For a long time before artificial lights and cell phones entered our lives, people went to bed with darkness and got up at sunrise, intuitively following the natural cycle sleep. Daylight was the main source light, or in the evenings candles and other natural light sources. Today, we have an abundance technology that lights up our life and keeps us awake, which provides much more freedom, but also disrupts our natural cycle sleep. Depression, insomnia, anxiety, eating disorders, obesity and chronic diseases are on the rise and are associated with the lack sleep. Instead going to bed when the time is right, we push it to the limits and then use pills and anti-depressants that irritate our sensitive sleep cycles even more. Here are a few tips for a healthy sleep routine:

Admit the importance of sleep

Our body is genetically programmed to sleep a certain amount time – one third our lives we ideally spend asleep to maintain health. There are different cycles sleep – light sleep and deep sleep phases as well as active brain sleep. These cycles are important for our brains, cognitive abilities, growth, immunes system and weight management. As a very first step, we can start acknowledging the importance sleep and get sensitive about the fact how our body reacts to missing out on sleep. Diseases caused by sleep deprivation often go undetected for a long time until they surface.

Build a healthy sleep self-care schedule 

This is probably the most important step. With our busy lives, sleep get’s more and more an abandoned factor and we squeeze it into our days like everything else. As a first step, get conscious about sleep and reiterate it’s importance. Secondly, analyze your daily routine and find a way on how to integrate a healthy pre-sleeping routine that you can look forward to. For example, one hour before bedtime plan on time for that book you wanted to read since last year. Or that Thank you note you wanted to write for some time now. This one hour should be special and reserved only for you – over time it will become the time you look most forward to over the day: where you read a good book,  journal, meditate, relax, take a bath or do anything you like – with the exception using technical devices.  This should be a time serenity and rest.

No Technical devices before bedtime

Statistics show that 95 % American people use different types electronics prior going to bed. TV, computer, ipads, phones – they all cause sleep disruption and insomnia leading to serious health problems because exposure to artificial light, especially the white light emitted by these devices, suppresses the production melatonin. Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant protecting our cells and is the main hormone balancing a healthy sleep-awake, or circadian, rhythm. To produce melatonin, we need darkness. A recent study found that people whose natural circadian rhythm is interrupted by artificial light are more likely to get cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, have impaired immune systems and suffer from obesity and heart disease. 

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Make it dark

You sleep deeper in the dark because the production melatonin requires a dark environment. Get rid (or tape over) the red, blue and green lights radio clocks, TV, Security systems or any other devices you have in your bedroom, because our brains can misinterpret even these dim lights still as valid lighting sources, unknowingly interfering with your deep sleep phase. Dress your  bed room windows with  drapes and make it a dark and comfortable space. available

Use socks

Studies have found that wearing socks to bed helps you sleep because the warming feet and legs allow the internal body temperature to be optimal, which provides a comfortable sleeping environment. To make it even better, have a warm foot bath before bedtime and use some natural oils like coconut or almond oil for a foot massage before putting on the socks. This also makes for beautiful feet.

Ditch the bed time snack

Food is a serious sleep saboteur. It’s that simple. Nocturnal eating keeps you from getting restorative sleep and may force you to gain serious amounts weight. Never eat refined carbs (white floured foods) or snacks like chips, cereals, sweets, sugary snacks or over-sweetened yoghurts before bedtime (those are not even beneficial over the day), they seriously spike blood sugar disrupting a healthy sleep cycle. But even the healthiest snack is  contra productive to your sleep efforts – try to aim not to eat for at least 3 hours, your dinner should be the last meal the day to achieve a restorative sleep rhythm.

Drink a detox drink

No, thats not a glass wine … In fact, avoid alcohol before bedtime altogether, especially on a regular basis. Alcohol makes some people sleepy, however it’s drowsiness they experience which wears off after a few hours leaving them wide awake and often tense. Alcohol  makes for a restless sleep, seriously disrupts our circadian rhythm and is known as a sleep disruptor. Instead, a good choice for a healthy bed time drink is Apple Cider vinegar (ACV) – mix it 1:10 with water (1 part ACV : 10 parts filtered water) and drink it 2 hours before bedtime. It cleanses and calms the intestinal system, flushes out toxins and prepares the body for the night signaling that was the last food intake for the day.

Brush your teeth early at night

Brushing your teeth sets an end to the eating routine for the day. Most people brush their teeth shortly before bedtime, change it to brush right after the last meal for the day. It creates a mental barrier for your brain to reach for food after you brushed your teeth – and makes it more difficult for you to reach for food because your body already received the stop-eating-signal.

yvonne-rightYvonne Wilhelmi is a Health Coach trained in bio-individual nutrition and health strategies and Life Coaching practices. She blogs frequently about health & wellness topics.

Please call me with any questions you might have 770.778.3535. I would love to hear from you! 

 

Yvonne Wilhelmi
Health Coach

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