Sleep well and replenish with a commitment to quality rest…
Sleep is a key component in regenerating our cells and enhancing our immune system. Understanding its role in lowering stress and anxiety and implementing some easy suggestions into our bedtime routine can provide us with the best possible environment to get quality, restful sleep.
The circadian rhythm is our continuous, natural, internal sleep-wake cycle designed to regulate sensations of sleepiness and wakefulness over a 24 hours period. Along with restful sleep it is a strong regulator of the immunological processes in our body1.
This complex system is controlled by an area of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus which is located in the hypothalamus and pineal glands. Responding to natural light and especially sunshine, this part of our brain manages our natural tendency to be more alert during the day and tired when it’s dark. By following your body’s natural cues of when to go to sleep and when to wake, the circadian rhythm can be kept in balance2.
But we know that change is inevitable even if temporary and especially in moments of stress and anxiety, disruption to that rhythm can occur. So here are some helpful tips on how to rebalance it so that your sleep is sound and plentiful3,4.
Stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed at a regular time and waking up each morning at a consistent time will help to keep your circadian rhythm in check.
Go for a morning walk. In the morning, exposure to the sunlight doesn’t just give you an energy boost- it can stimulate your brain and reset your circadian rhythm for the day ahead. A vigorous 15-20 minutes walk is often enough if your time is limited.
Reduce early evening technology. Artificial blue light (laptops, tablets, cell phone or TVs) and other bright lights in the evening can affect your central nervous system and throw off your circadian rhythm. Set a time to turn off all technology at least 2 hours beforehand to ease into a mindful sleep practice.
Exercise during the day. Exercise is a key component of all good sleep routines but make sure intense exercise is done at least 4-5 hours before bedtime.
Stop any caffeine intake by 3p.m. This includes coffee, black or green tea and sodas.
Drink chamomile tea. A natural relaxant herb, chamomile can help to calm down your nervous system helping your mind relax before bed.
Incorporate some gentle stretching, meditation or breathing exercises right before bed to ease tension out of the body and promote better sleep.
Set the atmosphere. Keeping technology and distractions out of your bedroom is key for a good nights sleep. Keeping the bedroom cool and dark may also help your body relax and promote restfulness.
Remember that the goal is to focus on the body, mind and spirit as one integrated unit that works together. By focusing on healthy sleep patterns and routines, you’re focusing on healthy living and enhancing your vitality and constitution.
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- Review Papers : Sleep and immune function. Besedovsky.L et al.
- National Institute of General Medical Sciences
- Sleep Review
- National Sleep Foundation