We live in a world where we are always connected and stimulated. Whether it’s the nature of our work, busy social lives, expectations or following our dreams, we are continually excited by the world around us. The average person spends 75% of their day on screens, and people today are more connected to one another than ever before. Social networking and the rise of technology give us the opportunity to stay fully engaged at all times. But people are also more lonely, distant and unhealthy every year. And unfortunately, it has become common to forgo our need for self-care and rest.
The body craves solitude and downtime.
And sleep is essential. It is when we do our best work at keeping ourselves healthy. Sleep is often disregarded as a tool for well-being and its priority on our lists can get lower when something seemingly more important comes along. We know we need it, but are often not getting enough. Sleep allows us to be still and gives our body a chance to rebuild itself physically. It makes us more capable of being happy and healthy, and supports a better emotional connection to the world.
Now that fall is here and we are readying ourselves for winter and slowing down, it’s a good time to look at our sleep patterns and see how they can be improved.
Why Sleep Is So Important:
Healthy Brain Function
- Our brains needs a reset– the studies out there show that a good night’s sleep enhances learning, improves our attention during the day and allows us to make better decisions. With deep, restful sleep we are more creative and happy. Sleep deprivation has been shown to alter activity in the brain, where our nerves and body processes are not firing correctly. Our thinking changes, behavior is altered and we are less resilient to the stressors that come at us.
A Healthier Heart
- Deep restful sleep, where we complete REM cycles, gives our heart and vascular system a rest by naturally reducing heart rate and blood pressure. Our body is hardwired to do this on its own, but only when we are in a state of rest.
- Sleep helps to restore the energy you expend during the day; it helps to build resilience and endurance.
Stronger Immune Systems
- Good sleep helps your body do its natural job of staying healthy.
Thoughts on how to create healthy rest and sleep habits:
It’s nice to think about your day as a cycle
Sleep provides the building blocks for a productive, healthy day. Our daily habits can support a restful night’s sleep;. Eat good food, take adaptogenic herbs, avoid lots of caffeine, move your body, drink plenty of water, take deep breaths. All of these things set you up for healthy habits that in return make it easier for your body to rest.
Create a bedtime routine that is nourishing
- Drink tea, take baths, light candles, snuggle with loved ones or pets. Do gentle yoga or meditation. Avoid screen time if you can before bed. This simple practice of winding down sets the tone for a deeply replenishing sleep ahead of you.
Allow yourself to shut down
- Much of the reason behind sleep problems is anxiety or the inability to fall asleep from not knowing how to shut off the mind. This could be from stress or from thinking about all the things you need to take care of. Get into the habit of making a list at the end of the day, get it down on paper so you don’t have to think about it. It will be there in the morning to keep you on track. Take some deep breaths and be easy on yourself.
Use calming herbs and practices involving them
- Aromatherapy is a wonderful way to create a sense of peace. Burn herbs, use essential oils in a bath or distiller, rub your body with oil. Scent has been known to relax the mind and body allowing you to transition easily into restful sleep.
Take herbs internally
Herbal tinctures also help, and we created a formula (Hit the Hay) for just this purpose. We built the formula around passionflower, which relieves the stress of the day and allows the mind to gently relax without knocking you out. Plus, it won’t leave you feeling groggy if you take it in the middle of the night, and it has long-lasting effects. California poppy helps calm the mind of mental chatter. And then there’s kava: the incredible fast–acting root that supports a relaxed nervous system. It has a way with everyday tension and supports us in letting all that melt away into a calm and peaceful state. We topped it off with the added benefit from hops which supports a peaceful, restful state quickly.