Did you know that good sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle? Did you know that lack of sleep can be incredibly harmful to the body and decrease one’s quality of life? Everyone knows that diet and exercise are critical for a healthy lifestyle but equally important and arguably even more so is sleep.
Sleep is important because it is the time our bodies use to physically and mentally repair themselves. Lack of sleep affects nearly every organ in our bodies and has been associated with many health risks. Depriving our bodies of sleep affects our ability to maintain a healthy weight, influences our thoughts and actions, and negatively impacts our cardiovascular health and overall wellbeing.
So now that we know this… what can we do?
- Eat Well and Exercise Regularly– Eating properly and getting plenty of exercise keeps our weight in check, but it also helps with sleep. Avoid eating foods high in carbohydrates; they flood our muscles with glucose, causing involuntary muscle movements during sleep. If you are a night time snacker, try a hand full of nuts. Nuts provide a healthy fat and protein, which are not only satisfying, but are slowly digested. Nuts are also rich in magnesium, a mineral that helps to calm the nervous system. Don’t exercise too close to bedtime as this increases body temperature, ramps up your metabolism and can make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Just Say No to Caffeine, Nicotine, Alcohol and Electronics– All of these can make going to sleep difficult. Avoid bright light at least an hour before going to bed. Remove all electronics, TVs, computers, and other electronic devices from your bedroom. They are a huge temptation and the bright light emanating from them disrupts your body’s ability to naturally produce melatonin. Darkness will help your body begin producing melatonin, a natural hormone that regulates sleep.
- Set your Schedule– Try to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time. Creating a schedule helps regulate your body’s internal clock and may help you sleep better.
- Keep it Cool– Make sure your bedroom is a relaxing environment, which is neither too hot, nor too cold. Your bed and pillows should be comfortable and supportive. If you are experiencing pain in the morning, it may be time for new bedding.
- Shift Gears– Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, the last hour before bed should be spent doing a calming activity such as reading or taking a warm bath.
- Use Essential Oils – There are many essential oils that have well-known relaxing properties. When diffused aromatically in the bedroom you can create a calming and peaceful environment, perfect for getting a good night’s sleep. The right essential oils can also be used topically and taken internally to promote relaxation and calm the nervous system, leading to a restful night’s sleep. (Please be very careful and well educated about your essential oil use)