Nancy's Health Talk Blog

How to Get Deep, Restorative Sleep and Improve Your Mood

Sunday, January 29, 2017

One of the three main complaints I hear from clients is that they're not getting a good night's sleep. In this hectic day and age, it's not surprising! Just remember that you can't expect to feel good and be healthy without a good night’s sleep. I know that tossing and turning or staring at the ceiling every night can be frustrating and can leave you feeling less than your best. Plus, poor sleep interferes with your hormone balance, appetite control and fat loss.

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Yes, sleep impacts our hormones and, in turn, our hormones impact our sleep. In other words, if we're stressed out, then we produce too much cortisol (the stress hormone), causing us to wake up at 2:00 a.m. and again at 4:00 a.m.

Does this sound familiar? Not only that, but a lack of sleep causes us to wake up in the morning with higher levels of cortisol for the whole day, and that's not good.

Science has proven that when we wake up without enough sleep and high levels of cortisol, this also increases our appetite. It makes us seek out comfort foods or foods we shouldn’t eat, which then leads to an imbalance in our blood sugar levels.

The bottom line is that it's impossible to maintain appetite control and cravings when your hormones are being impacted by a lack of sleep. So, in order to promote a restful night's sleep, let's look at some tips for creating the perfect sleep environment.

Creating the Perfect Sleep Environment: Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

Creating an ideal environment for sleeping is essential for a good night’s rest, and that means cleansing your bedroom of things that can disrupt your sleep.

Following the tips below will help you to release the recuperative and rejuvenating hormones—melatonin and growth hormones—that naturally happen while you sleep.

1. Make your bedroom as dark as possible. Even a small amount of light can cause a decrease in melatonin levels that will affect the amount and quality of sleep and also interfere with weight loss.

2. Don't charge your cell phone in your sleep area. Electromagnetic fields (EMF’s) can disrupt the pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin.

3. Know about box-spring mattresses. The coils in the mattress can act as antennas that draw the energy into you while you're trying to sleep, so consider using other types of mattresses. 

Also, look for organic bedding made from cotton that's free of harmful dyes and toxins. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin. Google "organic mattresses" to find other reputable companies that offer alternatives to box-spring mattresses. 

4. Keep your bedroom a cool temperature—not warm or cold. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside; the bedroom temperature should not be warmer than 70° for sleeping. Our bodies need to keep cool at night to ensure the proper release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. 

Try to go to bed by 10:00/10:30 p.m. every night. Start shutting down the computer and turn the television off about an hour before bed. The adrenal glands, which are our stress glands, recharge and recover between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m., so going to bed before 11:00 p.m. will help to rebuild your adrenal reserves.

5. Avoid drinking alcohol before bedtime. Although drinking alcohol before bedtime may make you feel more relaxed, it will actually make it harder for you to stay asleep and to have restful sleep. Plus, that nightcap before bedtime may cause you to snore more and have night sweats, headaches and insomnia. And, what about the morning after? If you drank too much the night before, you're going to wake up feeling sleep-deprived and more dehydrated.

6. Avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages and foods in the evening. Everyone reacts differently to caffeine, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages by 2:00 p.m. or earlier, if possible. 

New research studies are showing that consuming caffeine even six hours before bedtime can prevent you from receiving a restful night's sleep. And, remember that coffee and other beverages like tea, soda and energy drinks, and even chocolate and ice cream, can contain caffeine.

7. Reset your circadian rhythms. We have an internal body clock that regulates the 24-hour cycle of our biological processes, including sleep. Yes, circadian rhythms determine our sleep patterns. 

But, time zone changes, work schedule shifts, jet lag and other types of changes in our daily routine can disrupt the body's normal circadian rhythm. A great way to reset your circadian rhythms is to simply follow a fixed routine as much as possible. This means going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day. 

Standardizing your sleep schedule will enhance your chances of getting healthy sleep. And, remember that extending your sleeping hours even an hour can throw your circadian rhythms off, so regulate your sleep cycle for better quality sleep.
Now, let’s add a few fun things to your night time ritual:

8. Use Calming Essential Oils – Essential oils like Lavender and Bergamot are rich in linalool and linalyl acetate, compounds that have well-known relaxing properties. These oils can be diffused aromatically in the bedroom to create a calming and peaceful environment, perfect for getting a good night’s sleep. 

They can also be used topically and taken internally to calm the nervous system, promote relaxation, and lead to a restful sleep. Try placing two to four drops of Lavender or Bergamot essential oil in a warm, herbal tea (Chamomile, Lemongrass, etc.), or another favorite uncaffeinated beverage about 30 minutes before going to bed, or add two to four drops of Lavender into an empty capsule and swallow about 30 minutes before bed.

Essential Oils for Sleep and Relaxation: Lavender • Vetiver • Serenity™ Calming Blend • Bergamot • Roman Chamomile

I hope you try some of the tips enjoy all of the health benefits of restful sleep. And, in keeping with the loving theme of February, I wish all of you a very Happy Valentine's Day! 

If you have questions or comments, please share them below!

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