Remember when you were a little kid, how you could fall asleep anywhere? At the Thanksgiving table, under mom’s desk, at the grocery store… If you have trouble sleeping now, you probably long for those days. We know first-hand how painful it is to watch precious sleep hours tick away while staring at the ceiling.
We asked nutrition and wellness specialist Melissa Rousseau of M. Parke Studio for 10 tips on getting the best quality Zs possible. This isn’t exactly an insomnia quick-fix or a “how to fall asleep fast” guide, but if you follow Melissa’s lead, you’ll find yourself drifting off into deeper, more blissful slumber and maybe even snoozing like your 6-year-old self again. Here’s Melissa…
Sleep. It is one of those absolutely essential pieces to our overall wellness and vitality puzzle, but also one part that can be so easily disrupted. As the season shifts, new routines are introduced, daily stress is a constant, and finding the balance between self-time, kids, and work becomes more and more challenging, so the first thing to go is sleep. While it may seem high maintenance to some, or to those lucky souls to whom sleep comes effortlessly, getting a nourishing, restorative night’s sleep can be deeply enhanced by a ritual of excellent sleep hygiene.
10 WAYS TO ENHANCE AND DEEPEN SLEEP
STOP CAFFEINE CONSUMPTION AFTER 10 AM
If you are having any struggles in the sleep department, caffeine must be the first to go. If you are not quite ready to give it up completely, try limiting your consumption to before 10 a.m. Therefore, your body has time to fully process its wakeful effects. Ready to transition from coffee? Give Dandy Blend or yerba mate a try!
MOVE YOUR BODY
Studies show that exercise of moderate intensity can help people fall asleep faster and remain asleep. This doesn’t necessarily need to look like boot camp + spinning classes, but an invigorating power walk or hike is ideal. Additionally, more consistent exercise results in better sleep quality.
The term ‘sleep hygiene’ has a pretty sterile ring to it, however it is called that for a purpose. Sleep is your time for healing, regeneration, rest and recovery. So setting up your room for the most optimal slumber, and keeping it as ‘sterile’ and interruption-free as possible, is imperative.
There are a few routines out there that are highly effective at calming the body/mind and inducing a deep sleep. I always seem to revisit Dr. Weil’s soothing 4-7-8 technique intended to slow your heart rate and quiet your mind. Try this before bed:
1) Breathe in deeply through your nose for 4 seconds.
2) Hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds.
3) Exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds.
4) Repeat as needed.
I consider magnesium to be the miracle relaxation mineral that most of us are severely deficient in. Everything from too much coffee, too much sweating without replenishing, to too much alcohol and stress, strips us of our magnesium levels leaving us with a huge array of symptoms that can run from muscles cramps, insomnia, anxiety, chronic fatigue, constipation and so much more. I am constantly rebuilding my magnesium levels. My essential daily magnesium supplements are Natural Calm (in my water or tea throughout the day and especially in my tea at night), Ancient Minerals Bath Flakes (in my baths), and Omica Organics Magnesium Topical Spray (post-shower, before applying body oil or cream). Also consider adding some magnesium-rich foods into your diet: kelp, dulse, almonds, Brazil nuts, figs, dates, avocado, parsley, garlic, dandelion greens, tofu and brown rice.
This is also one of my go-tos on nights when I just can’t seem to turn my mind off. GABA, or gamma-amino butyric acid, is an amino acid which acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, inhibiting nerve transmission in the brain and calming anxious activity.
RESCUE REMEDY SLEEP FORMULA
I’ve been using flower essences for some time now, and find that Bach’s Sleep Formula can be so soothing and helpful on restless nights as well.
POWERING OFF + UNPLUGGING
Ideally, we would all be completely powered off at least two hours prior to sleep, but that simply is not always possible or realistic. It is very important, however, to limit your EMF exposure to ensure a peaceful night and allow your body to heal properly, and to do this I make sure to unplug all electronic devices in my room. If you are TV watcher, finish up your shows at least one hour prior to bedtime. Power off the computer, shut your cell down, and even turn off the wireless for the night. You simply do not want these waves circling around you while you sleep. We get enough exposure of these during the day. Night is your time to soothe and rebuild. Use that final hour to read something inspiring, do your breath work routine, sip your tea and magnesium, and journal.
KEEPING THE ROOM COOL + DARK
Studies also show that cooler room temperatures can trigger the body’s sleep system. Keeping your head cool is ideal and helpful as well. Although everyone is individual, 65 degrees is a great place to start. Also, as light inhibits the secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone, it is so important to keep your bedroom dark and perhaps wear an eye mask, if needed.
WHITE NOISE MACHINE
As a light sleeper, I adore my white noise machine for masking any sounds that would normally wake me. This is actually the only device that I keep plugged in at night.
Bonus: READ THESE
Reset Your Inner Clock: The Drug-Free Way to Your Best-Ever Sleep, Mood, and Energy, by Michael Terman Ph.D
Rhythms of Life: The Biological Clocks that Control the Daily Lives of Every Living Thing, by Russell G. Foster and Leon Kreitzman