Natural Ways to Boost Sleep + Relaxation

“Sleep is the best meditation.” ~Dali Lama

Happy Saturday folks! I hope everyone has something fun, rejuvenating, a mix of both planned for this weekend.

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Spotted on my walk. First blossoms of the year!

At work, I consistently hear my clients and coworkers talk about the insomnia they struggle with, their inability to fall and stay asleep, anxious thoughts that wake them up, and the always racing mind and quick beating heart that doesn’t allow relaxation and inner zen. We all know that sleep is incredibly important. When thinking about the goals and plans you have for yourself, proper sleep helps you achieve these, as well as approach your life in a more positive and productive way. Quality sleep increases libido, improves ability to lose weight, and promotes healthy mentalities. Another benefit includes brighter, clearer, and younger skin. Many people may rely on sleeping medications, or an alcohol nightcap, to get a “restful” night of sleep, however this is a bandaid solution.  It masks the problem rather than getting to the root of the problem. Today I want to talk about some simple and intuitive ways you can start working on sleeping and relaxing more peacefully.

1. Leave your work at work. Don’t login to work email if you can help it once you leave the office. Remember that thinking about what’s on your plate for tomorrow at work won’t change anything, other than your stress level. Make your home a place that promotes relaxation and positivity, sans the work overwhelm. Once the end of the day comes at work, know that you can go home and have the evening free to spend your time doing and thinking of other activities outside of the office. If you work from home, create a special office area and don’t enter it after dinnertime.

2. Turn your bedroom into a zen, peaceful zone. Light candles, simplify your room, keep it clean and clutter free. Have bright plants, choose cooling colors, make your room a safe and peaceful space where you want to be. Take down any posters that may encourage nightmares, stress, or overwhelm, such as any movie posters about violence, or pictures of old friends who aren’t supportive or kind to you. Think of all the things and places in life that make you happy and create a mini oasis including all of these things in your room. For example, the beach is my happy place so my tapestry replicates ocean colors, and I have ocean scented candles.

3. Create a stellar bedtime routine. Pick a few things to do each evening that feel manageable to incorporate into daily routine. Give yourself a pattern of several calming tasks you can accomplish so that your body and mind recognize bedtime, and begin to wind down. For example, you can brush your teeth, wash your face, and read a book before bed each night. Nothing fancy or extensive, just something that will work for you.

4. Sip on tea, and leave the caffeine for the mornings. Bedtime tea’s ingredient list includes lots of plant blends designed to help you sleep better. Try to have your coffee and caffeinated teas before the afternoon, so your brain isn’t wired close to bedtime.

5. Shower in the evenings, and have unwinding beauty rituals. I know a lot of people like their morning showers to wake them up, but showering in the evening is one of the most relaxing things you can do. You can make it a stress relieving process, rinsing off the day without anywhere to hurry off to. I like using Frank’s body scrub (not related to Frank’s hot sauce), and the blend I have smells like coconut and coffee. Remove all your makeup, and find skin care products that have calming scents, like lavender. I lather up with coconut oil every evening (or when I remember….) and use lavender face cream, as well as lavender essential oils.

6. Start a gratitude practice. Sometimes you feel really crummy at the end of the day. Things didn’t go your way, you’re feeling stressed, anxious, upset, hurt. It’s important everyday, but especially on these days, to try to see the good within the bad, so that you don’t toss and turn with negative thoughts all night. I encourage you to start a gratitude practice, thinking of 7 positive things you are thankful for each day. I’m not sure why I choose 7, your number can be anything. You can write on anything from backs of receipts to corners of notebook pages- it doesn’t have to be in a fancy journal. Or, you can just think of these things. It can be anything from “I am thankful for my supportive boss” to “I am happy that the sun shined today” or “I am grateful that I finally get to go to bed today.”

7. Eat dinner/evening snacks way before bedtime. Eating before bed promotes insomnia, heartburn, and weight gain.

8. Spend more time in nature. Being outside promotes serotonin production in the brain (the feel good chemical), which helps to produce and improve the level of the sleep hormone, melatonin, at night.

9. Do some breathing exercises as you’re winding down. Focusing on your breath helps you ground back into your body, calms the rapid thoughts, and relaxes the muscles. So simple yet so effective. Count the number of seconds it takes to take a breath in, and count how many seconds it takes to blow the air out. Concentrating on this calms the body and the mind.

There you have it! I hope you learned something new today, and start to think about incorporating one or more of these tips into your daily life. Happy ZZZ’s! XOXO

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