Living in a world full of stimulation...it's time to address the importance of sleeping well... You may eat well, exercise and have a full and enjoyable life but without proper sleep, your body will show signs of weakness in the form of sickness, low immune function, hormone imbalances and, well…a general feeling of being cranky and tired.
Before reaching for an over-the-counter or a prescription remedy, let’s look at what’s really going on that may be affecting your sleep pattern.
In holistic terms, the body will never go against you – ever – it is always seeking balance, rhythm and health. So sleeping issues are a truly modern problem and one that should be addressed if you are not sleeping at night.
The basics: your own body has its natural circadian rhythm that is specific to you. You might prefer working at night as opposed to the morning or you like to exercise at the end of the day instead of the early morning hours. This is your preference and therefore you create your own body’s rhythm, established in your earlier part of life. The key is to know your own rhythm and work with it. The body likes patterns and consistent daily routines. Your body wants to get up at the same time every day, eat at the same time everyday and go to bed at the same time each night. Therefore the systems of the body – hormones, digestion and the cleansing cycle of the organs can expect to do their job at the same time each day with little variety. So the first action to track is your daily routine. For two weeks, try and keep a constant schedule so that your body can regulate itself. Track how you feel for these two weeks and what works and what doesn’t work. Keep that consistency! This will do wonders for your overall health and allow you to see and feel your own, unique body clock.
So to recap, first the circadian rhythm must be addressed. Next, we can look at outside helpers to assist in your getting your sleep back on track.
If your body clock is off with an uncontrollable schedule, you’ll need to address the Melatonin levels in your body. This hormone regulates the pineal glad and therefore the light and dark cycles that tell your body to sleep and to wake. As we age this hormone diminishes so what can you do to make more melatonin? Eat black cherries! The phytonutrients in black cherries help regulate the hormone of wake and sleep cycles and can be a natural source instead of supplementing with Melatonin itself. Black cherries are also extremely alkalizing and can be added to a green smoothie for a nutritious breakfast. You can also buy black cherry concentrate and add this to your water to have throughout the day.
Another mode of helping the body to sleep is to gently diffuse calming oils into your sleep space that may include lavender or frankincense. There are many “sleepy time” blends on the market that are used to calm the nervous system and aid in your environment. Creating a nighttime routine of setting up your sleep space can help your brain to begin shutting down slowly as it creates nuro-pathways of suggestive thought…music, mediation, tea, dim lights, cool temp, etc.
The next area of thought to be addressed is your nervous system in general. Often we don’t sleep because we have stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, etc.) coursing through our bodies and we are in a sympathetic nervous state for long periods of time putting us in “fight or flight” for sometimes years at a time and then the body does not shut down to rest because it hasn’t learned that you’re out of danger.
Helping yourself with stress can benefit sleep immensely. Taking deep breaths through the day, going outside at points during the day to get sunlight (go without sunglasses as sun needs to indirectly synthesize through the pupils). Taking short walks to encourage balance and de-stress. If you can, begin to cultivate a meditation practice before going to bed, as well as writing your end of day thoughts. This will help calm the mind and turn on the cleansing cycles for your organs, therefore assisting in your overall health.
Grounding technology…because we live in big cities we rarely have the opportunity to get grounded through the natural waves coming up through the Earth that literally keep our body balanced and feeling “good.” When we use electronic devices or have EMF’s around our body field during the day, we can feel drained no matter how much sleep we are getting at night. Check out the grounding pads that are available online and start with getting a pad that you put your feet on while at your computer and see if you feel more energy at the end of the day. It can be a game changer for those who struggle for deep, restorative sleep.
As many of us live in large cities, air quality can also be an issue, especially because at night we breathe much deeper than during the day. Consider using a HEPA filter in your sleep environment as a way to keep allergies and asthma at bay. Of course removing any electronics away from your head area will lesson the EMF transmissions in your room.
Beyond the basics of the general go-to’s: Bathing with Lavender, or having teas made from Valerian, Kava Kava, Chamomile, etc., herbs can be a great addition to a night time regime, but trust me, working with your own body rhythm, finding balance and assisting the nervous system will help you overall and not just a quick fix for the night.
You may also find a sleeping mask and ear plugs helpful to hear your own breathing or listing to ambient noise may be a better choice, but in any case, find what works for you and try and get that 7-9 hours of needed sleep in so that you will be well in your older years.
Good luck and keep dreaming those big dreams in deep, nourishing sleep!
A recipe using the Black Cherry Concentrate that's really yummy!:
Vegan Black Cherry “Pie”
¼ Cup of Vegan, raw Granola (One preferably with greens)
1 T. Fiber/Probiotic Blend Powder
¼ Organic Goat Yogurt
2 T. Organic Black Cherry Concentrate
Stir and Enjoy!
A few Thawed black cherries
1 T. Cacoa Nibs
1 T. Coocnut flakes
1 t. Crushed almonds