The Power of Ritual: Sleep is a Superfood

There is no mistaking how frustrating it can be when you aren't sleeping well.

You can't focus, the obvious bags under the eyes, your skin lacks luster and you're easily irritated with even the smallest things.

It’s during these times, the tendency to lean on sugar and caffeine for that jolt to be alert and productive is sometimes the highest. The cycle begins and in return maybe a cold or flu strikes– the body simply can't cope without sleep. Research continues to show us that sleep quality has significant impacts on our general health and quality of life. So it's no wonder that ongoing sleep deficiency can increase risks for chronic health problems.

Good sleep patterns are crucial for supporting healthy brain function and maintaining physical health. The immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. Restful sleep is an essential time for the body to heal and can truly enhance your day-to-day activities.

Here are a five tips to establish healthy sleep habits for a good night's rest.

  1.  Limit exposure to screen time before bed. 

The light from your electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and televisions emit a blue light that suppresses melatonin–your sleep inducing hormone. It's basically telling your body, "hey, it's day time let's get to work!" Reducing your exposure to this light 30 minutes to an hour before bed can help maintain healthy circadian rhythms. 

And... responding to emails, texting and late night working is increasing your cortisol levels. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that we need to survive. It prepares the body for the "fight or flight" and responds to stress. At night we are supposed to be in "rest and digest" mode where our cortisol levels are at their lowest. 

Try this: Put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode and keep it a good distance away from your while you sleep (BTW it's a good idea to rest away from radiation.)  Try this FREE app F.lux that reduces the blue light on your laptop. For cellphones you can alter the lighting by using the Nightshift display in your Display & Brightness settings. 

  1. Herbs = natural relief.

Herbs are a natural way to promote rest and relaxation. Taking drugs with negative side effects and even taking melatonin, which your body already produces, can have wreak havoc on your adrenals with long term use. Skullcap, Ashwagandha, California Poppy, Lavender, Chamomile, Passionflower and Valerian are great classic herbs to enhance sleep and aid restlessness. Note: Valerian does have the opposite effect on some people so test with small dosages.

Try this: Try our STEEP –> DREAM Restful Sleep Tea before bed. 

     3.  Train your body to rest…and to wake.

Going to bed and waking up at the same times every day will create a more natural rhythm. You may find that you feel more alert upon waking and that your time management is more effective.

Try this:  iPhone has a Bedtime Mode in your clock settings where you can set up bedtime reminders depending on the number of hours of sleep you want. It also has better alarms that are more pleasant for waking up. There are a lot of bedtime reminding and sleep analysis apps out there for all cell phone types.

     4. Don’t eat before bed.

No one sleeps well with a full tummy. Give your digestive system some time to process before going to sleep. If you have blood sugar issues or a tendency to wake up in the middle of the night hungry, have a small snack before bed. Try ½ banana with almond butter, scoop of coconut butter, cup of bone broth or glass of warm milk of choice.

Try this: Have your last meal completed 2 hours before going to bed.

  1. Develop relaxing evening rituals.

Create some healthy routines to unwind and relax from your day and prepare yourself for bed. Reading (a book or magazine to avoid screen time), a warm bath, journaling, breathing exercises and meditation are enjoyable practices to calm your nervous system and quiet your mind.

Try this: Gratitude list.  Heard this before? I know..but It’s really a wonderful way to close out your day! You can write it down, share it with a loved one or simply think of it. Make note of 3-5 things that happened that day that you are thankful for. It can help you focus on the positive and relieve your mind of all that unnecessary chatter. 

Good quality sleep evokes clarity, creativity, productivity, physical strength and stamina. It may seem obvious, but it something that is easily (and commonly) overlooked. Don't underestimate the value of sleep. 

It's time to step up your sleep game!

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