Uninterrupted, restful sleep is a cornerstone of mind.body health.
We have all experienced the result of a poor night’s sleep: brain fog, lack of focus, mood swings, irritability, and fatigue, but sleep is also vital to the proper functioning of our immune system, blood sugar regulation, appetite, stress response, hormone production, muscle-building & repair, and more.
If you’re not getting at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night, then you're likely experiencing the effects of sleep deprivation on some level.
Human hormonal patterns and behavior (as well as plants, animals, and even fungi) are driven by a circadian rhythm (24 hour cycle) attuned to the light exposure we receive from the sun.
When the sun rises, we naturally wake in the morning and we get sleepy in the evening after the sun sets thanks to light-sensitive areas in our brain (pineal gland) that regulate melatonin production, the master hormone that controls our sleep-wake state. The amount of light that our eyes take in and when affects melatonin production, sleep quality, and sleep quantity, which is why artificial light in the evening hours can be so detrimental to our sleep & hormonal cycles. Take a closer look at your daily light exposures & experiment with the ideas below for connecting to the sun each day and honoring a more natural sleep environment for restful sleep each night.
The earlier you experience light in the morning, the earlier you will be ready for sleep in the evening. Get outdoors to greet the sunrise in the morning or open all of your blinds to let morning light flood your home to help you wake up and recalibrate your circadian rhythm. It may take several days or weeks for this shift to fully occur, but you'll experience deeper relaxation in the evening and a better night’s sleep with this one little change.
If this ritual is not possible for you, the next best thing is to use a Verilux light to bring full spectrum light indoors in the morning, anywhere in your home.
(re)Wild your bedtime routine with these simple tips to make your sleep environment more earthen and in tune with your natural rhythms:
In the evening after the sun has set (or at least an hour before bedtime ~ 9pm) turn off all unnecessary lights and dim the remaining lights you need, light candles (safely), or use a salt lamp for a warm glow (my favorite): Himalayan Salt Lamps. You can also purchase special light filtering eyeglasses or lightbulbs to eliminate the blue light spectrum that is the most sleep disturbing.
Shut down screens 1-2 hours before bed and use software like f.lux to change the light temperature of your screens in the evening. Apple devices have this feature built-in.
Install light-blocking window shades to block out as much artificial light as possible from street lamps and light pollution in your bedroom (or consider using an eye mask).
Reduce the # of electronics in your bedroom or unplug them at night to reduce electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and light that can disturb sleep.
Use a grounding blanket or mattress pad to simulate the anti-inflammatory effects of sleeping on the earth: Earthing.com.
If your phone doubles as your alarm, set your phone to airplane mode while you sleep to reduce EMFs.
Set the thermostat to ~ 65-70 degrees for optimal core body temperature. When your core body temperature gets too hot, you will wake easily and feel restless.
Invest in a mattress and linens that are soft, comforting, breathable, non-toxic, and made from natural materials (cotton, wool, down, and latex): The Natural Sleep Store.
Sleep Supplements to Reset Your Circadian Rhythm
Magnesium Citrate or Magnesium Glycinate: 120-450mg, 30-60 minutes before bed
4-8 oz of cold, unsweetened Tart Cherry Juice (contains natural melatonin and cools your core body temperature for better sleep, especially for women). Available at most grocery stores.
Lavender or Serenity Blend doTERRA essential oil spray for your pillow/pajamas or essential oil diluted in carrier oil for your feet: Essential Oil Sleep Kit
Relaxing herbal te