"I'll sleep when I am dead," "sleep is for wimps," "who needs sleep," "I'm too busy to sleep" were once common societal phrases. But times are a changing! Sleep is now an uncontested requirement of good health and has become one of the most widely talked about topics in the health, medical and sports fields. There is now an overwhelming body of evidence that confirms this.
Most of us have experienced the negative impacts of poor sleep first hand.
Cranky, hungry, easily irritated, headaches, brain fog, low motivation - and that's just me after a single night of poor or shortened sleep!
As it turns out sleep deprivation doesn’t just cause long-term health issues like depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, memory loss and death. It also exhibits immediate short-term negative impacts as well. These include decreased stress tolerance, decreased cognitive function, immune dysfunction and emotional instability. Are there any new mothers out there nodding their heads?
Sleep-deprived people report significantly greater subjective stress, anger, anxiety, and response to low-grade stress. Sleep loss also increases cortisol levels, which can be the beginning of Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal axis dysfunction (aka Adrenal Fatigue), and sleep deprivation also decreases short-term memory, reduces learning capacity, and causes a decline in mental stamina and reduction in attention. Not what we want for our children or ourselves!
Lack of sleep can be viewed as a chronic stressor. As the body tries to maintain homeostasis, sleep deprivation overloads the body’s capacity to do that, which results in increased disease risk.
So if you are:
- Sleeping less than 7 hours a night?
- Struggling to fall to sleep?
- Waking often during the night?
- Feel like your becoming more forgetful, exhausted, unable to focus, unable to deal with stress?
- Not recovering well from exercise?
- Are craving sugar and or food all day?
Then it is time you start prioritizing and nailing your sleep ASAP! And it starts well before bedtime.
1. Expose your skin and eyes to at least 30 minutes of sunlight every day (that is without sunglasses or sunscreen).
- When we absorb UVB rays through our skin, that leads to the production of the fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamins D (super duper important and Aussies are becoming alarmingly more deficient).
- Vit D triggers an enzyme called tryptophan hydroxylase which converts tryptophan into serotonin.
- Serotonin if you haven't heard is a really important neurotransmitter that regulates behavior, appetite, perceptions, memory, and emotions. It's our happy chemical.
- Serotonin can then be converted into melatonin, our sleep hormone.
- This can be broken up into morning, midday and afternoon. For example, eat your breakfast outside, enjoy your lunch or simply take a break and step out of the office.
2. Power down your lights as the sun goes down
- Yep bring out the candles, turn off the ceiling lights and turn on the lamps.
- You also want to avoid looking into your electronic devices including the TV.
- Most electronic devices do have a form of night mode or brightness lowering action. Make sure this is on and set.
- Blue light is so much more suppressive on melatonin production (our sleep hormone).
- If the above all seems too hard for you but you're really serious, which you should be, get yourself some orange tinted glasses to pop on as the sun goes down.
3. Optimise you sleep nutrition
- Most people do best to go to bed neither too hungry nor too full.
- In terms of macronutrients, both very low-fat and very low-carb diets can also lead to insomnia.
- Carbs increase the ability of tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin, to enter the pineal gland, so if you are on a low-carb diet and are having trouble sleeping, increasing carbs can make a huge difference.
- Glycine (an amino acid found in collagen-rich foods like bone broth or meat on the bone dishes) also promotes the uptake of tryptophan and the production of serotonin and melatonin, so eating eat nose-to-tail and making sure you are getting adequate glycine or you can supplement with either gelatin or glycine at night can help.
- Pre-Bed smoothie: Blend a banana + 2 Tblsp Great Lakes Collagen + Your choice of milk + cinnamon + vanilla powder + Coconut Yoghurt.
4. Take a warm shower before bed, even better take a warm bath
- Baths are one of those things when you have them you never use them but when you don't all you dream about is taking a bath
- Hot water causes vasodilation of the blood vessels in your body which results in a decrease in sympathetic tone, therefore, gives you that "Awwww" feeling when standing and sitting in warm water.
- This can be an easy and effective strategy for getting you into a more restful state prior to sleep.
5. Essential oils
- Essential oils contain super small compounds that when applied to the skin can rapidly penetrate the tissues and enter the bloodstream exerting their many effects of which calming, relaxing and soothing can help with sleep
- The chemical components in Lavender essential oil have been shown to enter the bloodstream within 5 minutes of massaging the oil on the skin. The 1992 study that showed this, also demonstrated that maximum concentration levels were observed within 20 minutes and most of the lavender was eliminated at 90 minutes.
- This may seem like a bad thing but I see it as a huge advantage as most sleep medications take hours if not days to be eliminated from your body and often require metabolism and elimination via our liver or kidneys. This can put pressure on those systems and often leave residual side effects. In the words of a 2014 systematic review of the literature, “A majority of the study findings suggested a positive effect of essential oils for sleep. Lavender was the most frequently studied essential oil. No adverse events were reported.”
Now it isn' just Lavender oil that helps with sleep albeit it's a goodie and has the most research behind it.
I've never had a problem with my sleep. But the first time I applied my doTERRA Lavender to my temples before bed and diffused it beside my bed I woke up having experienced a different level of sleep. It literally felt like I went to La La Land. This has been one of the biggest feedbacks I have received from peeps in my oily tribe. And if you want to step it up to the next level... Lavender Peace Baby! A blend of lavender, cedarwood, Ho Wood, Ylang Ylang, Marjoram, Roman Chamomile, Vetiver, Hawaiian Sandalwood). Peace had me in a dream state, which I actually don't usually achieve.
Ok, so what if you aren't a lavender fan (gasp). What other oils can help with sleep:
A lot actually so I will try to narrow it down:
- Vetiver (referred to as "liquid valium")
- Roman Chamomile
- Juniper Berry (often used for night terrors)
- Ylang Ylang
- Clary Sage
DoTerra actually has a whole PDF on sleep and essential oils. Sing out if you want it ok.
How to use essential oils for sleep:
- 1-2 drops in the diffuser next to your bed. Goodnight!
- Apply 1-2 drops on your temples and to the back of your neck
- Drop a few drops onto the floor of your shower and let the steam lift the aroma. Plus, you'll feel all goddessy as the smell seeps into your hair and skin (Clary Sage, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Roman Chamomile work well for this as they are great for skin too)
- Add a few drops (or more) with some Epsom salts into a warm bath (and be grateful you have a bath you lucky duck)
- Make up a pillow spritzer with a few drops of essential oil in water and mist over your pillow. Don't saturate it, that wouldn't be cool!
- Apply to the soles of your feet. This is a good way when using oils for sleep with children. Remeber always dilute, use less oil than you would on an adult and stick to oils like Frank, Lavender, Roman Chamomile that tend to be very gentle.
- Add to your tea. eg. Roman chamomile to your chamomile tea or Bergamot to your earl grey.
- Con your partner into a message - you deserve it Babe!
There you have it. Try these five super simple yet very effective routines TODAY and continue for the next month. Report back!
If you are still struggling with low energy, fatigue, inability to recover, hormonal issues, gut issues, sleep problems then it is time to dig a little deeper. You can request to work with me here.
And if you want to get your hands on beautiful quality, pure and potent doTERRA essential oils to support your sleep and so much more then please reach out! You can also take a read of why I chose to incorporate doTERRA essential oils into my business here and the low down on how to order them here.