For those who struggle with acquiring a long-lasting sleeping pattern, these tips can help to calm your mind, ease your body, and help you drift into a restful sleep.
If there is any fairytale princess we can all say we’ve wished we could be at some point, it would probably be Sleeping Beauty. To those of us who struggle with acquiring a long-lasting sleeping pattern, a spell that helps you get caught up on your sleep might sound good to you right now.
If you are like any modern adult living in our fast-paced world, you may know all too well the rollercoaster of inconsistency that sleep can create. Whether it’s your job that has your brain buzzing at night, your kids needing your attention, or the stress of your daily duties you find hard to keep up with, all of these factors can contribute to you not catching enough Z’s.
Although we’re not able to cast a spell on you, we can offer 6 tips that can help to calm your mind, ease your body, and help you drift into a restful sleep — a happily ever after ending.
The Stages of Sleep - and Why They’re So Important
Whether you slowly drift into sleep or hit the pillow and zonk out quickly, you progress through a few different physiological stages of sleep. Each of these stages serves an important purpose in keeping your body and brain functioning at its best, which is why it is crucial you experience each stage every night.
- NREM - This is the first stage that happens within minutes of falling asleep and only lasts up to 7 minutes. During this phase, your brain produces alpha and theta waves and your eye movements begin to slow. You may gently start to relax and begin dreaming at this stage.
- Light Sleep - Your breathing and heart rate begin to slow down and your muscles relax. This is the stage where your brain waves start to slow.
- Deep Sleep - In a deep sleep, your body starts to experience its lowest levels of temperature, brain wave activity, breathing, and heartbeat. Your muscles become extremely relaxed and it is much harder to be awoken in this stage.
- Healing Stage - This is when your body repairs its muscles and tissues, boosts your immune function, stimulates growth and development, and stores energy for the next day. This phase of sleep is the hardest for you to be woken up in.
- REM Sleep - This is the final phase of sleep and can occur 90 minutes after drifting and last up to an hour long. Your brain becomes much more active; creating eye jerking movements, an accelerated heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. Your arms and legs become temporarily paralyzed during this stage to prevent you from physically acting out in your dreams. REM plays a major role in memory and learning function; as this is where your brain consolidates and processes information from the day before so it can be stored in your long-term memory.
It’s important to experience all of these stages every night during sleep, as they all play an important role in the development and function of every aspect of our bodies. When your sleep is interrupted too often and your body can’t reap the benefits of these phases, it won’t be able to rebuild and repair in order to function at its fullest capacity.
What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
A shortness of shut-eye can tack on a plethora of unwanted outcomes, which is not ideal for those looking to become a healthier version of themselves. Sleep helps to reset your hormones and revitalize your adrenal glands. This is important in the production of the stress hormone cortisol. When our body produces too much cortisol, this increases our stress levels and anxiety and the way our body naturally responds to inflammatory reactions. Having an increased amount of stress, alongside a confused inflammatory response can have an impact on the optimal overall function of the body. (1)
How Much Sleep Should You Get?
It’s no secret that you almost always feel better after a good night’s rest, and although most people would agree with this statement, The National Sleep Foundation has the science to back it up! The foundation based a report on a two year study they conducted, breaking down their data into nine categories based on age and what the optimal sleep amount per night is:
- Older adults, 65+ years: 7 to 8 hours.
- Adults, 26 to 64 years: 7 to 9 hours.
- Young adults, 18 to 25 years: 7 to 9 hours.
- Teenagers, 14 to 17 years: 8 to 10 hours.
- School-age children, 6 to 13 years: 9 to 11 hours.
- Preschool children, 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours.
- Toddlers, 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours.
- Infants, 4 to 11 months: 12 to 15 hours.
- Newborns, 0 to 3 months: 14 to 17 hours.
Based on the data above, do you find that you are getting enough sleep per night? If not, it’s time to give your body the support that it needs!
Our 6 Tips to Get You on the Road to Restfulness
Now that you know how sleep affects your body and how much you should be getting each night, here are our 6 tips to help you achieve the sleep you’ve always dreamed of.
1. The Food On Your Plate
Making changes to your diet is essential in creating a sustainable sleep routine. Providing your body with the proper nutrients it needs in order to function at its best is essential in helping to regulate your sleep hormones. There are also some foods you can incorporate to help assist in setting your body up for success including almonds, bananas, chamomile tea, fatty fish, oatmeal, turkey, walnuts. Adding nutrient dense plant foods like these have been shown to improve sleep quality and enhance health. (2)
2. Movement and Exercise
Regular exercise, particularly in the morning and afternoon, impacts your sleep quality by raising your body temperature by a few degrees. As the day goes on, your body temperature will slowly drop back down, allowing you to feel physically drowsy and make it easier for you to fall asleep at the proper time.
Researchers at Northwestern University reported that previously sedentary adults who started implementing aerobic exercises four times a week improved their sleep quality from poor to good. (3)
You should strive to achieve 30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise 5 days a week. If you struggle to meet those standards, even just a 10-15 minute walk every day can help boost serotonin levels and regulate your melatonin (the “sleepy” hormone).
3. Staying Consistent
Making sure to go to bed and wake up at the same time every single day will get your body in a routine to notice triggers that will naturally make you tired at night and wake you up on your own in the morning. Try to avoid “sleeping in” on the weekends and continue to get up at the same time every day. A “fixed” wake up time helps to build a desire for wanting to sleep throughout the day. If you shorten this window by allowing yourself to sleep longer in the morning on the weekends, it will make it harder for you to fall asleep the next night!
4. Devices and Smartphones
Try to avoid using any electronic devices one hour prior to bed. These produce blue light activity which suppresses the production of melatonin, making it harder for you to feel sleepy. These devices also keep your mind racing and your thoughts humming, not allowing you to relax your brain and body. Opt for a warm bath, soothing music, or read a book to wind down the evening.
5. No More Nightcaps
Although we tend to drink our alcoholic beverages at night during social engagements, it’s best to avoid alcoholic consumption later in the evening if you are wanting to regulate your sleep pattern. Alcohol disrupts your sleeping pattern and brain waves that are meant to leave you feeling refreshed in the morning. That glass of wine with dinner may relax your body and help you feel more sleepy, but once it wears off, you’re likely to wake up and have a harder time falling back asleep. (4)
6. Incorporate Healthful Supplements
Incorporating supplements to aid in your body’s natural sleep cycle can be very beneficial for those who need a little bit more help in falling asleep at night. Ideally, you’ll want one that has added nutrients in it that help assist in the cycle of sleep such as vitamin B6. BalanceGenics Natural Sleep supplement features such vitamins, along with melatonin, 5-HTP, L-Theanine, and L-Tryptophan; a blend of amino acids and natural ingredients that help to support your body’s essential sleep cycle. This formula can be a great supplement to an already healthy lifestyle in order to assist in getting that much needed sleep your body craves!
It’s important to note the quality of the supplement you are adding into your diet. There are many supplements on the market that promise a good night’s sleep to their consumers, and although they may work initially, how do they affect your body long term? A lot of these sleep aids are filled with synthetic chemicals and can even cause habit forming tendencies for those that begin to rely on them to fall and stay asleep. Try looking for a natural sleep supplement that is all-natural and non-habit forming.
Our busy and fast-paced lives sometimes make it impossible to prioritize sleep. Although it’s easy for us to push this essential aspect of life aside, learning to catch more Z’s can have amazing benefits to our health. These tips may not be prince charming, but they sure can be the knight and shining armor you’ve been looking for to help make your “dreams” come true.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. Readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither the author(s) nor the publisher of this content take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All readers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
- St-Onge, M., Crawford, A., & Aggarwal, B. (2018, March). Plant-based diets: Reducing cardiovascular risk by improving sleep quality? Retrieved November 02, 2020