Do you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep?
Maybe you stay up late to finish watching a favorite show, or to complete a work project.
It could be that you’re worried or have anxiety about something and that brings on insomnia.
As a functional medicine practitioner, I’m here to give you a wake-up call for you to see how you can improve your sleep with a list of 5 beneficial areas to work on for optimum sleep.
The Circadian Rhythm – Our Body’s Clockwork
This rhythm has a lot to do with your sleep patterns due to your health, anxiety, the food you eat, how and when you eat. If the circadian rhythm of sleep is disrupted and it’s hard to get a healthy amount of sleep, you could experience consequences to your health such as:
- Mental health issues
- Cardiovascular system
- Gastrointestinal system
- Skin conditions
Additionally, studies show that sleep deprivation may cause a disruption in your memory, an injury could take longer to heal, and you could experience a lack of energy. This goes for adults and children, men and women, all ages and stages.Healthline
When you sleep, your body builds everything you need.
There are various things we need to keep our bodies healthy, such as eating right and exercise, yet if you’re not sleeping enough, 7-9 hours per night, your body won’t be able to properly heal itself, go through the nightly phase of cleaning and building the body back up for optimal performance.
Many people say they feel fine on just 3 hours of sleep per night, yet what they don’t realize is that it will catch up to them, because the body is being deprived. People come to me when they are desperate, needing surgery or with a major health risk and it’s too far along, why did they let
it get to this point? The body gives you signals every day, but people choose to ignore it, so take this as a reminder to start listening to your body and don’t let sleep deprivation become chronic.
Some people think being overtired is normal!
Some people don’t know what it feels like to be rested, they say they’re really good at working on adrenalin. However, after a few years, the symptoms ramp up and they cannot function that way anymore, they become chronically sick, and they are forced to wake up and make changes.
What do you do when you feel tired?
Coffee! Yes, it may keep you awake and you think you don’t need to sleep, but this is not natural, and you’re forcing your body to stay awake. Also, when you’re sleep deprived, you look for food to give you energy.
Tired and hungry impulses sit on the same area of the brain.
The body doesn’t know if it’s food or sleep you need, and you overeat, resulting in weight gain and less energy. At 10:00 PM you go to the kitchen for food, but what you really need is to go to sleep!
Here are some benefits of sleeping enough, 7-9 hours:
- Improved concentration
- More energy
- More patience
- Less anger
- Better decision making
- All organs work better
- Weight loss
5 Tips For Better Sleep
1- The Mental Aspect
When a person is going through a hard time, perhaps a job loss, financial issues, etc., it will be hard for them to fall asleep as the mind is racing, thinking, and they don’t fall asleep easily and/or wake up in the middle of the night.
You need to increase neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin that affects our mood and reduces anxiety, and these are some things that work:
- Talking it out
- Breathing exercises
- Light stretching
Mental Health and Essential Oils:
Essential oils have an impact on your olfactory system, which is related to smell and the emotional brain. This causes the brain to secrete neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which among other things, elevates your mood making you feel calm, related and sleepy. American Sleep Assoc.
The essential oils can be inhaled with a few drops in a diffuser, by direct application to the skin and/or ingestion.
These all work on reducing anxiety, and each works on a different pathway to support relaxation and sleep.
In addition, “Some neurotransmitters help your body recharge while you sleep. They can even help you to remember things that you learned, heard, or saw while you were awake. The neurotransmitter acetylcholine is at its strongest both during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and while you are awake.” John Hopkins Medicine
The body produces cortisol during the day and prepares the body for the night time in the afternoon, when melatonin is produced.
It is important to:
- Eat foods that increase melatonin in the evening such as asparagus, tomatoes, pomegranate, olives, grapes, broccoli, cucumber, nuts and seeds.
- Decrease foods that produce cortisol and stress in the evening, such as sugars, and increase food that lower cortisol levels such as dark chocolate, bananas and pears, black or green tea.
- Eat more protein during the day so the hormones are more balanced, enabling a better state to fall asleep.
- Eat more carbs in the afternoon when the body needs the energy, which is why you often feel sleepy in the afternoon right.
- Eliminate eating sugar at night, the body just craves more.
- Eat a healthy dinner around 6-7:00 PM such as a portion of protein, carbohydrates and fiber. This helps you fall asleep and you won’t be looking for food instead of sleeping.
Eating the wrong foods increases your chances of waking up in the middle of the night as well.
3- Subconscious Issues Contributing to Sleeplessness
Our lives are busy, we are on performance mode all day long and we cannot get the quiet we need during the daytime, yet we come home and continue chasing busyness. Coming home, perhaps we are busy with family, want to watch a show, and definitely do not want to miss out on life.
Clients of mine have told me they have to stay awake until 12-1:00 because they have major FOMO – they fear they’re missing out. On what? On life. Usually it’s because they may not be doing what they like at their job, or want to avoid stopping to think and feel, so they stay as busy as they can all day and at night it hits them. They need to be awake for some quiet time.
What I tell them is as follows:
- To take a look at how they’re spending their days
- To make adjustments so they’re happy and fulfilled
- Take short breaks during the day
This way, at night they will feel satisfied enough to go to sleep and not force themselves to stay up too late.
Essential oils calm anxiety, overthinking and promote relaxation. “Researchers found that lavender essential oil increased the amount of slow-and-deep-wave sleep in participants and all participants reported feeling “higher vigor” the next morning.” Healthline
Even small amounts of routine physical activity may improve your sleep and overall well-being. A survey in the U.S. asked participants if they had exercised at all in the past month, and those who had, were one third less likely to report sleep problems and half as likely to report daytime tiredness. American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Lifestyle changes to help you prepare for sleep:
- Reduce watching/reading the news at night
- Dim the light an hour before going to sleep
- Put on light music
- Stay off your phones and screens 1 hours before bedtime. The light in screens interferes with your body’s melatonin production, which is a chemical your brain produces that regulates sleep.
- Don’t ingest caffeine after 2 pm
- Create a bedtime ritual to signal to your brain that your body is going into sleep mode and winding down
Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post talks about the importance of sleep and not skimping on it because it makes you less productive, and less healthy overall. She wrote the bestseller The Sleep Revolution, Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time.
Essential oils for sleep are a great way to start on a path to a better night’s sleep and all the benefits that brings. Start today by plugging in (purchasing) a diffuser, massage some into your skin, ingest them in a capsule.
List of Essential Oils for Sleep
LaCura Sleep Blend LaCura S for Sleep is a combination of lavender, bergamot, thyme, marjoram, and lemon essential oils.
The high-quality essential oils of this unique blend are traditionally known to support the nervous system with sleeping benefits
Lavender For anxiety, overthinking, relaxation
Lavender has an excellent track record in terms of a sleep aid, used in baby products, improves sleep quality and helps with symptoms of mild insomnia and restlessness. Forbes
Lavender calms anxiety with a sedative effect, and helps fall asleep and spend more time in deep, slow wave sleep. American Sleep Assoc.
Ylang Ylang Known as a sedative and relieves anxiety and has a calming effect
Bergamot Calms you down, has been compared to Zoloft
Bergamot works on the gaba receptor neurotransmitter which has an inhibitor effect on the brain, helping you stay asleep longer.
This oil helps slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure and reduce feelings of anxiety. A published study found that the effects of bergamot on improving sleep quality were so positive that 92% of the participants planned to continue its use. Forbes
Lemongrass May help relieve stress and anxiety.
Study participants who received a massage using the oil once a week for 3 weeks had lower diastolic blood pressure than those in the control group. Healthline
Valerian Known to reduce anxiety, helps you fall asleep, and stay asleep for longer
Jasmin Improves sleep quality, has been shown to help with restlessness sleeping
Eucalyptus Helps you breathe easier, clears sinus, used as a chest rub
Peppermint Anti-inflammatory, reducing snoring, mild sleep apnea, clears airways and nose
Clary Sage Reduces cortisol levels, which is known as the stress hormone and is a natural sedative
Sandalwood Sedative effects, aids in relaxation and calms anxiety
Follow my Instagram for more healthy tips: https://www.instagram.com/liatcpharmacist/
For more sleep questions; Liat Chiprut, Pharmacist, Functional Medicine Practitioner
*always seek professional medical advice before beginning any kind of treatment on your own