Create Your Sleep Sanctuary

Now that we know the importance of sleep, here are some familiar and not so familiar steps you can take to create the best environment and scenario for the best sleep possible.  Some of these tips may be obvious for some but hopefully there is something here that addresses an issue you may have. Get stimulants out of your system well before bed time. This can include some medications geared as antidepressants or ADD. Then there is the obvious , that being anything containing caffeine such as coffee, tea and chocolate.   Another item considered a stimulant is nicotine so avoid it as well.  Items that seem to relax you such as alcohol, pain medication and marijuana also disrupt sleep as the body metabolizes them and actually interrupts you sleep.

If sugar makes you hyper or jittery or you find it increases your energy, it too should be avoided in the afternoon. For some this may mean avoiding starches as they turn into sugar once you eat them. Some benefit greatly by avoiding naps.  The problem is that those who do have problems sleeping, a nap can be refreshing but it does interfere and can disrupt the nighttime sleep cycle.  Exercise , even though you feel tired, might be the better option but again this should be done a couple of hours before bedtime as vigorous exercise can be energizing and keep people awake. Get prepared for sleep. Take a look around your bedroom… is it conducive to sleep? Are there things that would be stimulating or distracting such as cell phones, clocks facing you, televisions, computers?  Your bedroom should be comfortable so control the light and temperature.

Sound therapy can help to induce a very peaceful mood and help relaxation. There are a number of places where you can buy a variety of soothing sounds.  Its a matter of taste . White noise, for example, was first discovered by Thomas Edison, that playing noise effectively in all audible spectrums, that this particular sound blocked out distractions. Now with modern technology,  white noise has moved forward to generate pink and brown noise. Now brown noise is known for deep sleep and relaxation. Many benefit from sticking to a regular sleeping schedule and staying on it as changing sleep patterns by staying up too late or oversleeping on weekends  can trigger disruptions in sensitive people.  Meditation and warm baths can induce relaxation or reading something that is not anxiety provoking helps to prepare oneself for sleep.  The transition time for sleeping is important for most.  Taking the time to put aside busyness and focus on calming activities, such as what has just been mentioned, gives you time to relax and unwind before going to sleep.

Supplements and herbs that can help with are calcium, magnesium and B6. Herbs such as kava kava, chamomile, valerian and melatonin  will affect sleep in different ways.  Kava kava reduces anxiety while valerian (over time) will induce sleep quickly.  Foods that help produce melatonin are walnuts and dairy.  Both contain tryptophan  which produce serotonin and melatonin.  Eating a salad has sedative properties as it contains lactucarium which affects the brain similarly as opium.  Almonds are rich in magnesium which helps you stay asleep and foods high in B6 like tuna,  salmon, and hummus help produce melatonin.  Experiment and see what works for you. “We are such stuff on which dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” William Shakespeare

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