By Nadia Charles, Guest Blogger
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's article, "Why Is Sleep Important?", sleep helps maintain healthy brain function and emotional well-being and it serves a role in physical health, as well as ensuring one is able to function and be alert during waking hours. People who are sleep deprived may experience immediate, potentially devastating consequences such as driving accidents due to fatigue, or experience issues that build up over time, yet are no less devastating such as heart disease or diabetes. We've all heard the term “beauty sleep” and according to WebMD’s article, "Are You Getting Enough Beauty Sleep?” it's a real thing. Sleep is a natural restorative, renewing and repairing agent which, along with exercise and a healthy diet, can help reduce stress and signs of aging. It's common knowledge that an adult requires seven to eight hours of sleep, however, for many of us, that's easier said than done! Life demands a lot out of us, from career to child-rearing to social engagements. While there are many articles available online and in print on the subject of sleep, the focus of this article is to provide suggestions on how to achieve a state of relaxation, which we'd all agree is a requirement for sleep.
Avoid Stimulants Before Bed
What we eat or drink as well as how much of it we consume can affect our body’s ability to achieve rest and stay at rest. Caffeine, while it may not affect some people’s ability to fall asleep, will mean more bathroom breaks as your body eliminates the stimulant. Frequent waking will disturb the sleep cycle leading to daytime drowsiness. WebMD’s article, “Alcohol and a Good Night’s Sleep Don’t Mix” features experts attesting that alcohol may help induce sleep but is actually more disruptive later in the sleep cycle. Consuming too much food, regardless of the hour can be taxing on the digestive system and will make for an uncomfortable night’s rest and may cause nightmares.
Journal/Create a Daily Action Plan
Many people suffer from an inability to fall asleep right away, even if they are tired. Rapid fire thoughts zip through the mind in quick succession as the brain reviews, analyzes and files away the day’s experiences. The brain is always processing information but it’s only when we are quiet that we become acutely aware of it. For some people, this process might be so tiring in and of itself, that it can put them to sleep. For others, though, it can be very frustrating. A couple of ways to help calm these thoughts are by journaling about them or creating an action plan for the next day.
Turn Off the Lights
Ever heard of circadian rhythm? All living things have a circadian clock. In human beings, our clock is regulated by the brain. This internal clock is what allows our brain to signal when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. The thing that makes the clock tick, so to speak, is light. So when it’s light out, we’re awake and when it’s dark out, it’s time to go to sleep. In our modern times, with televisions, cell phones, laptops and backlit alarm clocks, it can sometimes be difficult for our brains to relay the signal for sleep. We can help our circadian clock keep time by reducing the amount of artificial light we expose ourselves to before bed. The suggestions that follow are some things that can be done by candlelight or without any light to help achieve a state of relaxation.
Certain essential oils like Bergamot, Chamomile, Frankincense, Geranium, Jasmine, Lavender, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood, Tangerine, and Ylang Ylang have calming and sedative properties. Create a unique blend and add to an electric diffuser to disperse into the air. Breathe in the aroma and allow the chemical properties of these oils to naturally calm and relax. Note: Do not diffuse more than 15 minutes every couple of hours and do not sleep with a diffuser running. Each diffuser is different and will provide instructions for the number of drops of oil.
Try Deep Breathing
"Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders." Andrew Weil, M.D. Find more deep breathing exercises on Dr. Andrew Weil’s website.
The suggestions contained herein are not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services. If you believe you have any health problem, or if you have any questions regarding your health or a medical condition, you should promptly consult your physician or other healthcare provider.
About the Author, Nadia Charles
After a prestigious eight year career in corporate America, Nadia Charles discovered her purpose was to inspire positive change in the world by helping people transform their pain into their purpose. She is currently a student at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, studying Mind-Body Wellness. Through a combination of life coaching, hypnotherapy and aromatherapy, Nadia hopes to help others heal and live an empowered and fulfilling life.
This article was submitted by Nadia Charles as a part of her Writing for Publication class in the Mind-Body Wellness Diploma program. It is a demonstration of how SWIHA strives to prepare their #greatgraduates to serve in the world in a loving and profitable way.