“3 o’clock in the morning & it looks like it’s going to be another sleepless night,” (“Talking in Your Sleep” by Roger F Cook & Bobby Wood). And yes, these are the words to a country song, circa 1978, but it also seems to be the story of my life. My friends know that I am often up at 3 am. Most of the time I’m reading a book, but I will admit to writing this blog because I am wide awake and I can’t sleep. This has been happening since my early 20’s and I have to admit that I’m tired of being tired. Research has shown that a lack of sleep can seriously impact our health. Sleep allows the body to recharge our immune system so we can fight off colds & infections, and it gives the body a break from all of the stress in our daily lives. When you have ongoing sleep issues it may be time to look at the body’s natural timekeeping system or your circadian rhythm, which affects:
your body temperature
your sleep and wakefulness cycle
your blood pressure
hormones being released into your body.
For most people, the length of a complete circadian cycle is very close to 24 hours.”So it makes sense to pay attention to and follow your body's natural schedule as much as you can. (like being exposed to sunlight and darkness at the appropriate time of day). Some ideas to consider… In the morning:
try to get outside, go into your backyard or on your deck, and take a deep breath or two. It will help to ground you. Being exposed to the sunlight gets you into the wakefulness part of your circadian cycle.
The morning is a good time to use an uplifting essential oil either in your diffuser or just doing a quick inhalation from the bottle. Try a Citrus like Grapefruit or Lemon, or maybe consider Sweet Basil or Spearmint.
Limit your caffeinated beverages to one in the morning and one around 3 pm.
If you have the time, try to fit in your daily workout.
Lunchtime: There are foods that you can eat that may help you sleep better. Ones to consider:
Tuna or Shrimp
(All contain tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps the body make melatonin, Kale & Spinach have a lot of calcium which helps the brain use tryptophan to manufacture melatonin.) 2 – 4 pm in the afternoon: Our body temperature lowers between 2 pm & 4 pm (just like it does at night) which tends to signal to us that it is time for sleep. This is the time of day that most people want to take a nap (I know I do). Now would be a good time to:
Get up and move around, and if you are able, take a short walk preferably outside for a few minutes.
Have your last caffeinated beverage of the day
Snack on almonds, they are rich in magnesium, a mineral needed for quality sleep
In the evening:
Limit the use of electronics to earlier in the evening. (There are apps that will dim the lights on the screen as you are winding down for the night.)
Put a relaxing essential oil or blend into your diffuser and take a moment to enjoy the scent.
Start a ritual of self-care & unwind before bed. Take a bath, dim the lights, put on some soft music, whatever will help you to relax.
Switch to drinking Herbal teas like Lemon Balm, it's good for stress.
And at bedtime:
Lower the temperature in your bedroom if at all possible.
Find a good pillow (I’m still searching).
Turn off the notifications on your phone. I hate being woken up to the Mario Brothers coin sound when I get an email notification at 4:10 a.m. for something that I don’t even want.
Essential Oils to use for Relaxing: Some people think that if less is good, more would be better. This is not the case with essential oils. Some essential oils like Lavender & Sweet Orange are relaxing in small amounts & stimulating in larger amounts. With essential oils, less is always better. Here are a few of my favorite Relaxing Essential Oils: Lavender: one oil that most people know and a good place to start if you are new to essential oils. It is relaxing and can be diffused for children and adults alike. Chamomile, Roman: is a gentle relaxing essential oil, perfect for children when used in small amounts. Red Mandarin & Sweet Orange: these oils are extracted from the rind of the fruit, they smell amazing and most people, especially children really like them.
Sweet Marjoram: a relaxing oil that I really like. It has a green herbal scent. Cedarwood: a sedating oil that helps to calm the mind so you can sleep. Frankincense: calms your breathing and may help you to relax if you are feeling stressed or anxious.
Patchouli: a base note essential oil that is grounding, meditative and relaxing. Vetiver: a base note that is meditative with an interesting scent. Really! It smells like dirt. But I love its relaxing feel and I’ve grown to like the scent. The easiest way to use essential oil at bedtime is to diffuse it in your electric diffuser that has a timer, so you don’t have to worry about it. (Use it for 30 min or use the intermittent setting.) You can also dilute essential oils in a carrier oil or unscented lotion and massage it into your skin after a bath. (Always dilute essential oils before topical use). So take a moment for yourself, make a few small changes in your lifestyle & your environment, it can go a long way to helping you have a better night's sleep.
My Blog is for general information only & is not meant to diagnose or replace medical advice. Essential Oils are for external use only & should always be diluted before topical use. My blog doesn't include all of the precautions or possible interactions that may occur.
References Battaglia, Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd ed. Brisbane: International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, 2004. Print. Davis, Patricia, Aromatherapy: An A-Z. London: Vermilion, 2005. Print. Lawless, Julia. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils in Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health & Well-being. London: Thorsons, 2002. Print. http://www.quinessence.com/blog/essential-oils-for-insomnia