Have you ever heard the expression, “You can’t outrun a bad diet?” Basically it means you can’t exercise your way out of a eating a bunch of of crap. That’s true; but what’s also true is you can’t outrun or out-eat poor sleep. You can be doing everything right fitness-wise and nutritionally but if you’re sleep is off you won’t be as healthy as you could be. Sleep is so important I make it my number one priority. If I had a bad night’s sleep, I won’t add stress to my body by doing a hard workout. Those are the days I walk and stretch. I also notice I crave sugar like crazy if I’ve had a bad night’s sleep.
The sad thing is, even though sleep is so impportant, we don’t make it as much of a priority as we should. We often sacrifice sleep for work, exercise or Netflix. No matter who you are, sleep needs to be a priority. Here are a few tips to get better sleep.
Magnesium has the ability to decrease cortisol and relax muscles, both of which help us sleep. I have fibromyalgia and I notice a big difference if I don’t take magnesium. If I do, I sleep well through the night. If I don’t, I often wake up in pain and can’t go back to sleep. My favorite form of magnesium is Natural Calm (Click here for link). The raspberry lemon is my favorite!
Exposure to blue light makes your body think it’s daytime and makes it harder to go to sleep. We purchased some inexpensive amber light bulbs (click here for link) and put them in the lamps on our nightstands. I read for 30-40 minutes before I go to sleep and this low light makes helps my body be tired enough to go to bed. I notice a big difference in how quickly I fall asleep after reading with the amber bulb.
Like the amber bulb, amber glasses (click here for link) help your body make the transition from daylight to night. I don’t recommend wearing them for hours before bed, but if I need to do something on the computer of if my husband and I want to watch 40 minutes of TV, I’ll put them on. This isn’t the same as going without electronics before bed, but it helps if you have to get on a computer.Like the bulbs they help me get tired enough to go to sleep.
Essential Oil Spray
I love the calming effect of essential oils. I have a glass spray bottle (these are my favorite) on my nightstand filled with distilled water (about 4/5 of the way) and topped off with lavender and chamomile essential oils. I spray my pillow and sheets and let them dry a minute or so before I crawl into bed. The scent is so relaxing.
Lavender on feet
I also keep a bottle of straight lavender oil on my nightstand. Before bed I rub a few drops on the bottoms of my feet. Oils on feet absorb into the system quickly and lavender has a relaxing effect on the body.
Shut off Electronics
We’ve already talked a bit about how amber light helps us sleep. Blue light has the opposite effect. It keeps the body awake and makes it very difficult to relax. Try to shut off electronics about an hour before bed. This gives the body a chance to relax and wind down. This includes TV, computers and, yep, your phone.
I cannot sleep without a noise machine. It blocks the noises of barking dogs, trains, traffic, and even a snoring husband. My FAVORITE of all time is the Dohm Noise Machine (click here for link). It’s mechanical so there is no loop. If I’m traveling, I use the Relax and Sleep app on my phone.
I don’t do a full yoga routine but I find it helps me sleep if I just do a few stretches before bed. I usually do hamstring stretches, spinal twists, toe touches, and full body stretches. It’s relaxing to both my muscles and my mind. Be sure to breathe deeply to get an extra calming effect.
Comfortable Bed and Pillow
Sadly (for me), I fall short in this area. I’m still working to find the best pillow and mattress for me. Make sure your pillow keeps your neck in straight alignment with the rest of your spine (not above or below). This will vary depending on if you’re a back or side sleeper. If you experience numbness at night, your neck is either not aligned properly or your mattress is too soft. My chiropractor recommends a Sleep Number bed and a buckwheat pillow. Just make sure you’re comfortable. You should want to get in bed at night.
Keeping the room a bit cooler makes it easier to sleep. Don’t make it so cold you’re freezing, but keep it cool enough to be comfortable while you sleep. This week I’ve been waking up so uncomfortable and I couldn’t figure out why. Today I checked the thermostat and discovered someone had programmed it to hit 76 degrees at 5 a.m. No wonder I woke up and felt miserable! That’s way too hot for this girl. We usually keep our room at around 69 degrees through the night.
Total Dark/Sleep Mask
Shut off ALL lights when you sleep. This includes lights from clocks, night lights, etc. If this isn’t possible (you have kids like I do), consider a comfortable sleep mask that blocks out light.