Beauty Sleep?

Earlier this month, most of us rolled back our clocks and got an extra hour of sleep, but it’s not likely that was enough to help us catch up on our sleep deficit.  The United States is the most hard-working, sleep-deprived nation in the world, and it has major effects on our hormonal balance. We now know that sleep deprivation is one factor for obesity and other disorders. Most people need seven to nine hours of sleep to arise feeling rested. If you feel groggy and tired in the morning, it may mean you need a sleep test, but first and foremost we need  to take a good look at our lifestyle.

A good night’s sleep starts well before light’s out. First of all, we need to enhance our environment. It starts in the morning—make your bed! There is something so soothing about peeling back smooth, cool sheets rather than a tangled mess of fabric.  Make sure you love your bed, your  mattress and your sheets! Go for the luxury of high thread count or consider soft, eco-friendly bamboo fabric sheets that are becoming readily available. Studies show that we sleep better in cooler temperatures. And one little side note and PSA : cooler temps and the presence of a gentle fan moving air in a baby’s room decreases the risk Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS.)

Feng shui principles encourage a sturdy head board and not pointing the foot of the bed toward the door to improve energy flow in the room.  The room should be painted a peaceful color, and clutter should be at a minimum. If possible, the room also functions as an office or TV space.  Darkness is important for deep sleep, but our many gadgets get  in the way. Even the subtle red light from your cell phone, the power cords, or the TV even when it’s off can pose a problem. Tuck gadgets away and certainly away from the head of the bed to minimize this light pollution.
If you have a bed partner,  snoring can be a major issue, not only diminishing your sleep success, but perhaps indicating sleep apnea.  Snoring is also an independent risk factor for high blood pressure. It’s no longer an annoyance or a joke, it’s a health threat,  and needs to be investigated.
Some people find the subtle fragrance of essential oils, especially lavender, vanilla and sandalwood  to have a calming, soothing effect. Melatonin can enhance sleep for many people.

So the stage is set, though you’re not quite done! It is really hard on your metabolism and your stomach to go to bed shortly after a heavy meal, especially with alcohol. Alcohol initially is a system depressant, making it easier to fall asleep, but in later phases becomes a stimulant, causing early awakening  and agitation.  It’s best to finish your evening meal 3-4 hours before bedtime. And some people are very sensitive to caffeine, especially as we age, so be aware of your caffeine time-out. For some, its after noon hour.

The last great sleep tip I have is to use a handy journal.  First use  it to recall your five best moments of the day—a great phone call, a beautiful sunset, a witty saying by your spouse or hug from your child, polished toenails,  a wonderful healthy meal.  With a little practice, being  aware of and grateful for these little moments  that make up our big lives becomes second nature. The act of writing stimulates more connections in our brain, and helps us remember them and be open to remembering so many more!  Next if you have any worries, put it briefly on the page. Writing can be cathartic, and if it’s still bothering you in the AM, it will be there for you to deal with. Lastly, if you have any TO DO’s that you’ve forgotten to record elsewhere, put it down here, and transfer in the morning. You’d be amazed at how many people have trouble falling asleep because they have so much to do and and so many worries that they worry they’ll forget! Minds are racing, no wonder we’re tired!  Write in on the page,  rest your weary mind,  and get a great night of beauty sleep! For beauty is health made manifest.