Monday, January 16, 2012
Monday, December 19, 2011
Sleeplessness can lead to imbalances in the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Potential consequences are weakening of the immune system, risk of a variety of chronic illnesses as well as psychological effects, such as memory loss, mood swings and depression. Sleep deprivation may also have a significant impact on one’s life expectancy."
Damn if that ain't enough to convince you to get some quality sleep....what then do you need?!
Here are a few tips to help you get a good night's sleep:
- Exercise....yes! It’s actually known to help you sleep better. Your body uses the sleep period to recover its muscles and joints that have been exercised. Twenty to thirty minutes of exercise every day can help you sleep, but be sure to exercise in the morning or afternoon. Exercise stimulates the body and aerobic activity before bedtime may make falling asleep more difficult...at least that's what I find sometimes.
- Stick to a schedule: Sticking to a schedule allows your body to set its internal rhythm so you can get up at the time you want, consistently, every single day....this I need to work on!
- Taking a hot shower or bath before bed helps bring on sleep because they can relax tense muscles.
- Avoid eating just before bed. Give yourself at least 2 hours from when you eat to when you sleep. This allows for digestion to happen (or at least start) well before you go to sleep so your body can rest well during the night, rather than churning away your food
- Avoid caffeine at night....duh right? Not always easy to remember to do for me when I want to keep going....Mate is just soooo good!!
- Drink an herbal tea blend for sleep...see below.
- Read a book in bed. Not only are you learning alot but you can take your mind away form your own life
- Avoid alcohol before bedtime. It’s a depressant; although it may make it easier to fall asleep, it causes you to wake up during the night. As alcohol is digested your body goes into withdrawal from the alcohol, causing nighttime awakenings and often nightmares for some people and it makes your liver have to focus on that and not all the other stuff it needs to focus on while doing it's job over night
Here is an exercise I find very helpful to practice every evening before bed (I just need to do it more!):
- Lie down in a quiet place and place a glass of water beside you
- Relax the muscles in your body. Go through and consciously relax your legs, butt, abdomen, back, shoulders, arms, neck and face
- Let all the tension of the day subside and bring your attention to your breathing
- Let your inhalation naturally become a little deeper and your exhalation a little longer
- As you take 3 slow breaths imagine your body becomes filled with water, as pure as a mountain stream. Feel the water regenerate all your cells, removing toxins and filling them with vitality
- Bring your attention back to reality and sit up. Slowly drink the glass of water. With each sip taste the water and be aware that the major constituent of your body is water. Be aware that this water is purifying and detoxifying.
- Now go pee before you go to bed!
Herbs for sleep:
Being an herbalist, I have experimented plenty and have worked with many people on a wide variety of issues. One of which is often the sleep issue. Here is a quickie on 2 herbs for sleep, addressing either the mind or the body...but be in touch if you want/need more specifics for YOU! However, nothing should replace the need to get to the root of why you are not sleeping.
Passionflower: One of my personal favorites! Passionflower is great for folks who have trouble with sleep because their brain won't slow down. It helps to reduce some of the brain chatter as well as the anxiety and nervousness that may go along with it.
Valerian Root: Valerian is great for those who's body won't let them sleep. Those whose muscles are ticking away or digestive system is overworking. Valerian helps to reduce the amount of time it takes to slip into a deep sleep.
Sundown and Slowdown: For years I had a medicinal tea business. The teas were available throughout New England and this was one of my best sellers! It is a blend of chamomile, skullcap, passionflower, hope and california poppy. A great blend! And still available in bulk at Healthy Living in Burlington.
For kids having trouble sleep...Lemon Balm is often a great and tasty choice, either as tea or as a glycerite.
So my challenge to you for this week's Daily Practice is to mindful of your sleep!