Sleep is absolutely vital to our well-being. Sleep is so often the first thing to suffer when life gets busy, or we become stressed. How many times have you found yourself up late at night scrambling to get last minute work done, chores done around the house, binge watching Netflix or any number of other things that keep us from our beds. Or you actually get to bed early but then you find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night for no reason and you are unable to fall back to sleep. Whatever category you fall into, whatever the reason, we need to start prioritizing our sleep, tonight!
A good night sleep will increase your productivity and concentration, lower weight gain risk, prevent depression, strengthen your immune system, lower systemic inflammation and more!
Adults need 7+ hours of sleep every night, but here’s the thing quality trumps quantity here. We want deep restful sleep in order to reap all the benefits of sleep, not just 8 unrestful hours in a bed.
Here are some suggestions to consider implementing to increase the quality of your sleep:
Don’t exercise within 2 hours of bedtime. Being active during the day primes the body for a deeper more restful sleep, but timing is important. One study showed that daytime exercise suppressed cortisol levels at night. Cortisol is the hormone that spikes at night waking you up at 3am making it hard to fall back to sleep. Exercising before bed isn’t conducive to sleep because of increased endorphins that may keep you awake.
Consider incorporating an evening yin yoga or a yoga Nidra practise. Experts say that a 30 minute Nidra practise is equivalent to 2 hours of deep sleep, wow!
Go to bed no later than 11:00 p.m. whenever possible because your body creates a cortisol surge after 11 p.m. that keeps you awake, your second wind. Ideally we are going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday, yes that means no sleeping in on the weekends. If we prioritize our sleep we will be waking up feeling rested and won’t need to “catch up” on the weekends anyway.
Try setting an alarm reminder around 9pm to start winding down. During this time, try to avoid bright lights and turn off all electronics. You can use red lights, candle light, or a personal favorite of mine, Himalyan rock lamps! We have a rock lamp in every room of our house, when the sun goes down we use them to light our way around the house. Even five minutes of white light from a screen shuts off your melatonin production for four hours and can wreck the quality of your sleep.
Grab a book, take a bath, journal, practise Nidra, find whatever works for you to help you wind down from your day and get yourself into bed by 10pm.
Sleep in a pitch-black room. Make it as dark as you possibly can. Black out blinds, cover LED light sources from all electronics with black electrical tape. Ideally no electronics in your sleep den at all. The darker the better, like a cave where you can’t even see your hand right in front of your face, kind of dark.
As we sleep, we go through different cycles. When you wake up at the top of your sleep cycle, it feels easy to get out of bed, but when you wake up in the middle of a deep sleep, you’ll feel groggy for hours. Using an app to track your cycle while you sleep can help immensely. Use it as an alarm clock and it will wake you up at the top of a sleep cycle instead of letting your timed alarm jerk you awake when you’re in a deep sleep.
This will leave you feeling more refreshed and awake all day. With IPhones try the app SleepCycle. Always put your phone on airplane mode to avoid EMFs (electromagnetic fields) which can disrupt sleep cycles. To learn more about EMFs check out the book EMF*D by Dr. Joseph Mercola.
If our brain is used to a steady stream of sugar, you can have blood sugar swings at night that can wake you up. Blood sugar crashing causes a surge of cortisol that wakes you up. Having an evening brew with fat, protein and a bit of honey might just be what you need to get your best night sleep.
Try adding 1-2 tablespoons of Bulletproof Brain Octane oil before bedtime, blended into herbal tea as a way to provide fat to the brain for stable energy while you sleep, add some collagen powder for the calming effect from the glycine for a deeper more restful sleep. We also use protein for immune function and muscle repair. Adding collagen also ensures we have what we need to heal at night during deep sleep.
Try adding up to 1 tablespoon of raw honey. After I’m done my evening brew I just dip a tablespoon into my honey and eat it right off the spoon. If you add it to your brew the heat will destroy the magical properties of good quality, local, raw honey.
Try one or all of these suggestions and watch how they transform your sleep quality!