1. Understand that all our activities: nutrition, exercise, work, and even thinking, have a profound impact on our sleep. Take on each aspect of your life with the goal of achieving total wellness in each area. The main goal here is to reduce our stress hormones by balancing our lives.
2. Hydrate well. Here in Sedona it is a dry climate; a good rule is to take half your weight in pounds, and that is the number of ounces on average recommended to drink. For example, if you weigh 140 lbs, drink at least 70 oz of water (9, 8oz glasses) each day. However, don’t drink too much close to bed, or you will be getting up in the middle of night to urinate!
3. Quit coffee and black tea (at least after 3pm), energy drinks and refined sugar and use honey sparingly. The only “good” sweetener is stevia, because it does not spike your blood sugar. Spiking blood sugar with sweets wreaks havoc on your adrenal glands and stress hormones, and can disturb your sleep. If you eat sugar after dinner, or drink too much alcohol, or eat too much fruit, your blood sugar will spike. When blood sugar rises, our bodies release insulin. Insulin is called: “The Fat Storage Hormone.” As insulin clears the sugar from our bloodstreams, and stores it as fat, our blood sugar drops. As our blood sugar drops, our bodies create adrenaline. Adrenaline will spike while we are sleeping and wake us up. So if you have a late night snack, eat something like cashews, or almonds so as to not spike your blood sugar.
4. Balance your eating patterns. Ideally, you need to have 3 meals a day with adequate protein and snack in between on seeds and nuts, kale chips, or berries. Use fruit sparingly in the evening, if at all. Remember, if you don’t eat for more than 5 hours in the day, your blood sugar drops, you release adrenaline and feel stress…which disturbs your sleep.
5. Get your daily exercise. Activities like walking, swimming, qigong, tai chi or working out at the gym, will burn off stress hormones, increase endorphins and lead to a deeper night’s sleep. If you are having sleep issues, do exercise in the morning, and if you suffer from restless legs too, do some light exercise before sleep time.
6. Think long term. In other words, the natural approach to sleep is not about taking a pill. It is a lifestyle that creates the habits that restore deep sleep.
7. Have a ritual. About an hour before bed, begin your preparation for sleep. Take a warm bath with aromatherapy (lavender is good for sleep) and Epsom salts. Put on your most comfortable pajamas. Don’t use electronics for at least an hour before bed. Read only spiritually uplifting things or listen to music in a dimly lit room.
8. Address your bedding and bedroom. If you have an uncomfortable pillow, buy a new one that works. Use comfortable clean sheets and get your bedding right so that your temperature during sleep is comfortable. A poor night’s sleep is often due to getting too hot under a down comforter. If your mattress is very old or not supportive, get a new one. Also, make sure your room is as dark as possible. The darker the room is, the more melatonin you will make, and the more relaxed you will become.
9. Try Acupuncture and Chinese medicinal herbs. Chinese medicine can work wonders for sleep, much better than just taking melatonin or prescription drugs. Seek out a qualified acupuncturist and go through a series of treatments to help restore a full night’s sleep. If you would like a free consultation with me about your sleep, simply call: (928) 204-0595.
10. Say no to stress. Use times that you awaken for prayer and meditation. Develop a meditation practice or a stress reduction program and develop the ability to relax at will. If you wake up at night and cannot sleep, use that time for deep relaxation, meditation or another spiritual practice like prayer. Sleepless nights can present great opportunities for spiritual growth and for practicing relaxation. By balancing your nutrition, your water intake, your activity and exercise with a stress reduction program, you can achieve deep, replenishing sleep in your life at any age.