That caffeinated brew first thing in the morning. That 2:00 pm iced coffee pick-me-up. Those pinging Facebook notifications. The never-ending list of things you have to do tomorrow. There truly is no shortage of culprits keeping you up at night. We know we are supposed to be getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night, there just does not seem to be enough time in the day. If this sounds like you, you might be relieved to know you are not the only one! A recent study by Trinity College Dublin showed that 1 in 7 adults in Ireland is not getting enough sleep. Other factors may also be lurking about and preventing you from getting adequate rest. High levels of caffeine, not moving our bodies enough or overexposure to the blue light emitted from our devices can keep you wired and awake longer than you would like. Getting restorative sleep is as important to your well-being as food, water, and medicine. Without proper rest, you start to lose your alertness, experience mood swings, become prone to accidents, and even your sanity is compromised. The key to getting a good night’s sleep is to set yourself up for success with a relaxing bedtime routine.
Creating Your Bedtime Routine
Humans are creatures of habit. In fact, routines are part of our anatomy. Our bodies operate off of a 24-hour internal clock that works hand-in-hand with our circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms control bodily functions such as digestion, hormone release, and sleep cycles. When our circadian rhythms are in-tune, we start to feel sleepy and wake up around the same time each night and morning. They are also highly sensitive. Our circadian rhythms can be thrown off from shift work, jet lag, spending too much time on our electronic devices, and of course, stress. This disruption can lead to us lying awake well into the night and smashing our snooze buttons come morning. Creating and sticking to a bedtime routine helps reset our circadian rhythm and gets us back on track.
You can customise your routine however you like; the important part is that you are reducing your stress and anxiety and promoting relaxation. Some of my favorite suggestions to add to your bedtime routine tonight are:
- Meditation: Meditation reinforces the mind-body connection and can help you decompress after especially hectic days. There are fantastic guided meditations on YouTube that are perfect for introducing beginners to the practice of meditation and mindfulness.
- Write it down: Our minds cannot slow down if we are constantly worrying and thinking about what tomorrow holds. Instead of lying awake thinking about all the things you need to do, keep a notepad by your bedside and each night write down the tasks you want to accomplish tomorrow or a few key reminders. Having a physical copy of your thoughts allows you to release that anxiety and have peace of mind.
- Read: Unwind with a chapter of your latest book each night. Not only is this a great de-stressor, but your eyes will thank you for the break from your screen!
- Take a Break from Screens: Speaking of screens, we could all benefit from a little less time on them. Most of us spend all day staring at a screen for work only to come home and continue to stare at screens of all sizes hoping they will help us relax. However, the blue light emitted from the screens stimulates our minds. Plus, the additional scrolling in bed keeps us awake far longer than we intended to be. Commit to turning off your screens at least 30 minutes before falling asleep. Also, you can invest in a trusty pair of blue-light-blocking glasses to further reduce your exposure and prevent eye strain.
- Set the scene: Make your bedroom a sanctuary. Invest in quality bedding. Hang room-darkening curtains. Remove as much technology as possible. You can even introduce a lamp with a red light bulb to counteract that pesky blue light. Also, consider adding an essential oil diffuser to your décor. Essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, and cedarwood have been shown to promote relaxation and better sleep.
- Take a Bath: The occasional bath helps both our bodies and minds unwind. The warm water can soothe aching muscles and joints while giving us some much-needed quiet time. For an elevated experience, consider adding a handful of healing herbs to your bath water. (herbal teas such as our HealthTea’s are perfect for this, either use tea bags or a spoon of herbs into old tights, tie and pop it in as you run your bath). Your body can reap the benefits of herbs such as eucalyptus and rosemary as it soaks through your skin and you inhale the aromas. You will be ready for bed once you get out of the water – if you don’t fall asleep in it first!
- Lower Your Caffeine: Caffeine can be a wonderful boost in the mid-morning. However, when we consume too much caffeine later in the day, it can keep us wired when we are trying to wind down. Consider switching your caffeinated beverages for herbal teas. Personally, if I drink a tea or a coffee after 6pm I can kiss goodbye to my 8 hours! Our Serenitea blend is perfect for the evening time and chock full of anxiety-reducing, peace-promoting herbs such as passionflower herb, chamomile, rose petals, lavender, and melissa officinalis.
Herbs You Need for the Best Rest Yet
When I was creating our Serenitea blend, I wanted to infuse it with the most potent sleep-inducing herbs available. Herbs are a powerful tool we can harness to heal and heighten our bodies especially when used regularly. They are also adaptable; you can use them in aromatherapy, baths, essential oils, cooking, and teas. Finding ways to incorporate these holistic helpers into your daily routine can drastically improve both the amount and quality of your sleep. For your best night’s sleep yet, I recommended these top 5 herbs:
- Melissa officinalis: Melissa officinalis, otherwise known as lemon balm, is an herb that has strongly been shown to relieve stress and anxiety. Also, a study out of Germany showed that children who drank tea containing melissa officinalis before bed experienced drastic improvements in restless and insomnia.
- Lavender: Lavender has been one of the most popular herbs used for relaxation – and for good reason! Lavender is a powerful sedative that lulls the brain and nervous system and induces relaxation. A study out of Wesleyan University demonstrated that the use of lavender increased the percentage of deep sleep participants were getting. An additional perk was participants reported an added vigor the morning after they used lavender.
- Chamomile: You may already have a few bags of chamomile tea in your cupboard because you love the taste. The great news is you will also love the science inside of that teabag. Chamomile contains apigenin. Apigenin is a chemical that interacts with GABA receptors in our brains. These GABA receptors are also known to interact with anti-anxiety medications. When the apigenin from the chamomile binds to our GABA receptors, we quickly experience a relaxing effect that helps lull us to sleep.
- Rose petals: Rose petals have been a staple ingredient in perfumes and skin care for centuries. However, they also serve as a potent antioxidant with relaxing, destressing, and antidepressant effects. Incorporating rose petals into your wind-down routine can help you get better sleep while also reducing mood swings and fatigue.
- Passionflower herb: Finally, passionflower herb is lesser-known than some of the other herbs on this list, but it is wildly powerful in combating insomnia. A recent study out of the Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine showed that participants who used passionflower herb experienced more, higher quality, and less disturbed sleep.
Breus, D. M. (2018, August 7). The Relaxing, Sleep-Promoting, Health-Boosting Powers Of Lavender. Your Guide to Better Sleep. Available at: https://thesleepdoctor.com/2018/08/07/the-relaxing-sleep-promoting-health-boosting-powers-of-lavender/.
Goel, N., Kim, H., & Lao, R. P. (2005). An olfactory stimulus modifies nighttime sleep in young men and women. Chronobiology international, 22(5), 889–904. https://doi.org/10.1080/07420520500263276
Lee, J., Jung, H. Y., Lee, S. I., Choi, J. H., & Kim, S. G. (2020). Effects of Passiflora incarnata Linnaeus on polysomnographic sleep parameters in subjects with insomnia disorder: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study. International clinical psychopharmacology, 35(1), 29–35. https://doi.org/10.1097/YIC.0000000000000291
Müller, S. F., & Klement, S. (2006). A combination of valerian and lemon balm is effective in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children. Phytomedicine, 13(6), 383–387. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2006.01.013
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understanding-Sleep
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