Health Benefits Of Sleep + A Botanical Ritual For A Tranquil Nights Sleep
How many hours of sleep do you get at night?
Between 8-9 hours of sleep per night is ideal.
Sleep is not a luxury, it's a necessity to keep your body healthy, your energy bouncing and your beauty glowing.
Unfortunately many people underestimate the importance of sleep. If you want to be healthy, be full of energy, maintain a stable weight, emit a radiant glow and stay positive, then sleep needs to be a non-negotiable commitment.
A quality eight hours of sleep every night will rejuvenate your mind, heal your body and calm your spirit. Here are just a few ways:
- Heal and repair your body. While you are getting your shut-eye your body produces extra protein which builds new cells and repairs the damaged ones. This healing process is crucial for maintaining good health and keeping the body from going into inflammation. Ultimately it helps fight disease and any imbalances in the body.
- Reduce stress and anxiety. Not getting enough sleep will raise your blood pressure and elevate the levels of stress hormone (cortisol) in your body. High levels of cortisol and blood pressure can lead to anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, weight gain, memory and concentration impairment as well as insomnia.
- It helps manage your weight. Sleep helps regulate the hormones that affect and control your appetite. When we don’t get enough sleep, our hormone balances are disrupted. Our bodies release ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger. According to The Sleep Diet by Pan Macmillan, “Chronic lack of sleep can also slow down the metabolism…”
- Energises and puts you in a positive mind-frame. We all know how cranky we feel after not enough sleep! Lack of sleep leaves us feeling exhausted, burnt out, irritable and just plain moody. In the long-term if we don’t get enough sleep studies have shown that it can lead to depression or anxiety.
- It is a natural beautifyer. Quality shut-eye will keep your skin flawless and glowing as your skin cells have had the time to repair overnight and your hormones have had a chance to rebalance. Lack of sleep contributes to dull, dehydrated skin and also triggers puffy eyes, dark circles and age spots
- Prevents premature aging. When we get inadequate sleep, our skin tends to look dull and lack-lustre. It also causes fine lines and wrinkles as the skin dehydrates more when we don’t get adequate rest. If you want to fight signs of aging the natural way, never compromise your sleeping habits
Are You Struggling With Sleep? Let's Take A Look At The Lifestyle Habits Having A Negative Effect On Your Shut-Eye Time
It is important to understand your habits and how they could be affecting your sleep patterns. There are certain diet and lifestyle factors that may be stimulating your body and brain which will interfere with your body’s ability to switch-off.
- You’re drinking caffeine after 3pm– this includes coffee, green tea and black tea.
- You’re having a glass of wine, beer or some other alcholic drink after 6pm–alchol stimulates your liver to work overtime which will leave you feeling restless.
- You’re eating sugar at night. Try to stop any sugar intake after 5pm. If you must have an evening sweet treat try making your own refined sugar free vegan treats out of dates, bananas or cacao.
- You’re feeling stressed, anxious or have an overactive mind. Bring your attention to your breathe. Slow mindful breathing releases hormones that will help your mind quieten down.
- You’re exercising at night. When you exercise it activates and revs up your body, no one can sleep well when they have adrenaline coursing through your veins.
- You don’t have the luxury of a quiet room. If you have roads, train-tracks or noisy housemates in close proximity then maybe invest in a pair of quality earplugs.
- You’re on your phone, computer or watching TV right before bed. All forms of electronic media stimulate the brain and make it near impossible to switch off. Turn everything off 1 hour before you want to go to sleep.
- Your room is too bright, too warm or too cold. Invest in some blockout blinds, a fan or a heater/warmer doona.
A Botanical Ritual For A Tranquil Nights Sleep
Get in the habit of preparing yourself for bedtime by following a nurturing sleep time ritual. This will help you unwind from the day, giving you a more peaceful night’s sleep.
- Give yourself a bed time. Work out what time you have to be up for in the morning and make sure you are in bed 9 hours before that time. Turn off all electronic devices and stop all work an hour before bed and to do something that relaxes you.
- Create a sleep sanctuary. Design your bedroom to be peaceful, clean, and clutter-free. Have an electric oil burner/aroma diffuser, journal and good book on your bedside table. It is also important to let your room breathe by ensuring you get plenty of fresh air into your bedroom. Create a soothing space by blocking outside noise, light and temperature extremes. An ideal temperature is about 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius).
- Make a beautiful bed. You spend a third of your life in bed, so why not give it a little more focus and turn it into a welcoming sanctum, a place of peace, tranquillity and sweet dreams? A beautifully made bed will make you smile at the end of a day, and it will become a safe haven that you look forward to every day. To start, make sure you have clean, crisp sheets. For a little added indulgence, try adding lavender oil to your washing machine. Choose sheets and duvet covers that you find beautiful to look at. Each day spray a little lavender or rosemary linen spray on your bed. Read my blog post on how to make a beautiful bed.
- Burn essential oils and dim the lights an hour before bed. Create a relaxing mood by dimming your lights and turning on either your aroma diffuser or electric oil burner to prepare your room with the scent of sleep inducing botanicals. The aroma of essential oils promote wellness and serenity, they are one of nature’s best healers. Some sleep inducing oils include lavender, rose, sweet orange, sandalwood or you may want to purchase a tranquillity blend.
- Treat yourself to a sacred beauty ritual. Relax and detox by soaking in a warm bath infused with lavender oil and Epsom salts. Alternatively, if you prefer to take a shower, add 6 – 8 drops of essential oil or botanical perfume to the corner of your shower floor. Step in and take a 5 minute warm shower. Allow the steam to infuse the essential oils and let the aroma relax you. Close your eyes and take a moment to focus on your breathing. Take 3 deep breaths. With every inhale, breathe in the natural plant scents. With every exhale imagine all your stresses and worries being washed away with the water and down the drain.
- Nourish your skin. It is great to feed your skin with plant oils before you go to sleep at night. While you sleep your body will feed, repair and rejuvenate your skin. Massage your body with a pure plant oil [the no monkey business coconut oil with rosemary and mint is my favourite] that will nourish and hydrate your skin. Take this opportunity to practice positive self-love, showing a little self-acceptance and gratitude to your body. Thanking it for all it is and all that it has the potential to be. Massage a plant oil into your face to feed your skin cells and plump them out whilst you sleep.
- Mindfully sip on a sleep inducing drink. Brew a small pot of herbal tea such as chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, or ginseng, and if it is a hot summer evening put ice in the tea for a lovely refreshing herbal ice tea. Maybe make yourself a chai tea with warm almond milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. One of my favorite unwind drinks is to blend up coconut water, coconut milk, cacao, a couple of dates and a little vanilla paste. This raw coconut cacao bliss smoothie can be drunk cold or hot.
- Listen to some relaxation music. Put on some music that you find relaxing, it can be rainforest sounds, ocean sounds, Celtic sounds, classical music or anything else that you find relaxing. Lay, breathe and let the sounds soothe your soul.
- Meditate. Practice mindful breathing and meditation before bed. Lie in bed and breathe in through your nose, imagine the fresh oxygen flooding your body and nourishing your cells. Then take a big exhale through your nose and imagine all the toxins of the day leaving your body. Some common toxins include: unhealthy foods, smoke, cigarettes, alcohol, negative thoughts, negative people, pollution and past regrets. Fill your body with positive and healing energy. Do this for about 5-10 minutes.
- Keep a Journal. If you're having trouble sleeping because your thoughts are racing at a million miles an hour, take a moment to write it all down. Writing is a great way to block the outside noise and connect with your inner guidance; the answers you seek just might flow from your pen. Buy a beautiful blank notebook and let the words pour from your heart to the pages of the paper. It doesn’t have to be a diary of what happened in your day, it can be a list of things for which you're grateful, some inspiring quotes, new ideas, or just your thoughts about the day.
- Don’t consume any alcohol, coffee or sugar before bed. These will usually wake you up at about 2am in the morning and keep you awake. Make sure you eat dinner at least 2 hours before bed, as your digestion slows down at night and any foods that need to be digested will give you discomfort and disrupt your sleep.
- Don’t exercise too close to bedtime. Exercise releases adrenaline which keeps you awake. Make sure you have at least a three hour gap from the time you exercise to lights out.
- Turn off all electric devices + wifi. The electromagnetic radiation that comes off our mobile phones and wi-fi truly is not good for our DNA. Do your part to reduce your exposure while you sleep by either turning them off or leaving them in another room. Get an old fashioned alarm clock to wake you up instead of your trusty mobile phone.