Wondering how to improve your health? Your finances? Your looks?
Get some sleep.
Sleep is 20 percent of our lives, yet most of us barely understand the fundamentals. Instead, we’ re consumed with a culture that tells us that the answers to happiness lie in retail therapy, gyms, diets, fitness classes, creams, facials and an endless stream of new fads.
The real answer lies in your bedroom.
Among scientists and wellness experts around the globe, there is growing understanding that proper sleep and good sleep hygiene, are the answers to any number of human ailments. People who sleep well are healthier, better looking and achieve more.
With this in mind, we have devised a list of suggestions meant to help you clean up your sleep routine and delve into a world of deep restorative sleep, with all the good things it brings!
Our sleep/wake cycle is largely dictated by the night’s silent hero: Melatonin, a chemical produced by our pineal gland, and largely in charge of our sleep, mood, immune function and circadian rhythms. Melatonin is vital to the quality and quantity of our sleep, and – if that isn’t enough – it also functions as a powerful anti-aging agent because of its role in suppressing cortisol production. In other words, it’s proper function is key in keeping us feeling and looking great. That being said, melatonin production is triggered by darkness and inhibited by light – which is where it gets complicated…
Our urban lives are saturated with artificial light night and day - specifically blue light emitted by our screens – which suppress the body’s melatonin production and confuse our natural cycles. This can make it much harder to deactivate the mind and body come bedtime, resulting in difficulties falling and staying asleep, as well as lowering the quality of our sleep. Now a days, experts suggest putting down your screens about two hours before bed to allow for proper melatonin secretion to take place, and its effects to kick in. We encourage you to go all out and dim the lights to “set the mood”, as it were. A soft light and a good book are the perfect vehicles to ease into sleepy time.
Give yourself time to digest
We’re all for a good wine and dine fest any day of the week, but on all the other days, try to eat a couple of hours before you plan to go to bed, eat light, and avoid overindulging in alcohol and/or other recreational substances close to bed time. Digestion takes a lot of your body’s energy and metabolism slows before bed time, so you run the risk of interrupted sleep, indigestion, and weight gain. As for recreational substances, most of them impede your accessing the deeper stages of sleep and benefitting from true restorative rest. Instead, try having a warm herbal tea to calm and soothe as you transition into your sleep. Some of our favorites include chamomile, lemon balm, and nettle.
Stick to your bedtime!
As creatures of habit, we benefit from routine. Going to sleep at the same time every night has many recorded benefits: better cognitive performance, stronger immune system, faster metabolism, less mood swings, better sleep, and easier time falling asleep – to name a few. Research also shows that our naturally occurring melatonin rates are highest around 9pm, resulting in better quality deep sleep.
Create a ritual
Sleep is important, we know this. It is a magical time in which many wonderful things happen to your body and mind. So, treat it as such. Give it the space and recognition it deserves and create bedtime rituals that honor this transitional moment and all it implies. Take some time to stretch out before bed, practice, some breathing rituals, journal about your day and manifest desires for the days to follow, end your waking day giving thanks, or design some pre-sleep rituals that resonate with you.