your screens 1-2 hours before bedtime. That includes your computer, tablet, phone, and TV. All of these vehicles stimulate the mind, whether you’re watching the news, browsing social media, doing research, sending emails, or texting your friends. In place of screen time before bed, implement the stress-management suggestions below.
Stress is usually the main cause of poor sleep. Therefore, implementing stress-management activities daily and making them a priority is critical. Some suggestions include yoga, deep breathing, walks in nature, journaling, prayer, meditation, and epsom salt baths. Try doing a couple of these throughout the day. You can take 3-5 minute breaks during your day to practice deep breathing. Go on a walk outside over your lunch break. Stress management activities are also a great thing to do at night to help your mind and body wind down. Take an epsom salt bath before bed. Or meditate in quiet environment. Have a gratitude journal on your nightstand where you can write down 3 things you’re grateful for.
We all know the importance of physical activity for our physical health, but it’s incredibly beneficial for your mental and emotional health too. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress and support neurotransmitter production, like serotonin. Try to fit in 30 minutes of movement most days. It doesn’t have to be super intense exercise either. Consider restorative yoga, walking outside, or lifting light weights. Since exercise usually energizes your body, try exercising earlier in the day rather than before bed.
Essential oils can support sleep and the activities above in amazing ways. Essential oils are generally classified as calming or uplifting. Many oils have calming properties that help reduce stress, worry, and anxious thoughts. They can be great natural sleep support at night by diffusing oils in your bedroom, applying them to the bottom of your feet before bed, or putting a drop on your pillow. Some oils I recommend using to support restful sleep include, Lavender, Serenity restful blend, Vetiver, or Peace blend. All of these pure, therapeutic-grade oils have calming properties that help support a restful night’s sleep.
Ready to dive deeper into essential oil therapy? Grab my free checklist – Essential Oils for a Healthy Gut and Happy Hormones.