Cindy DeCarolis

Simple Strategies For Restful Sleep

Are you one of the millions of Americans suffering from poor sleep?

Approximately 130 million Americans say that they have difficulty sleeping. Lack of sleep can have dire consequences, for example, each year 100,000 car accidents are caused by sleepy drivers; 500,000 deaths each year are attributed to sleeping pill use; and sleep deprivation is a factor in medical errors in 100,000 deaths in hospitals annually.

What is good quality sleep?

The best indicator of good quality sleep is feeling refreshed upon waking. Other indicators include sleeping 85% of the total time you are in bed; falling asleep in 30 minutes or less, ideally within ten to 15 minutes; waking no more than once per night and remaining awake for no more than 20 minutes; and the ability to awaken without an alarm clock.

It is completely normal to have occasional bouts of insomnia. Short term bouts of insomnia may be the result of stress, jet lag, diet, or medications, to name a few factors. However, chronic and / or severe conditions could signal a sleep disorder. One of the most common sleep disorders is sleep apnea, a momentary pause in breathing. The University of Rochester and Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse both have Sleep Centers where you can be tested for sleep disorders.

How much sleep do you need?

The average adult needs seven to eight hours. Some adults may need nine hours, but the sweet spot for most is eight. Infants require 16 hours of sleep a day for their developing cells, organs, bones, and brains. The average for teenagers is nine hours – there is a push for a later school day start to accommodate this need. The elderly need seven to eight hours of sleep, but they sleep lighter and for shorter periods of time, taking naps throughout the day. Pregnant women tend to need more sleep, especially in the first trimester.

Lack of sleep impacts our health. Even after just one night of poor sleep our memory and concentration can be off. Chronic lack of sleep can result in increased stress levels, weight gain, weakened immune system, accelerated aging (they don’t call it “beauty sleep” for nothing!), and increased risk of many diseases.

Simple Strategies for Restful Sleep

• Get natural sunlight every day, especially early morning light. Light from the sun enters the eyes and triggers the brain to release melatonin and other hormones and chemicals for sleep.
• Stop using all technology – TV, iPhone, iPad, laptop – at least one hour before bed.
• Filter blue light in the evening and at night. Blue light mimics the sun, orange light is best for rest. Use the f.lux app.
• Practice “earthing” – humans are meant to physically connect with the earth. Stand barefoot in the grass and watch the sunset. For cold, snowy climates there are earthing mats that can be used indoors during winter.
• Create a sleep routine with a consistent bedtime and a wind down routine.
• Take a leisurely walk or practice yoga (gentle or restorative) in the evening. Do your more intense exercise earlier in the day.
• Meditate or journal on anxieties; make a plan for addressing your worries.
• Avoid heavy meals – overeating can cause snoring. Minimize foods that hinder sleep, such as white breads, refined pasta, sugar, highly processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine.
• Eat no later than three hours before bedtime.
• Foods high in melatonin, magnesium, and tryptophan promote relaxation and sleep.
• Cherries – the best source of melatonin and also have magnesium.
• Nuts – almonds, walnuts, pistachios.
• Green leafy vegetables – lots of minerals, help the brain to use tryptophan.
• Avocados – healthy fats, minerals, potassium, and vitamins.
• Fish – tuna, halibut, and salmon have omega-3 fatty acids.
• Turkey – best source of tryptophan.
• Herbal teas, especially chamomile.
• Design a bedroom conducive to sleep – optimal sleep temperature is 60ºF to 68ºF, invest in a good mattress, keep your bedroom clean and clutter-free, use calming colors (blues, greens, warm earth tones.)
• Diffuse essential oils with calming properties. A few of my faves are frankincense, lavender, Serenity, cedarwood, and Roman chamomile. Use three to four drops of oil and set your diffuser on intermittent. If you have pets, leave the door open so that they can leave the room if the aroma is too much.

If you do occasionally suffer from insomnia the worst thing you can do is to lie in bed tossing and turning. Get up, have a cup of herbal tea, read a book, take a warm bath – anything that helps you to relax.

Sweet dreams!

At Blissful Balance LLC, our mission is to help you to live life healthier. You can follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Contact me at cindydecarolis62@gmail.com for a complimentary consultation. You can also visit doTerra to purchase essential oils.