2017 is definitely the year of better sleep, and more and more we are seeing research that proves that a good night’s sleep is crucial to our overall health and well-being.
I caught up with Certified Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Alanna McGinn to get the low down on how to get better sleep and how nature can help us sleep better!
First, give yourself a sleep cleanse
Practicing proper sleep hygiene, which is a lifestyle and behavioural change to improve our sleep needs to be incorporated. Steps like keeping a consistent bedtime, making sure you are getting on average 7-8 hours of sleep per night and keeping tech out of the bedroom is important, but adding other healthy fundamentals to your sleep cleanse, ones that maybe you never considered, could also help you sleep better.
How Nature Can Help Us Sleep Better
When we are trying to sleep better we can look to nature and our natural environment to help us fall asleep easier at night and get a better quality of sleep.
Use natural light to help you sleep better
Often when we think of sleeping better we focus on bedtime and ways to improve it but did you know that how we wake up in the morning can also help us fall asleep a lot easier.
When we wake up right we are setting the path for our natural 24-hour body clock for the rest of the day. When we keep a consistent wake-up time and allow our body to naturally wake it helps our body build enough drive to sleep throughout the day making falling asleep at night much easier.
The biggest way we can help achieve this is by immersing ourselves in natural light. Opening up the blinds upon waking or getting outside in the fresh air and natural light works well but you can also include a sunrise simulator like the Philips Wake-Up Light. It naturally wakes you up by mimicking the sunrise and it gradually turns the sleep switch off in our brain and allows us to wake up the way our body is naturally intended to.
Let the Earths surface help you sleep well:
Do you notice that when you are at the beach, cottage or camping you tend to sleep better? A big part of that is because we are outside more. Our bodies are meant to come into contact with the earth. Because as a society we are overexposed to positive electrons, from things like Wi-Fi and mobile phone waves having direct contact to the ground gives us a negative grounding charge and allows our electrical energy to balance out.
The theory of Earthing is allowing your body to connect to the Earth’s surface by walking, sitting, or sleeping outside or using a device that can create the same response but while you are inside.
Earthing can be beneficial in:
• Reducing inflammation
• Reducing chronic pain
• Improving sleep
• Lowering stress and promoting calmness
It’s difficult for us to physically get outside sometimes and walk barefoot each day and we’re not sleeping on the ground so now there are Earthing products like mats or bed sheets that you can use within your home. Having direct contact with these products help to balance out your electrical energy and help you sleep better.
Include daily forest bathing
Forest Bathing is a Japanese practice that is known to reduce stress and is simply taking a walk in the forest. Being surrounded by the sights, smells, and sounds of the forest nature can lower one’s cortisol levels (our stress hormone), and also lower blood pressure and anxiety. True Forest Bathing is physically being in the forest but you can incorporate indoor trees, moss terrariums smell and sounds into your bedroom that can mimic this environment. Bring in natural elements like plants, waterfalls, or any touch of nature into your room.
Or you can include a diffuser with essential oils at bedtime as the perfect addition to creating your natural bedtime routine.
Revamp your Bedtime
Incorporating yoga and relaxing poses into your bedtime routine is going to help prepare your body for sleep and reduce stress levels making falling asleep easier. Meditation is also a practice that one can incorporate at bedtime and when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep. Practicing these calming activities before bedtime can help you quiet your mind and bring sleep to you quickly.
Have a bedtime snack?
On average you should eat your last large meal 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. Our body is busy repairing and rebuilding while we sleep and if it’s too busy digesting your big meal it’s unable to do that. There are a few bedtime snacks that you can eat if you are having difficulty falling asleep.
When combining carbohydrate-rich foods and dairy foods it can increase the level of sleep-inducing tryptophan in the blood. So a few perfect late night snacks could be:
• a bowl of sugar-free cereal and milk
• yogurt and crackers
• bread and cheese
While you should avoid fluids at least 2 hours before you go to sleep there are a few relaxing drinks that can help you get to sleep.
• Chamomile Tea – known to reduce anxiety and provide calmness
• Warm Milk and Honey – we don’t know for sure that a warm glass of milk actually helps us sleep better but we do know that it’s a very comforting drink to have before bedtime, perhaps bringing you back to a moment in your childhood. The relaxing sensation it provides itself can encourage sleep.
• Bedtime Banana Bread Tea – the peel of the banana provides many sleep-inducing nutrients like B6, potassium, and magnesium, which aids in muscle relaxation and it has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety. To make your Bedtime Banana Bread Tea boil the banana with the peel still on for 15 minutes and drain it. Add 2-4 drops of walnut oil, which contains tryptophan and melatonin. You can then sip away at your perfect sleep cocktail before you go to bed.
Thanks to Alanna for these great tips.
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