Sleep is of critical importance to a healthy life. Regular restful sleep is one of the best ways to improve your physical and emotional well-being. Our society today teaches us to prioritize work, homework, and high activity over sleep and restful practices. As we live these fast-paced lives our sleep often becomes erratic, which can lead to many health and energy issues. After a day of stimulating activity, your body needs to slow down and have deep sleep so your mind and body can recharge and reset. When we are well rested, we can be more alert and thereby more easily process new information. When we do not get enough sleep we can have digestive issues, irritability, poor focus, drowsiness, and low energy. As you sleep your body works to repair and renew itself in a few different ways:
- The liver detoxifies and eliminates accumulated toxins.
- The body strengthens your immune functioning.
- It repairs and regenerates tissues and cells.
- It balances hormonal and metabolic processes.Two hormones in particular, leptin and ghrelin, which help to regulate appetite and metabolism.
- It supports how we process and store memory by turning short-term memory into long-term memory.
7 Tips to Regulate Your Sleep Cycle
- Slowly go to bed earlier. Sleep is often compromised when we get busy. It can seem really daunting to get back on a regular habit of 7-9 hours. At our clinic we suggest our clients go to bed just ten minutes earlier each week. In just three weeks you can go to bed 30 minutes earlier.
- Avoid daytime naps. In order to sleep better, we can to try to avoid daytime naps as they can make our sleep cycle irregular.
- Be aware of when and how much you are eating. Ayurveda suggests to eat a smaller meal for dinner and to not eat later than 7:00pm. It takes a few hours for our body to process and digest the food, so this will give us time before sleeping. A warm glass of milk or dairy alternative with nutmeg and cardamom often aids in sleep.
- Avoid technology.Try to avoid technology an hour before bed as it can keep your mind active and does not let your body relax. You can try this in steps depending on your phone and computer use. Try to stop using technology 10 minutes before bed each week and then increase weekly.
- Begin to wind down after dinner. After dinner try to slow your body and mind down. Perhaps try a little restorative yoga, meditation, or pranayama to focus inwards.
- Avoid caffeine or stimulants. If you are sensitive to caffeine, try not to tea or coffee in the afternoon. Often we adjust to how much caffeine we are consuming in the late afternoon. We can drink tea or coffee until night and then wonder why we are having sleep issues. Your body is your best lab. Test what is working and what is not. Try not having caffeine past 4:00pm and seeing what happens to your sleep cycle.
- Establish a ritual. To form new habits to support going to sleep earlier, it makes it easier if you decide to do them every night and have something that triggers new behavior so they can become automatic. It can help to set an alarm 30 minutes before bed to remind you to turn off technology or an alarm reminding you to begin to wind-down. Once you begin to do this enough, it will become more natural to you.