When I was a kid, it seemed like I could sleep just about anywhere. My parents were amazed at how quickly I would fall asleep and how deeply I would sleep anytime I was in a vehicle for any length of time. Once asleep, I was out like a light and we used to joke that a tornado could go by and I wouldn’t hear it. Sleep, when I was young, was easy. As I got older, sleep became more difficult. By the time I was 35, I found I was rarely getting a full night’s sleep. I had a terrible time getting myself to fall asleep, and when I did I often would toss and turn, then wake up several times throughout the night. Most nights, if I woke up in the middle of the night, I would immediately start thinking of all the things on my “to do” list and find myself several hours later still trying to fall back to sleep. As a result, I was tired all the time. I found myself turning to caffeine at times for a quick boost and craved sugar in the afternoons. My health suffered and it created a vicious cycle. I desperately needed a good night’s sleep and the temptation was to turn to medical intervention. I needed to make some changes so I could be human again. Here are the steps I took to take my life back and sleep again:
Yes, I know that you’ve probably heard this a million times but there’s a reason nutrition keeps coming up as a key element to solving so many of our problems. Our bodies need optimum nutrition to function properly and that includes rest. When it comes to sleep, here are a few important steps to consider:
- Cut the processed. Processed foods contain little to no nutritional value and also contain lots of sugar and/or salt. This adds stress on the body including stress on the adrenals, liver, and kidneys.
- Sugar. Sweets treats are great on the palate but they are generally digested quickly, causing a short-term boost of energy followed by a crash. Our bodies are thrown into that horrible cycle of highs and lows that will affect our natural ability to relax.
- Magnesium. An estimated 90% of Americans are magnesium deficient. Magnesium aids in stress reduction and rest. Taking a magnesium supplement like Natural Calm right before bed can work wonders not only on sleep but help with other issues like constipation, hypertension, and boost the immune system.
- Don’t eat before bed. During sleep, our bodies are working hard at cleansing, healing, and balancing. We were not designed to efficiently perform both digestion and cleansing at the same time. Some experts recommend not eating anything at least two hours before settling in for the night. If you tend to get those late night food cravings, go for herbal teas or fresh juiced veggies.
I love herbs. They have changed my life and my health in so many ways when I took the time to learn about them and start using them. Herbs have incredible nutritional and medicinal value and our bodies can easily assimilate them. A great herbal tea I use that works wonders comes from Maria Treben’s book: Health through God’s Pharmacy. For a great night’s sleep, try an herbal tea before bed containing cowslip, lavender, St. John’s Wort, Hops cones, and Valerian root. Add some Stinging Nettle for extra nutritional and blood cleansing value.
We have had great success with adding essential oils to our bedtime routine. My daughter especially likes the oils and asks for them every night. We have a diffuser in her room and the master bedroom. Each night she will select the scent she wants for her sleep time that night. Some favorites for sleep include Lavender, RC, Joy, and Dream Catcher (we use primarily Young Living essential oils due to the quality and blends offered, but other brands are good too).
We live in such a technological world and are constantly surrounded by energy from cell phones, computers, tablets, televisions, microwaves, and all the other electrical appliances needed for our “comforts”. These are great, and I wouldn’t want to go without them, but they do add stress to our bodies. Some studies show that by walking outside barefoot for about 10-15 minutes or by using an Earthing Mat, will help balance the body and improve sleep. I saw a big difference in my sleep when I started using an Earthing Mat under my feet while sitting at my computer.
Consequently, turn off those electronics at least two hours before bedtime! You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes mentally and physically!
Try setting up a normal bedtime routine and especially endeavor to go to bed and wake up around the same time each night/morning. I know for many of us that can be a challenge, especially when we have kids…but supporting your natural biorhythms is a must. Even if it’s just for a short time while resetting your body clock, try to develop a regular schedule. Included in that schedule might be a nice warm bath or shower, read a book for a few minutes, and go through your hygiene routine.
Although you wouldn’t think that darkness would make a significant difference in your sleep, studies show that total darkness stimulates the body to produce melatonin, a natural hormone that makes you sleepy. When your body senses light it will produce less melatonin and when it’s dark you will produce more. Light can throw off your body, even if it’s a soft glow from a nightlight, the glowing numbers on your digital clock, or the light coming from the hallway or bathroom. If you live in the city where there are streetlights, consider getting black-out curtains or wear an eye pillow.
Ok, I know that may seem obvious…but…if you’re not sleeping well, consider your sleeping environment and adjust if needed. Check the room temperature and adjust if possible. For most, a cooler bedroom temperature is more conducive to better sleep. Is your bed and/or pillow in need of some updating? What noise levels are you dealing with and do you need a fan or some other “white noise” to cover up background distractions? Take inventory on anything you may need to change in your sleeping environment to help with your comfort and consequently your sleep quality.
Try some or all of these tips and let us know how they worked for you. Getting a good night’s rest is so crucial to your health so we pray that you find peace and comfort if you are currently struggling. For information on nutrition for better health and sleep, check out www.theLivingFoodsAcademy.com. Be sure to like us of Facebook and share with your friends. They may need a good night’s sleep too! God Bless and sweet dreams!