Sleep is such an active time as:
✦ It stabilises your HPA axis and cortisol (your stress buffer & natural anti-inflammatory)
✦ Improves your insulin sensitivity
✦ Replenishes your hormones
✦ Certain nerves are repaired
✦ Neurotransmitters are produced
✦ Muscles connections are repaired and maintained
✦ Emotional regeneration takes place
✦ Immune function is enhanced
✦ Provides you with better performance and decision making
Putting yourself into sleep debt is not pretty, and these are some of the more important consequences of not giving yourself enough sleep.
✦ Cortisol levels rise
✦ Inflammation rises
✦ You eat more
✦ Your thyroid slows down
✦ Your lady hormones are thrown out of whack
✦ Your blood sugar levels get out of whack
✦ Brain fog sets in
✦ You get grouchy
✦ You increase your risk for diabetes
✦ You become more susceptible to getting sick
And that just naming a few....
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP?
Let's start with some great herbs which of course can found in my organic herbal SLEEP tea.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is nervous system calming and mildly sedating which can provide a better nights sleep and reduction in tension throughout the digestive tract. Chamomile’s strength is in its gentleness and can easily be used during the day to prepare you for a good nights sleep.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is gently sedative, uplifting to the heart and calming to the mind. The rich aromatic oils in Lemon Balm have a highly calming action on the digestive system making it helpful for digestive conditions that are stress-related, such as nausea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome or the butterflies in the stomach sensation all of which can prevent a restful sleep.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnate) is great for sleeplessness due to mental restlessness, nervous excitability, and an over-active brain. Passionflower has an affinity for the area of the brain that oversees sleep making it specific for insomnia caused by that inability to stop mental chatter aka "monkey mind".
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is a relaxant that is suited to spasmodic and tensive conditions involving nerves and muscles helping to relax the body and mind to improve sleep. Lavender is another great herb for those that can’t sleep because their mind is too active
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) the volatile oil content provides Catnip with its gentle relaxing and calming action, making it great for sleeplessness. Catnip is for the worrywarts who have pent-up tension and can't sleep.
Withania (Withania somnifera) somnifera means sleep-inducing and is well suited to the tired and wired person. Its properties as a gentle tonic for the nervous system make it great for the hyped-up, stressed out person, as it enables the body to better cope by calming, and strengthening the nervous system. Withania enhances sleep by modulating cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone your body releases when you're under stress, and when levels stay high for too long you will start to notice you are not sleeping well or even if you do sleep well, you are still tired the next day.
MORE SUGGESTIONS TO SLEEP SMARTER
- Ensure you have drunk at least 2 litres of water during the day.
- Try to allow extra time in the evening to rest as this calms your nervous system and lowers cortisol preparing you for sleep.
- Caffeine is a powerful nervous system stimulant so avoid after 2 pm.
- Although alcohol is a sedative, it causes the release of adrenaline and blocks tryptophan, which helps the body make the calming brain chemical melatonin which is vital for sleep control.
- Nicotine can cause difficulty falling asleep and problems waking in the morning.
- Get more sunlight during the day as this helps keep your circadian rhythm in sync. The circadian rhythm is your built-in 24-hour hormonal clock. Sunlight exposure triggers your body to produce optimal levels of daytime hormones and neurotransmitters, especially serotonin, that regulate your circadian clock all of which affect your sleep.
- Cut out the screen time (computers, tablets, iPads, smartphones, etc.) at least 90 minutes before bed. The artificial blue light produced by these screens produce more daytime hormones and upsets your body's natural preparation for sleep. Read a book instead or if you can't make the 90 minute cut off use a blue light blocker app. I use f.lux (there are plenty of others) that automatically eliminates the blue light from your screen once the sun goes down.
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom cool; you sleep better if you are a little cooler.
- Your belly drives your brain, and your hormones so stick to a healthy diet and keep that good gut flora flourishing.
- Tryptophan is an essential chemical used by the brain in mood regulation and in the process of melatonin (the hormone of darkness that announces bedtime to our brains) production, which is essential for good sleep. As the body can’t naturally produce this amino acid, we have to obtain it from our food. You will find tryptophan in most protein foods in your diet. Foods like beef, turkey, fish, legumes, lentils, oats, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans beans, are loaded with it.
It is just not about how you sleep it is also about when you sleep; it is critical to create a good sleep schedule.
Going to bed at 10 pm as by 10 pm your body is starting to get a second wind. Your body does most of its repair work between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am. 7 hours is the minimum your body needs to make you feel and work at its best.
Then getting your buns up nice and early in the morning at the same time regardless of the previous night's sleep as this helps to set your biological clock. Don’t forget to rehydrate with a warm glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice and water as this gives the liver a nice kick start for the day.
I hope that one or more of the sleep smarter tips, as well as the safe and natural herbs covered in my herbal ramblings, help you get a deep refreshing sleep, without side effects.
Go get you steep on ツ