Even health coaches have a few problems, and I will admit one of mine to you now: falling asleep isn’t always easy for me. Sometimes I lie in bed thinking about the days events and sometimes my mind races with anticipation of what I have to do tomorrow. I’ve always been jealous of my cats’ ability to sleep peacefully anywhere, at anytime with no regard to noises or events going on around them. They have really perfected the art of sleeping and I think we could all learn a thing or two about relaxation from them.
I realize that there are many posts and articles out there in the blogosphere that post tips for getting a good night’s sleep, and the subject of sleep does not exactly fall into the “vegan” category, but it comes up frequently enough with my health coaching clients that I feel it’s important to talk about. Without getting too sciency it, it’s important to know that when we sleep, our bodies are hard at work detoxing, repairing and rebuilding. When we don’t get enough sleep, we’re denying our bodies the time it needs for these functions and we’re compromising our immune systems. Studies have shown that lack of sleep leads to weight gain, and we tend to eat more to fuel our bodies through our waking hours. Studies have also shown that sleep deprivation causes increased levels in cortisol in the body, which means we’re all walking around feeling stressed out. I’m know that more comprehensive articles have been written on how to get a good night’s sleep with scientific reasons as to why this thing works and that doesn’t, but I’m going to share with you some tips that have worked for me.
Give Yourself Downtime
I can’t just stop doing whatever it is I’m doing, hop into bed and fall asleep. I need time to chill before I hit the hay. I’ve found that I need to give myself about an hour of downtime to calm my mind (and body) before I go to bed, so I schedule accordingly.
Certainly not right before bed though! (See tip number 1.) Studies have shown that exercising during the day leads to better sleep at night. I exercise first thing in the morning to give me energy for the day, and to make sure I get it in before I get too busy.
I’m a big user of essential oils. I diffuse them, add them to drinks and rub them all over. My favorites for bedtime are lavender, ylang ylang and Young Living’s Peace and Calming blend. (Make sure your oil is food grade before you consume it!)
Melatonin, 5HTP, valarian root all help with sleep. Of course, check with your doctor before taking any supplements for the first time.
Just don’t drink it right before you go to bed or you’ll find yourself running to the bathroom a few times in the night! Camomile tea is great for relaxation and there are many sleepy-time blends on the market now. Of course, stay away from caffeinated teas. I can’t drink green or black tea after 3:00 or 4:00 pm or I’ll be jittery all night.
Mediating or doing a relaxing yoga routine before bed can help quiet the mind. I have a few relaxing yoga DVDs that I rotate between.
Take a hot bath
I really love hot bubble baths! They help both my mind and body relaxed. Add some essential oils to water to increase relaxation.
Listen to Relaxing Music
I have several relaxation CDs, but I’ve found the most effective ones have subliminal pulses that affect brain waves. Dr Jeffrey Thompson’s Delta Sleep System and Kelly Howell”s Stress Free Forever usually help me fall asleep.
Use a White Noise Machine
I am a light sleeper, and I’ve found that white noise helps me fall asleep and stay asleep. My mind stays focused on the sound of the machine and I don’t get as easily distracted by other noises such as my significant other’s snoring or my cats playing with their toys.
Close the Bedroom Door
And speaking of cats, they all tend to wake and are ready to play around 5:30 am. Darling Clementine likes to climb all over me and she’s even been known to play with my alarm clock. (Perhaps she realizes I don’t need it since I have her.) Little Tallulah has a tendency to meow really loudly until someone gets up. To avoid being woken up by them, sometimes it’s just necessary to keep the bedroom door closed.
Those are all things that have worked for me. Is there anything I’ve missed that’s helped you sleep?