Health & Wellness - Sleep Wake Cycle
Your health & wellness lifestyle should include adequate sleep. Sleep is essential for resting and recharging your body, and there are adverse effects to not getting enough. In terms of a wholistic approach to your life, sleep is just as important as anything. It is recommended that all adults get between seven and eight hours of sleep per night, and you should be taking it all in one, single block of time. When you are unrested, you put yourself at risk for a number of things including:
- Heart attack
- Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Impaired Memory Function
- Impaired Cognitive Functioning, in general
- The list goes on…
When sleeping, it is recommended that you sleep in cooler temperatures (not too hot), and you should be entering into the deepest stages (i.e. Stage 4, REM Sleep) in order to gain the benefits of resting and recharging. Most importantly, your sleep should be uninterrupted. That means, if you have other problems or outside interference that is getting in the way of your most important wellness technique for restoring your mind and body, you need to take a look at fixing the source of the problem.
Did you know that some people wake up as many as 200 times during the night? It’s true – this type of behavior is very unhealthy, and if you have long lasting problems or if you are experiencing insomnia, you should see your doctor, to help ensure the appropriate course of action. There could be health concerns that need to be addressed, and it’s important not to overlook bigger problems. Another cause for tossing and turning all night, might be the result of an overstressed and under-rested mind. In fact, there are disorders that can be caused from too much stress, such as PTSD, anxiety, depression and other related problems, affecting your mood. For those conditions, it is important to confront the cause, and then find a compassionate health care provider to guide you through the steps for pulling you out of your less than optimal state.
Likewise, if you have negative people in your life, you need to deal with them accordingly. If you have thoughts on your mind that are keeping you worried and distressed, this can prevent you from sleeping deeply. An important point to remember, is this: Before bed, clear your mind. In order to de-stress and fully relax your entire body, try committing to just ten minutes of Yoga, right before bed. You can make your sessions longer, if you like; however, ten minutes is all you need to notice a difference. We recommend choosing routines that are designed, specifically, for stress relief. Yoga will help if you have leftover thoughts, circulating in your mind, at the end of the day. In addition, thoroughly stretching out every muscle in your body, from head to toe, helps you to sleep like a baby because you will feel completely relaxed; There’s no better way to get into a deep sleep. There are also specific routines designed for bedtime and restful sleep, in particular. So, it’s tried, tested and true, you just need to find a routine that works best for you.
We also recommend having some tea before bed. You just need to make sure that you have a low caffeine or non-caffeinated type, and we recommend trying out this blend, from “Your Tea,” called Sleep Tea. Sleep Tea makes a pleasant blend of Lily, Lotus Flower, Lavender, etc. added to a base of Licorice and Red Teas. We like this tea because it’s created specifically to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and stress, helping you calm and relax your mind. It is also designed to settle your stomach, and it’s a naturally relaxing tea, that will help you ease into a more restful sleep. We love things that come tightly packed into the box, so we don’t run out of a good thing too quickly. – You get 40 tea bags per order with this. That’s a really nice number, for nightly use, because at the end of the month (i.e. 30 days), you order a new box, and you will never run out.
If your breathing is something that bothers you, or a significant other during the night, this can cause sleep interruptions as well. If this is the case, a good thing to remember is to be mindful of your caffeine intake. Any types of toxins that you ingest are not only bad for your health, but they can also interfere with your circadian rhythm or sleep/wake cycles. Coffee, in addition to smoking, drugs and alcohol can all cause sleep interruptions, so you should make a conscious effort to minimize or eliminate your use of such substances. If you suffer from allergies or congestion, you should try to incorporate some health & wellness techniques, to improve your symptoms, during the day. At night, you might want to consider sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom, and the sound can also help to lull you to sleep. A humidifier helps to moisten as well as purify the air in the room, promoting better breathing, during sleep.
Other recommendations, to assist with very, minor, respiratory problems, causing disturbances throughout the night, include eating a significant amount of tryptophan, either at dinner time or just before bed. We all know this from our Thanksgiving and other holiday gatherings, tryptophan is the amino acid that causes you to flop down onto the couch, after you are finished eating; Basically, it makes you exhausted. So, if you have difficulty sleeping, try having some turkey or have some fruit, like bananas and dates, before turning in. You can also have a dessert, after dinner, including yogurt or even low-fat fro-yo, to help you sleep throughout the night. There’s also the Grapefruit trick – Eating half of a grapefruit is recommended, but no one really knows why. What we do know, is that grapefruit affects your metabolism, so perhaps that’s the reason it makes you more tired. A word of advice: Don’t mix grapefruit juice with your alcohol, and don’t consume grapefruit, if you are on prescription medications. The change in your metabolism, resulting from ingesting this fruit, can interfere with your medications, as well.
The following Minerals are also important for helping you sleep throughout the night.
Calcium – Calcium can assist you in achieving a deeper state of sleep. Basically, if you are deficient in this mineral, your sleep will be less restful. Calcium works within your brain to catalyze some intriguing, chemical processes. It is especially important if you are taking our advice and eating foods containing tryptophan before bed, as it helps your brain to utilize tryptophan, producing melatonin. This, in turn, helps you to sleep better. It’s quite a complicated process, what your brain can do, but all you need to do is ingest tryptophan containing foods (like turkey) and have your Calcium at bedtime, and your incredible brain, will do the rest for you; Imagine that.
Magnesium – For all of you worriers, there’s a natural, night time relief. Magnesium can help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and stress, and taking it before bed can help you get into a more relaxed and calmer state of mind. This, ultimately, leads to a more restful sleep. If you don’t want to take a tablet before bed, you can consume foods rich in this Mineral at dinner. Think beans and veggies – Vegans and Vegetarians, you should be good with this. We think you’re probably already getting enough – Congratulations!
Melatonin – Melatonin can help your body to prepare for sleep. We suggest trying to incorporate some Melatonin rich foods into your healthy food plan, and consume them, following dinner. Fruits containing this mineral include: oranges, bananas and pineapple. Ok, have your pineapple upside down cake and eat it too! Our version is right side up – Plus, it helps you sleep better.
Pineapple Wake Up on the Right Side of the Bed Cake Recipe
– 2 Cups of Oats
– ¼ Cup White Sugar
– 2 tsp baking soda
– ½ tsp salt
– 1 Cup of Almond Milk
– 1 Egg White
– ¼ Cup Apple Sauce
– Yogurt (You will probably need about 1 Cup)
– Pineapple chunks (1 Can)
Directions: Mix together the dry ingredients. Combine all of the moist ingredients. Add the moist ingredients into the dry, and combine, until the oats are coated and moistened. Lightly grease a muffin tin, with low-fat margarine substitute. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups, dividing it evenly. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the fork test comes out clean!
Topping: We don’t like to measure for this part because everyone can help themselves; especially if you have little ones, it’s the fun part! Set out a dish of plain or vanilla yogurt. Set out another dish of pineapple chunks. Everyone helps themselves, and you just spoon a dollop of yogurt over the top of your muffin, and follow it up with some pineapple chunks. The little ones will have fun with this and get generous with their creations. It doesn’t matter how much you put on top; you can’t go overboard with this part because it’s all food that’s good for you. Excessive amounts wouldn’t sit on top anyway, so you don’t need to measure; It takes the fun right out of it! After all the excitement, everyone’s ready for bed.
Also, B12 – It improves your mood, keeps blood sugar levels stable and, surprise, surprise, it also helps you sleep. There’s tons of information about this one here on our site, so have a browse. Just in case you haven’t heard our lecture yet – You need it if you are a Vegan or a Vegetarian.
Assist Your Nighttime Breath Rhythm with These Essential Oils
Essential Oils are used in aromatherapy, and often paired with other relaxation techniques, such as massage, for example. The benefits of the oils are quite interesting, as they are very fragrant and cause a reaction in the brain that leads to changes in mood. These interesting oils are designed to evoke different emotions, associated with specific scents, so they are well thought out additions to your regular, stress, relief techniques. The emotions associated with the scents bring about deeper feelings of relaxation and positive mood changes, relaxing you and even helping to calm you enough to sleep, when used at nighttime, before bed.
Before getting started, we must stress that when using any type of Essential Oils, it is of the utmost importance that you choose only those types that are tested for safe use on your hair and skin. They are not meant to be ingested, orally, and only certain types are safe for topical use. The only kind that we recommend buying are the Skin & Hair Care Fragrance Oils from Bulk Apothecary, unless otherwise stated.
Here is a list of the Top Fragrances to Assist with Nighttime Breathing Rhythm:
– DoTerra – Breathe
To make an Aromatherapy Diffuser, all you need is a glass, candle jar. You can use anything, as long as it’s glass, and you should probably use one with a lid, for when you would like to put it away. We don’t want you sleeping easier, during the day, right?
Directions: Pour ½ Cup of Baking Soda into the bottom of your jar, and add about 10 drops of Essential Oil (depending on how strong you want the scent), into the baking soda. Mix it up, and put a tea, light candle in the center. We suggest using the Breathe Essential Oil formula, by DoTerra, to help improve your breathing, and minimize snoring. If you just like the idea of these diffusers, and you love the relaxing scent of aromatherapy, we recommend using lavender oil.
Use a candle jar or any glass jar. You can use one with a lid, if you want to. However, this isn’t necessary because the aromatherapy effects will only be noticeable in the room, while the candle is lit.
Directions: Buy a wick, with a metal base at the bottom, and glue it to the bottom, center of the jar, on the inside (hot glue). Wait until it dries. In a bowl, place about 1 Cup (or enough to fill your candle jar) of Coconut Oil into the microwave, and microwave it, until it melts. For color, all you need to do is melt a crayon, and mix it into the oil – Just get a small, 3-pack of crayons, and pick out the color that you like best. If you want to, you can get the bigger boxes of crayons, but you don’t need to: less is more. Melt the crayon in a small bowl, but don’t overdo it. Mix it into your Coconut Oil, until you have the desired color that you want, and then add in your Essential Oil. For this project, we recommend using lemon Oil. Then, pour the contents into the candle jar, around the wick. Let it dry.
Homemade Room Spray
Directions: Using a tall, Spray Top Bottle (think hairspray spritzer), mix together 1 Cup of Water, 1 Tbsp of Vanilla, and ½ to 1 tsp of Essential Oil. Shake it together, to mix. – That’s it!
This is the most simple fix you will find. For the room spray, we recommend using Chamomile, and spraying your room, just before bed. However, Eucalyptus and Peppermint are good if you have tension or stress, as well. You can spray it in the air, before sleeping, or if you really love the scent, you can spray the bed sheets with it. If you are spraying linens with it, we always recommend a hint of shimmer. You can just add in 2 Tbsp of glitzy glitter, and it will give your bed a shimmering look.
Essential Oils should work to help you get into a more restful sleep, and hopefully, you will be able to restore your pattern of a good, solid, seven to nine hours of sleep per night. It is also important to make sure that you are drinking enough water, throughout the day, to help prevent you from getting a dry throat. Have a glass of water an hour before bedtime, as well, and see if that helps the problem. The position that you sleep in is important too. Normally, we suggest lying on your back; however, if you are bothered by snoring, sleeping on your stomach is a better alternative because you will breathe easier. We also recommend that during your Yoga sessions, you pay close attention to your breathing. Focus on breathing deep and opening up your throat and nasal passages. Hopefully these tips and tricks will help make a difference in your sleeping patterns, and you can finally get some much needed, well deserved sleep.