As a mama of four kids, sleep is hard to come by, with more and more activities and responsibilities to fill up my day. And as we get older, we have to do more to help ourselves fall and stay asleep and to choose to make it priority. So, I've got 5 simple and natural tips to help you fall asleep and get that illusive good quality sleep to help you power through your day!
Why is Sleep So Important?
Sleep plays an incredible role in your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Sadly, though, as we become busier and busier, many people are now getting less and low-quality sleep. It's something that we have to choose to make a priority, just like eating healthy and having an active lifestyle. If we don't our health pays the price later on and we spend years trying to fix it!
Lack of sleep affects your mental, emotional and physical well being. It can be as extreme as causing a car crash, but for most of us, it creeps up and before we know it, we have health problems. Things like brain fog, slow reaction time, impatience, grumpiness, poor concentration and focus, anxiety, depression, weight gain, weak immunity, autoimmune diseases, and even heart problems are common causes of sleep depravation.
Sleep Helps Manage Your Weight
As you might already know, at least two-thirds of adult Americans are either obese or overweight. There a strong link between weight-gain and poor sleep. In fact, lack of sleep is touted as one of the most dominant risk factors for weight conditions such as hypertension and obesity. In simple terms, people who get adequate sleep (preferably 7 to 9 hours) tend to weigh far less than those who sleep less.
Did you know that getting adequate sleep actually helps with your motivation to eat healthy and exercise? So, if you are looking to shed weight and keep it off, getting adequate sleep is key. Plus, when we are tired, we tend to eat more calories throughout the day, which of course, leads to weight gain.
Sleep Increases Your Productivity and Concentration
If you’re finding it difficult to concentrate at work or school, the chances are that you’re getting less sleep. That’s because sleep is crucial for many brain functions. Our brains need time to rest to be able to process the emotions and information from the day. Without that processing time, it's hard to make decisions, think critically and creatively, and so much more.
Sleep Improves Athletic Performance & Reaction Times
It’s no secret that sleep can help rev up athletic performance. Many studies have shown that longer sleep can do wonders for an athlete’s reaction times, mental well-being, accuracy, and speed. It can even help with mental reaction times while at work, driving, and for focus and concentration.
Sleep Can Help Kick Depression & Anxiety
Mental health conditions like anxiety, stress or depression show significantly strong links to insomnia or poor sleep quality. In fact, over three-quarters of depressed people complain of sleep deprivation.
Sleep Can Brighten Up Your Mood
It’s well documented that the body can produce happy-making hormones such as dopamine and serotonin while you sleep. Good quality sleep inhibits the secretion of stress-related hormones such as cortisol.
Can Boost your Immune System
Your immunity takes a hit when your body is sleep deprived. In fact, people who get less than 7 hours of sleep are 3 times more likely to develop conditions associated with weak immunity such as a cold.
5 All-Natural Ways to get More Sleep
According to the CDC, a whopping 9 million adult Americans use prescription sleep drugs. What a wake-up call, right? Lucky for you, there are natural ways to fall asleep faster, and sleep better so you won't need to reach for those sleeping pills.
#1. Yoga Stretches
Yoga has, for many years, been touted a “wonder drug” for sleep deprivation. And for very good reason; yoga is a fantastic mind-quieting exercise. While the science behind it is not well known; we do know for sure that yoga works like a charm for relaxation. I love to do some yoga poses to calm myself down and prepare for sleep. I suggest taking 5-10 deep breaths while in each position. Try the following yoga poses for a good night sleep:
- Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana): This is a standing forward bend that can do wonders for your sleep. It can help relieve insomnia and headaches as well as lower any stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue. It also calms the mind and soothes the nerves by stretching the hips, hamstrings and calves while strengthening the thighs and knees at the same time. Read more about this pose here.
- Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana): Yoga experts believe this stretch can bring an overall sense of ease to your body. It opens up your hips releasing tension in the back and hamstrings. Read more about this post here.
- Child's Pose (Balasana): This is a quiet pose stretch that has deep, calming effect on your mind. Allow your chest to relax towards the floor and take 5-10 deep breaths It can also relieve tension. Read more about this pose here.
- Plow Pose (Halasana): This will relax your back, neck and shoulders, which calms your mind and nerves for a more restful sleep. hRead more about this pose here.
- “Legs up the Wall” Pose (Viparita Karani): the stretch brings about soothing quality as the blood rushes back to the heart. It also relieves tired and tight legs and feet and backaches. Read more about this pose here.
#2. Essential Oils
I use essential oils daily for me, my kids and even my husband and they have been amazingly helpful for sleep! I used to buy oils from the stores and online, but they were never as effective as the ones from Young Living have been. I have found that brand really matters when it comes to oils and can stand behind Young Living. Learn more about Young Living here.
How to Use
- Diffuse in a diffuser beside your bed. Let it run while you fall asleep. It will turn off when the water runs out.
- Put a few drops on the bottoms of your feet and rub in
- Put a few drops in the palm of your hand, cup over your nose and mouth, and take several deep breaths. Oils affect the limbic system of the brain which controls emotions and memory.
- Put the oils into a roll on bottle (5-10 drops of essential oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil) and roll onto your chest, neck, wrists – anywhere you want, really!
Essential Oils to Use:
- Roman Chamomile
- Ylang Ylang
- Stress Away
- Northern Lights Black Spruce
- Dream Catcher
- Tranquil Roll On
- RutaVala Roll On
Meditation is something I never really understood or even looked into until the past few years. Growing up as a Christian, I was taught it is pagan thing to do and to stay far away from it! I have a different opinion now, and have learned that meditation is simply quieting your mind, removing all distractions, so that your brain can process emotions and information, and relax. You can mediation on Scriptures, or say affirmations, pray, or even follow one of the many guided meditations found for free on YouTube!
I've recently started doing it myself, and really enjoy relaxing and then listening. It is often during these times that my brain comes up with my most creative plans and ideas, especially for my businesses! I learned a lot about meditation from the hilarious coach and author, Jen Sincero, in her book, “You're A Badass at Making Money.” It's a seriously awesome book – I laughed out loud many times throughout reading it!
I like this guided sleep mediation on YouTube – it is incredibly relaxing!
- Have a bottle of Young Living Frankincense oil beside you. Put a few drops of it in the palms of your hands and take deep breaths of it throughout the practice.
- Have a candle (soy-based, non scented is best! I like this one.) burning and focus your gaze on it to help quiet your mind
- Run a diffuser with one of the oils I mentioned in the essential oils section next to you and take deep, cleansing breaths
#4. Switch Off Devices and Screens
Smartphones and screens emit a blue light which actually fires up the brain and even negatively affects melatonin production while you sleep! Seriously, they even wrote about in Scientific American.
“The light from our devices is “short-wavelength-enriched,” meaning it has a higher concentration of blue light than natural light—and blue light affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin more than any other wavelength.”
Plus, the constant flickering images and posts on social media keep your brain active, which doesn't help when you're trying to relax for bed.
Turn off your devices for at least 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. Mediate, pray, journal, do the yoga stretches, listen to some calming music, or read a book instead. I know, sooo terribly old fashioned, isn't it? But it works, promise!
#5. Herbal Tea
Drinking a warm drink is so calming and relaxing, don't you think? Ever noticed how many of us form emotional attachments to coffee? The ritual of sitting still and quiet, sipping. Try drinking herbal tea before bedtime. Some of my favorite are:
Also, check out my post on getting a super comfy and healthy mattress here!