Natural Sleep Solutions

Posted by Andrea Rossi, RHN, R.BIE in Lifestyle + Essential Oils

2018-06-12

Do you feel like you can’t remember the last time you got a good nights sleep?

Are you feeling exhausted or running on your stress hormones all day?

Do not fear, I have some great tips (day time + night time) as well as information on what essential oils work best and how to use them. 

The Science of Sleep

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing daily.

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we're just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind. People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don't forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program?

Sleep literally affects every aspect of our health!!

Knowing this, it's easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:

● To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
● To improve our brain's ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
● To conserve some energy so we're not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

Although as adults you need less sleep than your growing kids, it's recommended that all adults get 7 - 9 hours a night. I know my happy zone is from 8-9 hours. 🛌💤

Try not to skimp. Sleep is when your body does most of it’s healing! And if you work shift work, you’ll need to work extra hard for your sleep.

Tips for Better Sleep

Day Time Tips:

● Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. Eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber and healthy fats). Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack). Make sure you're getting some protein every time you eat, especially for dinner. Spikes in blood sugar increase your cortisol levels affecting your adrenals and stress response making it hard for your body to wind down and sleep. Having well balanced meals help you keep your stress response in check and therefore better sleep! 

● During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it's daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening. Avoid vigorous exercise during the two hours prior to sleep.

Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it's the “added” sugar we're minimizing. Both caffeine and added sugar stimulate cortisol secretion which keeps your mind more active than you want it to be come evening.

Night Time Tips:

● In a world of inconsistency, the best thing you can do for your body is try to establish some type of consistent sleep regime as best you can. Although often difficult, try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a day. This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off, whenever that is. Seven. Days. A. Week. I know weekends can easily throw this off but by try to make sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.

● Have a relaxing bedtime routine is key to give you body those soft cues that it’s time to wind down. This starts around 1 hour before your “lights out” time. This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading a (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath.

● Our circadian rhythm is light sensitive. Our body’s production of the hormone Melatonin is stimulated by a reduction in light. You want to minimize and limit all light when trying to sleep, especially from technology. The blue light that technology gives off supresses your body’s natural production of melatonin shifting your circadian rhythm and making falling asleep a serious challenge. If you do need to check your phone at night, make sure you use night mode if you have an iPhone or install one of the various apps available. This is a great article from Guiding Tech on the top 5 apps available: Read more here.

● A relaxing meditation is a great add on before bed. Once you’re ready for bed, put on a guided meditation or soothing music, put on your eye pillow, and then fall asleep in a maximum relaxation state. It’s like mind training! ;) Try out the below links on various guided meditations and even just simple sound tracks. Make sure you turn off “autoplay” in YouTube so that you don’t get rudely startled and woken up by the next video which might not be so soothing!

Sleep Meditation for Positive Energy Healing, Narrated by Michael Sealey, 40 min

Guided Sleep Meditation for Insomnia (Sleep, Relaxation, Calm your Mind), Narrated by Lina Grace, 2 hours (1 hr spoken, 1 hr music + rain sounds.

4 Hours Deep Sleep Music: Delta Waves (no voices) - Delta brain waves are the type of brain waves that induce sleep. If you like this one try searching for other Delta Sleep videos! 

8 Hours of Relaxing Music | Delta Sleep Waves (no voices)

For more information on meditation, check out my blog post on Mindfulness + Meditation here. 

● Keep your bedroom temperature cool. When considering things that may affect the quality of your sleep, temperature may not be on the top of your list, but it should be! Temperature plays an important role in the body’s functioning and even during sleep how cool or warm you are at night can influence the quality of rest you receive. How cool exactly? While everyone is unique, research says between 18-22C is ideal. During the winter months, closer to 18C and in the summer around 22C. Around when we should be heading to bed, our body temperature takes a slight dip and stays lower until close to wake time. When temperatures are cool (but not too cold!), this facilitates deep sleep. In contrast, warm temperatures may lead to restlessness, difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep, and fragmented sleep. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or even staying asleep, try lowering the temperature of your bedroom a few degrees and see how you sleep!

And the great part is you can start implementing a lot of these tips today!

My Personal Favorite Sleep Tools

Ok, now I want to talk about my ultimate 2 favorite sleep tools: my eye pillow + essential oils!

The Eye Pillow – Your passport to relaxation!

Ok, starting off with explaining how using an eye pillow will change your sleep. 

Yup, I’m talking about those little pouches usually filled with flowers, herbs and seeds that all the restorative yogis use. They’re not just another yoga accessory you can buy…there’s an actual science behind them and I think you’ll want to pick one up too once you hear it! These little pouches might be one of your most powerful healing tools, especially when it comes to your nervous system.

Let’s talk about the science for a moment. Your vagus nerve is one of twelve cranial nerves. It originates in the brain (in the medulla), travels down into the digestive tract. It’s responsible for heart rate, gastrointestinal peristalsis (digestion), and sweating among other tasks. It is the primary communicator to our rest-and-digest (parasympathetic) system, which helps us to relax more deeply.

You also have a reflex called the oculocardiac reflex. When light pressure is placed on the eyeballs (and, it is thought, the browbone), it lowers heart rate–sometimes by a considerable amount.

So, when light pressure is applied on the eyeballs, it stimulates not only your oculocardiac reflex but you’re your vagus nerve facilitating our relaxation response.

This means that eye pillows are a highly effective tool to retrain our nervous system. They turn off the fight-or-flight response and help us go into rest-and-digest and ultimate relaxation. This means that it helps reduce stress, lift depression, balance anxiety, stimulate our digestive system and reduce tension in our bodies. 

Bonus is that they also block out any light that might affect your sleep, especially if your room gets hit with the morning sun!

I find the best ways to use the eye pillow is as you get into bed to help you fall asleep or if you wake up frequently throughout the night or early morning hours put it on to help you fall back asleep. You’ll be amazed how fast it works!

When you’re laying in bed with your eye pillow on, focus on your breathing. Try to take deep belly breaths (4 counts inhale, 4 counts hold, 4 counts breathe out) while you lay there to help relax your mind and help you fall asleep.

You can also use it any time you feel anxious, depressed, or stressed. Take a few minutes to yourself with your eye pillow and do some deep breathing exercises.

Your eye pillow will quickly become your rest button and new best friend!!

Essential Oils for Sleep

For thousands of years, essential oils have been utilized for their calming and soothing properties. Anciently, calming oils were used for meditation, aromatherapy, and more. The method of using essential oils to promote relaxing, calming feelings has remained popular throughout the years because essential oils provide a natural, yet effective way of calming the mind and body.

Because essential oils are so potent and powerful, they provide rather quick results, which makes them useful for promoting a good night of rest. Not only can essential oils with a calming or soothing nature help relax the body and mind before bed, but the comforting aroma of essential oils can also help create an environment that is conducive to sleep.

So, what makes essential oils useful for sleep? How do they work? 

Well, every essential oil has a different chemical makeup with a unique combination of chemical constituents. These chemicals are what give an essential oil its benefits. Certain chemicals can make an essential oil useful for cleansing, soothing, or warming, while other chemicals might make an oil calming, invigorating, or cooling. Because each oil is taken from a different plant or plant part, each oil has a completely unique chemical profile, and thus a completely unique set of benefits.

By choosing essential oils with chemicals that hold relaxing, calming, or soothing benefits, it is easy to use oils to promote a peaceful environment for sleep.

The following list of essential oils are some of the best oils to use to promote quality sleep because of their calming, soothing, relaxing, harmonizing, and grounding properties. You can also mix several oils together to create the optimal sleeping environment.

Best Essential Oils for Sleep: Bergamot, Cedarwood, Chamomile, Cilantro, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Lavender, Marjoram, Melissa, Petitgrain, Roman Chamomile, Sandalwood, Thyme, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang, dōTERRA Peace Blend, dōTERRA Balance Grounding Blend, and the dōTERRA Serenity Restful Blend.

My go to when I’m having a hard time sleeping are my essential oils. My top favorites are the Serenity Blend, the Balance blend, and Vetiver on its own. I personally find Vetiver is amazing for calming my restless mind! 

The Serenity blend is very calming and can be used on its own for sleep as well. It contains the following essential oils: Lavender Flower, Cedarwood, Ho Wood Leaf, Ylang Ylang Flower, Marjoram Leaf, Roman Chamomile Flower, Vetiver Root, Vanilla Bean Absolute, Hawaiian Sandalwood Wood. Note that this product also comes in a soft gel with L-Theanine to help with sleep.

The Balance blend is also called the grounding blend and helps promotes tranquility while bringing harmony to the mind and body, and balance to the emotions. It contains the following essential oils: Spruce Needle/Leaf, Ho Wood, Frankincense Resin, Blue Tansy Flower, and Blue Chamomile Flower.

If you’re not sure where to start, I would suggest you get yourself an ultrasonic diffuser and a bottle of Balance and Serenity. These 2 blends mixed together are very powerful. It will help calm your mind and help keep you grounded if your brain is on overdrive.

Liquid Calm Diffuser Blend: 3 drops each of Serenity + Balance 

I put together a great little Sleep Rescue Kit for you that I think you’ll love. It includes a bottle of Balance ($34) and Serenity ($51) essential oils, plus an eye pillow ($15) (purple, grey, or blue! Retail price for this kit is $100 but I have 4 available for $75 + hst. Shipping available for an additional $7. {I had purchased some extra oils during a promotion that I’d like to pass along the sale to you!} 

Sleep Rescue Kit Delivered:

Colours

Sleep Rescue Kit for Pick Up:

Colours

If you’re looking for more information on essential oils for sleep, doTERRA put together this amazing 14 page ebook that you can download here for free just below.

 

Are you looking to green up your home and medicine cabinet? Not sure where to start when it comes to essential oils and using natural products? Schedule a free 30 min consult with me to talk about how you can start incorporating essential oils in your daily life.

Enter your name and email below to sign up for a free 30 min consultation and I can help guide you on how to get started.   

Much Love,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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