Friday, October 10, 2014

STRIPPED: A GUIDE TO A BETTER NIGHT'S SLEEP


It's the start of the holiday weekend and I am ready to sleep in + hoard some zzz's . . . 
Sleep affects more aspects of our lives than we know or would like for it to—it makes our day-to-day either a grind or a stroll, gives us a dewy glow or the sunken weight of sleep to carry around. Here are some tips, tricks, + secrets to stabilise your sleep schedule this weekend. Here's to feed your brain tissues, rev up nocturnal rejuvenation, + tranquilize you into deep sleep . . .

Good night nerves, good night brain, good night worries . . .

PREPARE
There are a multitude of steps that you can take during the day to ensure a good night's sleep. Exercising for at least half an hour—anything from a brisk walk outside to yoga or a two-mile run—oxygenates your cells, stimulates neurotransmitters, and increases mental + blood flow. It pumps your body up with life + shakes off the dust of accumulated stress. It's best to exercise in the morning or afternoon; the more energy you expend during the day, the sleepier you will feel when bedtime rolls around. For a dose of sleepy, stress-easing exercises in the evening, try night-capping yoga postures before bed. Stretching out muscles slows down our often tense + shallow breathing patters that hinder sleep. Some postures I love for a deep slumber are salamba sarvangasana, viparita karani, paschimottana, + uttanasana.

IDENTIFY
There are many reasons why people have a difficult time falling or staying asleep. If you find yourself struggling with this issue more often than not, there are some questions you should ask yourself before you reach for a sleeping aid. 

A crucial factor in your sleep that you can check is the quality of your mattress and pillow—are they too soft, too firm, or uncomfortable? Pillows should be washed every three to six months since they can accumulate dust, allergens, + other toxins that can interfere with your sleep. They should be renewed every other year or so. If you cannot renew your mattress—as most people living in a dorm during college cannot—consider a mattress pad to lend extra support for your spine, easing your body for sleep. A session or two with an Osteopathic physician can also assist in spinal discomfort through manipulative therapy, which some people find to be a life-changing sleep-aid.

AVOID
Try avoiding stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine, + sugar—yes, even natural fruit sugars—close to bedtime. This is a given challenge to the milk + cookie munchers, but eating one to three hours before bedtime will critically decrease the quality + length of your sleep. It also will not allow your organs, cells, + brain to detoxify, rest, + renew themselves as they will be too busy digesting. Try some organic herbal teas such as chamomile, night night valerian, or rooibos for some slumber sips.



UNPLUG
Another thing to avoid too close to bedtime—which may also be the hardest thing to do on the list—is avoiding mentally-stimulating activities such as reading, watching T.V., and using electronic devices. Try to unplug at least thirty minutes before bed + indulge your senses. Take a warm shower. If you can take a bath, soak in some magnesium flakes, which is one of my go-to solutions to unwind my muscles + mind in preparation for sleep. Aromatherapy in the form of essential oils such as roman chamomile or lavender as well as air-purifying organic beeswax candles are such luxurious little treats. Nourish yourself.

ORDER
I sleep so much better and have a much more relaxed morning when I get the next day in order before I crawl into bed. Much like many other people, I find my heart racing alongside worries from time to time as I lay my head onto my pillow. Having the morning's items set the night before allows me to feel like I am already one step ahead for the new day; almost as assuring + peaceful as having your hair pet to sleep . . . 

Those who have lived with me also know my discomfort surrounding going to bed with an unspoken difficult conversation or an unsolved issue. Solving these discords during the day will allow you to drift off to sleep with a calm subconscious + a clear heart.

UTILISE
Set the tone for sleep in your bedroom by turning off all lights + drawing down the blinds to ensure it is as dark as possible. I used to somehow be oddly uncomfortable about pitch black rooms at night, but it is now a must for me. Other things that help are using earplugs and/or an eye mask. I love this silk + linen handmade one from none other than Etsy. These two are life-savers for light-sleepers such as myself

AID
There are some great natural sleep-aids that are sure to replace the toxic + dependance-forming generics out on the market. Most people do tout melatonin supplements, but melatonin is a hormone and, over time, can cause unwanted irregularities in some people. Some safe herbs that I take instead are valerian, skullcap, schisandra, passionflower, + my current favourite, rhodiola.





photo courtesy of Sleepy Jones