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Sleeping Your Way to Vibrant Health

Why is it that so many men and women are plagued with insomnia especially after treatment? Is it diet, hormones or stress? Well, it may be all of the above.

Much of our healing happens while we sleep and it’s impossible to have vibrant health if we’re not getting the quality and quantity of sleep that our bodies require. “Sleep is just as important to your health and well-being as exercising and eating well,” says Stuart Quan, M.D., senior physician in the division of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

You may find yourself enjoying a good sound sleep
by making a few changes to your daily routine.

Here are 5 routines you can easily start this week to help you sleep your way to vibrant health:

1 Caffeine Consumption

The first thing to consider is your caffeine consumption whether it’s from coffee, tea, soda or the ever popular energy drinks. There is so much contradictory information about the benefits and dangers of caffeine. Keeping in mind that we’re all unique and “one person’s food is another person’s poison,” it is worth exploring your relationship with caffeine if you’re sleep deprived.

I discovered that just one cup of regular coffee had a big impact on my sleep. At first I resisted the thought of giving my cup of coffee up, but once I did, I learned I was caffeine sensitive, proven by the two weeks of fatigue and headaches I endured during my caffeine detox.Coffee

The quality of my sleep has greatly improved and I feel a greater sense of calm and clarity during the day. Keep in mind that smoking, oral contraceptives and other medications can intensify and prolong the effects of caffeine. At the very least, do not consume caffeinated beverages after mid-morning.

2 Alcohol

If you think having a nightcap can help your ability to get a good night sleep, think again. Research reported in the May 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, stated that women who drank alcohol before bed experienced deepened sleep during the first half of the night but disrupted sleep during the second half. Interestingly, the study showed that women were more affected than men.

If it’s the ritual of the nightcap that you look forward to, try replacing it with a health promoting glass of Kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented drink containing a trace amount alcohol that occurs during the fermentation process.

There is more refreshment and stimulation in a nap, even of the briefest, than in all the alcohol ever distilled. – Edward Lucas

3 Sugar and Sugar Substitutes

Refined carbs and hormones! Refined carbs raise your stress hormone cortisol. What that means for you is a sluggish metabolism, erratic sleep cycle and a decreased sex drive. Sugar substitutes lower the feel good hormone serotonin, which is responsible for improved mood and sleep. It’s just another good reason to stay away from the sweet stuff. If your hormones feel way out of whack and you’re eating well, seek advice from a doctor that is well versed in hormone therapy for cancer survivors.

4 Brain Dump

Do you suffer from monkey mind when your head hits the pillow? The Wikipedia definition of Monkey Mind is a Buddhist term meaning “unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable.” You may concede that this is when you do your best thinking, but it can really get in the way of a restful night sleep.

Have a notepad on your bedside table so you can do a brain dump before you shut out the lights. Write down everything that’s on your mind and that will need your attention the next day. By clearing your mind you can let go of all of the things that you are obsessing about and drift into a peaceful slumber.

5 Exercise

Exercise can actually help you get a good night sleep. If you work out regularly and still struggle, Dr. Virgil Wooten advises, when it comes to having a direct effect on getting a good night’s sleep, it’s vigorous exercise in the late afternoon or early evening that appears most beneficial. That’s because it raises your body temperature above normal a few hours before bed, allowing it to start falling just as you’re getting ready for bed. This decrease in body temperature appears to be a trigger that helps ease you into sleep.

What to do if you still can’t get a good night’s sleep…

  • Assess your Environment

If you’ve cut the caffeine, alcohol, sugar and carbs, have been exercising regularly and doing your brain dump to clear your mind, and a good night sleep is still hit or miss, it may be time to access your sleep environment.

  • Is your bedroom a warm and welcoming sanctuary?
  • Is it clean and clutter free?
  • Does your bed look, feel and smell good?
  • Do you turn off your television, computer and telephone one hour prior to bedtime to decompress!
  • Relaxing Before Bed

Consider creating a quiet and relaxing bed time ritual at the same time each evening. You may want to try:

  • Epsom salt bath with lavender oil
  • Gentle yoga
  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Reading
  • Journaling

Find the calming activity that relaxes you and helps you to transition into a restful sleep. Wishing you a peaceful slumber.

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