There are very few problems that cannot be remedied with a good night’s rest.
Absolutely vital to our health, sleep allows our bodies to recharge, recover, and think clearly. Getting your eight hours of sleep per night can help you maintain a positive mindset, better manage stress, improve digestion, enhance mental clarity, regulate metabolism, boost immunity, and so much more.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately 50 to 70 million American adults have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep.
When it comes to staying healthy, your immune system cannot properly defend itself against viruses and dangerous pathogens without adequate rest. While you sleep, your immune system creates and releases cytokines, an important protein essential for good sleep.
When your body is introduced to discomfort, stress, or toxins, it needs an increased amount of certain cytokines in order to create an effective immune response and keep you healthy.
But when you are often sleep-deprived, the body will likely experience decreased production of these protective cytokines.
GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP IS ESSENTIAL TO GOOD HEALTH…SO HOW CAN WE ACHIEVE IT?
Getting ample sleep is especially important as we age. Many older adults find it much harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Any amount of added stress can make it nearly impossible to sleep soundly.
Stress comes in waves. A lot of people experience it before bed due to many different factors. When it is quiet and the stimulation of the day has worn off, it allows our brains to wander and create scenarios that can result in stress.
Our bodies produce melatonin at night, thanks to our circadian rhythm. When the sun goes down, our bodies tend to go into a mode that allows our minds to want to shut down and relax.
If you struggle with anxious thoughts, your body will fight to stay awake through the natural circadian rhythm and make it hard for you to fall asleep. Here's what you can do about it.
8 HELPFUL TIPS FOR OVERCOMING STRESS BEFORE YOU SLEEP
LIMIT SCREEN TIME AT NIGHT
Many experts recommend eliminating all screens at least two hours before bedtime. The blue light emitted from electronics has been shown to reduce melatonin levels in the body, which is an essential hormone required for healthy sleep.
This is because when blue light is emitted from your phone or TV, it essentially tricks your brain into believing it’s still daytime. This makes it more difficult to fall and stay asleep.
GET MORE SUNLIGHT
Whether you’re sitting on your porch or taking a safe walk around the park, getting more daylight can help you maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. In fact, our bodies don't feel fully awake until we take in sunlight with our eyes each morning.
Your body naturally has its own internal clock that is largely responsible for healthy brain function, hormone balance, and sleep quality. This is the circadian rhythm that we keep referring to.
By getting more vitamin D during the day, it will help keep your natural rhythm balanced and send your brain signals when it’s time to hit the sack. Not to mention, vitamin D is great for your skin and overall health.
CONTROL NEWS AND MEDIA INTAKE
It’s normal to want to be “in the know” with the latest news across the world. But with many news outlets focusing largely on fear and anxiety-inducing statistics, it may be better to limit your news and media exposure, especially close to bedtime.
If you’re feeling particularly sensitive or stressed during this time, try setting a limit to social media and news exposure. Maybe check it once or twice a day; in the morning and in the afternoon.
As tempting as it may be to watch around-the-clock coverage, there is often much misinformation and ‘shock headlines’ that only serve to worsen your ability to get a good night's sleep.
In other words, try to become more mindful of the information you are intaking throughout the day. If it’s affecting your mental health negatively, it may be time to try another approach!
AVOID CAFFEINE AFTER 3PM
Although the overall benefits of caffeine are still largely debated, we can all agree that avoiding that big cup of coffee late in the evening is a positive idea at the moment. Caffeine may help enhance focus and boost energy, but since it also stimulates your nervous system, it can also make you feel jittery and affect your ability to fall asleep at night.
Generally remaining in your body for about six to eight hours, try swapping caffeinated beverages for herbal teas or superfood lattes after around 3PM.
KEEP WORK OUTSIDE OF THE BEDROOM
With many of us working from home for the first time, it may be difficult to set healthy boundaries when it comes to workspaces. However, turning your bedroom into an office may have some pretty counterproductive effects when it comes to your sleep schedule.
By mentally and physically separating your sleep space from your workspace, you’ll be better training your mind to separate these two parts of your life. If possible, designate a workspace that is separate from your bedroom, so that your bedroom remains a place reserved for only calmness and relaxation.
TAKE A NAP
If you find yourself tossing and turning at night and struggling to get through the day, it may not be a bad idea to make up a few of those lost hours of sleep with a power nap.
Although this option may not fit into everyone’s schedule, the Sleep Foundation has found that two daily naps, lasting no more than 30 minutes each, may decrease stress and offset some of the immune system damage caused by sleep deprivation.
BREAK A SWEAT
Sometimes when you’re feeling uneasy, you just have to sweat it out! Exercise can help you boost endorphins and feel more productive and positive.
In a review of 29 different clinical studies, it was found that exercise consistently improved overall sleep quality and duration. And remember you don't need an expensive gym membership to break a sweat; it’s still possible to get a great workout from home!
Try jogging or walking around the neighborhood, walking up and down the stairs a few times, lifting weights, or finding a workout routine you can follow on YouTube.
CREATE A RELAXING ROUTINE
A relaxing bedtime routine can ease tension and stress and send signals to your brain that it’s time to unwind and get ready for a good night’s rest. Sit back and relax with some candles, a glass of calming tea, a guided meditation, a good book, or a bubble bath with essential oils and Epsom salts.
Whatever it is that makes you feel at ease, try implementing it for at least 20 minutes before bedtime for a more restful slumber.
All in all, there are ways to reduce stress before bedtime in order to achieve a good night's sleep. Just like anything else that's good for your health, it takes building a routine and putting these new habits to practice. And remember, if you need a little help sleeping, you can rely on natural sleep aids to help get you on track.
Connect with us on social @primalharvest and let us know what you like to do to ensure you're getting enough sleep each night!
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