When was the last time you got a good night’s sleep? Not a “good enough” night’s sleep, but one where you fell into a truly deep slumber for a solid eight hours? If you can’t remember, you’re not alone – roughly 70 million Americans currently suffer from sleep disorders.
Personally, I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night and woke up feeling truly rested. With all the recent studies revealing the importance of sleep on concentration, memory recall, weight loss and the ability to repair cells damaged during the day, this is concerning.
So, I set out on a quest for an optimal night’s sleep. I wanted to know what conscious decisions I could make throughout my day and at bedtime to improve the quality of my sleep. After a lot of research, here’s what I’ve found.
Prepare Your Body:
- Two hours before bed, unwind in a body-temperature bath (98 degrees) in a dimly lit room to help your body start to relax. If you don’t have a tub, try a shower with a soothing body wash, such as Young Living’s Evening Peace & Shower Gel.
- The old wives’ tale of drinking warm milk before bed is based on the fact that it contains tryptophan, the amino acid best known for inducing those post-turkey naps on Thanksgiving. If the thought of drinking warm milk doesn’t appeal to you, try sweetening it with honey or a pinch of nutmeg. Drinking it an hour before bedtime can prepare your body for sleep.
- Valerian root, the leading herb recommended for insomnia, can be purchased at health food stores in capsule form. Unlike over-the-counter sleep aids, Valerian does not cause that awful morning hangover. If you have trouble sleeping, this all-natural sedative may be worth a try.
- Stress and anxiety are two major sleep disruptors. Mentally prepare by doing something you enjoy before bed, such as journaling, meditating, reading a book or even daydreaming to unwind.
Prepare Your Space:
- Create a calming and restful place to sleep by blocking out noise and light. Draw your curtains early and make sure your bedroom is tidy. Spending a few minutes before bed tidying up and preparing for the next day (packing your gym bag, ironing your clothes for work, etc.) will reduce your stress when going to sleep and will also help boost your mood when you wake up (bonus!).
- Meditating or doing a controlled breathing exercise before bed can also help welcome sleep. Put on some relaxing music to help. A great iOS app is “Relax Melodies: Sleep Sounds, White Noise & Fan.” Mix and match the sounds that are most relaxing to you for a personalized sleep mix.
- When it comes to essential oils for sleep and relaxation, lavender is your #1 go-to. Put a sachet of lavender in your pillowcase or spray your sheets and pillowcases with Moonlight + Sage’s Sleep Spray, which is a beautiful blend of lavender and vanilla essential oils and Amethyst crystals.
- Cool air leads to better sleep, so keep your bedroom at a cool 65-68 degrees.
- Speaking of crystals…they make great sleep aids as well. Try keeping Amethyst on your nightstand or use one of the crystals in our Rest + Sleep Crystal Kit (Scolecite is my favorite crystal for lucid dreaming).
Avoid Sleep Deterrents:
- That glass (or two) of wine at night may help you unwind from the day, but it’s also a culprit in keeping you awake during the night. If you have trouble sleeping, try avoiding alcohol in the evenings to see if that helps.
- Sitting in front of a computer all day, then a TV (or other device) all night causes our bodies to stop producing melatonin, a hormone made by the pineal gland (a small gland in the brain). Low melatonin can result in a poor night’s sleep. Rather than taking a melatonin supplement, try turning off all screens a couple hours before bed so your body can naturally produce the hormone and you can get a better night’s sleep. Same holds true for sleeping with the TV on – that blue light can cause your brain to stop producing melatonin even with your eyes closed! If you can’t let go of watching TV at night (I can’t blame you – Game of Thrones is back on!), you can always try blue light blocking glasses to wear after 7pm. Not the most fashionable, but if you’re desperate for a good night’s sleep, you’ll try just about anything! In addition, iPhones have a Night Shift setting that automatically shifts the colors of your display to the warmer end of the color spectrum after dark (go to Settings Displays & Brightness Night Shift).
Now that we’re armed with all this information, let’s see how being more conscious and intentional with our bedtime routines can shift our sleep patterns. Sweet dreams!