“Sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our body together.” – Thomas Dekker, Elizabethan Poet.
What a beautiful sentiment in expressing just how important sleep is in maintaining health. Sleep, that third part of the day where we repair and rejuvenate from all of the damage we did while being awake and metabolically active.
Beauty sleep is not just for models, we all need it, and decreased sleep is associated with increased aging. For those that are plagued with insomnia, I feel your struggle as I too have a history of disruptive sleep.
During my search in finding ways to get to sleep easily, I have discovered some very simple and natural ways to concur the dreaded curse of sleeplessness.
One major consideration to take note of is the stimulus. Historically, we would sleep more in the winter and less in the summer, simply because it got dark earlier in the winter. When night falls, and it gets dark outside, be conscious of the fact that you might be staying awake beyond what your body needs.
When you do go to sleep, make sure it is as dark as possible. The main hormone that regulates our sleep is melatonin, which is only converted by the body in the absence of light and complete darkness.
Also, try to establish a soothing pre-sleep routine, and ease the transition from being awake to going to sleep. Studies have shown that the rise and fall of body temperature can promote drowsiness; try to take a night-time bath or shower before bed. Be sure to plan a relaxing routine in the last 30-60 minutes before going to bed. You could try meditating for 15 minutes followed by drinking a cup of chamomile tea, while reading.
Any strenuous or stressful activities before bed should be avoided, such as discussing emotional issues, as this can cause the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with heightened alertness.
You should also be conscious about what you eat and drink. Your daytime eating habits play a vital role in how well you sleep, particularly in the hours closer to your bedtime. Try to limit your caffeine intake; it’s no surprise that caffeine can keep you awake, but did you know that can impact your sleep ten to twelve hours after drinking it?
Also, try to be careful of consuming heavy, rich foods within the two hours before bed. If you do need a bedtime snack try half a turkey sandwich, a small bowl of whole-grain, low-sugar cereal, granola with milk or yoghurt or a banana.
Try giving some of these tips a go and give them a chance to have an impact. For most, achieving good restful sleep should improve through consistency. If you have any other tips to improving sleep, I’d love to hear them! Feel free to share them in the comments below.