A Better Night’s Sleep
A Better Night’s Sleep
NATURAL & ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES TO HELP YOU SLEEP
Did you know sleep is a key factor in our health and aging? Deep sleep is in fact the most efficient way to improve our physical and mental wellbeing. Restorative, nourishing, deep sleep is essential for experiencing clarity of mind, optimism, vitality and energy, allowing us to achieve balanced fulfillment during our day. 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night is what is considered a good night’s sleep, which is uninterrupted with extended periods of deep sleep (REM). Today, 30% of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep a night consistently.
There are many factors that can inhibit our sleep, stress and anxiety are both key issues in effecting our ability to sleep well. Anxiety is the #1 health issue today; its effect can be felt on multiple levels, insomnia being one that is very prevalent. The brain simply doesn’t know whether to choose relaxation or arousal/stimulation. “More than 75% of all physician office visits are for stress related ailments and complaints.” – Miami Herald How can we reduce stress and anxiety in our lives? We can attain a better night’s sleep through stress and anxiety reduction techniques attained through meditation practice, breathing techniques, mantra/healing affirmations and through dietary and herbal remedies, including essential oils.
Meditation has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Meditation is one of the best ways to eliminate excess energies, where base emotions are transcended, allowing the meditator to recharge, achieve replenishment and revitalization each day. Whether practiced for 3 minutes a day or 30, the benefits of meditation are ours for the taking, by simply sitting in silence, being still in the present moment. One of the simplest ways to practice is to breathe deeply, breathing in while thinking “I am” and breathing out while thinking “relaxed.” MRI scans show after 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation practice the brain’s fight or flight center, the amygdala, appears to shrink. The primal region associated with fear and emotion.” Scientific America
Some natural and alternative approaches that can be helpful for a better night’s sleep include dietary and herbal supplements such as: magnesium, melatonin, 5-HTP, turmeric, tart cherry juice, bananas and better water intake (½ your body weight in ounces daily). Avoiding excess sweets and caffeine is also very beneficial in aiding the body’s stress response and ability to achieve better sleep. Additionally, adaptogenic herbs can help the body adapt to stressful situations and maintain normal function when under mental or physical stress. One of the easiest approaches for better sleep, yet can also be the most difficult for many, is to reduce our exposure to bright light at least 1 hour prior to retiring for bed and yes, this does include without a doubt our televisions, smart phones, tablets and computers.
For a restful night’s sleep I like to apply 1 drop of lavender oil with carrier oil to the bottoms of my feet before retiring. Or I use a calming blend of 3-4 drops each of lavender, marjoram, roman chamomile, ylang-ylang and sandalwood diffused into the air.
Sleep well and be well!
Deborah Michael, ND
Mariposa Home and Health Transformation, LLC
***Disclaimer of Information and content: The content of Mariposa Home & Health Transformation and Deborah Michael, ND website is for information and education purposes only and is not meant to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. The information herein does not constitute the rendering of medical or rehabilitative advice or the provision of treatment or treatment recommendations.
Natural Sleep Approaches:
Natural Sleep Approaches:
- Magnesium - research indicates magnesium can improve sleep quality; especially in people with poor sleep patterns. Insomnia is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency.
- Melatonin/5-HTP- I prefer taking 5-HTP over melatonin, as melatonin is a natural occurring hormone and long term supplementation may alter the body’s ability to produce sufficient amounts on its own. 5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates appetite, mood and sleep. 5-HTP is converted to serotonin and this is then converted to melatonin by the pineal gland, inducing sleep.
- Turmeric – has been shown to help the liver detoxify, ease the digestive system and boost the immune system, all of which can help one get to sleep faster, sleep well and wake feeling refreshed.
- Tart Cherry Juice – is naturally rich in melatonin. I drink 2 oz. prior to going to bed at night. Keep in mind some varieties add substantial amounts of sugar, so I look for an unsweetened variety.
- Water - better hydration of the body can make the nerves feel calmer and help one sleep more soundly. Dehydration has been linked with increased anxiety levels, so I drink plenty of water when under stress and in the summer heat. Ideally, I consume ½ my body weight in ounces of water daily.
- Low Light – making sure our brain isn’t overstimulated by bright light (this includes television, smart phones and tablets/computers) at least 1 hour prior to retiring to bed can improve sleep. Bright light inhibits the ability to produce melatonin.
- Essential Oils – for a restful night’s sleep I apply 1 drop of lavender oil with carrier oil to the bottoms of my feet. Or a calming blend of 3-4 drops each of lavender, Marjoram, Roman Chamomile, Ylang-Ylang and Sandalwood diffused into the air.
- Bananas- can help promote sleep because they contain the natural muscle relaxants magnesium and potassium. I eat ½ a banana prior to going to bed at night.