Restful sleep is vital for your health. During sleep, the body does important work, repairing damage done during the day, cleaning toxins from the brain and internal organs, and making the next day’s supply of hormones. The brain kicks into high gear, processing information absorbed through the day and allowing the subconscious mind to explore thoughts and ideas the conscious mind is too busy to work through during waking hours. While the standard recommendation for adults is an average of seven to nine hours per night, over 40% of Americans get less than then minimum. Lack of sleep, or poor-quality sleep, can have disastrous effects to your body and brain’s health. Documented effects include chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity as well as cognitive impairment, memory loss and inability to focus.
We’ll dive into some more creative ideas in a moment, but first, here are a few foundational options you can work into your routine right now:
- Find a regular sleep schedule and bedtime routine – and stick to it! Going to bed and waking at the same time every day creates a rhythm for your brain and body. Commit to your schedule during the week and do your best on weekends. Include in your schedule a bedtime for your electronic devices, turning them off a half hour before bed. Not only will you begin to find it easier to fall asleep, you’ll benefit from getting a better night’s rest.
- Create a cozy sleep space. Make sure your room is dark, quiet and comfortable. Many people find it difficult to sleep in a cluttered room, since unfinished tasks keep the wheels of the brain spinning, so do your best to keep your sleeping space tidy. Consider keeping your electronic devices turned off or in another room. Consider turning off Wi-Fi when sleeping to minimize EMFS.
- Lower the lights, eliminate lights with a blue tint and consider a pink Himalayan lamp or other lighting with an orange hue. Before the advent of modern lighting, homes were lit dimly at night, since candles and lamp oil were costly and not all that bright to begin with. Many people simply followed the rhythm of the sun. Creating a more dim ambiance and including orange lighting that suggests the setting sun can help your brain release the hormones related to sleep at the right time, easing more readily into sleep.
Now, the juicy part. Here are some approaches that might be new to you. Depending on your needs, they may be powerful solutions.
- Mouth taping – Do you sleep with your mouth open, or do you breathe through your nose? Dentist Mark Burhenne’s blog explains the health benefits of increased time nose breathing during sleep at night. Dr. Burhenne says, “Mouth breathing elevates blood pressure and heart rate, worsens asthma and allergies, and deprives the heart, brain, and other organs of optimal oxygenation.” If you sleep with your mouth open, using tape on your mouth can help keep it closed overnight. There are how-to videos on mouth taping to help you get started. There is also a gel product for those who don’t want to use tape. Take caution in suggesting this option to your significant other – so they don’t take it the wrong way!
- Yoga Nidra – Sometimes known as sleep yoga, yoga nidra is nothing like the typical yoga done in studios and gyms for toning and exercise. Yoga nidra is a guided meditation technique, during which you lie comfortably, close your eyes and follow the directions on the audio track. You will be guided to do some deep breathing and direct your attention to different parts of the body, which helps to calm and focus the mind. While you usually stay awake and aware through the length of the meditation, you end up feel rested, peaceful and recharged. It’s said that 45 minutes of yoga nidra feels like 3 hours of regular sleep. Here’s an intro to the practice and there are many recorded meditations you can find online. Yoganidranetwork.org is a fantastic, free resource with dozens of recorded meditations, including tracks in English, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish. If this idea appeals to you, check out the book Daring to Rest by Karen Brody. Her 40-day challenge can make a real difference in the way you feel. In all its forms, yoga nidra can be done anywhere – in bed at home, in your office chair, in the car before school pick up, in your seat on a plane… you get the idea.
- RightSleep® method vitamin regimen – I was intrigued to read about this program from Dr. Stasha Gominak. She found that during sleep: our bodies go into “repair mode” literally making repairs to body parts; we make the next day’s supply of various chemicals, like hormones and neurotransmitters; and, that vitamins are the building blocks for these repairs. Using a combination of blood tests to determine nutrient levels and deficiencies, tailored supplementation and sleep and health pattern monitoring, Dr. Gominak treats all types of sleep disorders, including apnea and insomnia. By helping improve the duration and quality of sleep, this program may also help improve mood, pain and chronic illness and more. Read more about it here.
Whether you take charge of your sleep or let it take charge of you, the quality and quantity of your daily rest will affect the way you think, feel and heal. Decide today to take a proactive approach and enjoy the benefits!
How is your sleep schedule now and what do you plan to change or implement today? Have you tried any of these methods? Tell me in the comments!