We consider sleep secondary to waking, a servant to our day, when sleep is equally as important as our active waking hours. In fact what happens when we sleep is we organically engage the parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest mode which resets our body's ability to heal and repair.
Insomnia and sleep disorders are the cause of an infinite number of chronic illnesses and mood disorders. To name a few, insulin resistance, depression, obesity, poor digestion, brain fog, stress related auto immune diseases and the list continues, so why do we focus so little attention on our sleep habits?
No one says they like being an insomniac, that they enjoy tossing and turning all night, right? Even fewer of us enjoy having the dull eyes and dull skin associated with lack of sleep. When we allow sleep to convert our nervous system from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic and let the body begin it's auto scanning and healing of tissues and organs we are doing are waking hours a serious favor, and this is what happens in just part of our sleep cycle, the next is dreaming. When we dream we are healing our emotional body, working out the monkey mind through dream time. The brain actually processes emotional trauma and works on facing fears and hurts in this sacred time. Ever hear people tell you they don't dream? Or they don't remember? Chances are they are not reaching this stage of the sleep cycle, maybe it is interrupted by waking to go to the bathroom, or sleep has been artificially induced by alcohol, marijuana, even melatonin and chamomile are artificially bringing you to sleep. It is not say that all of these things are bad but simply to clarify that you are giving your body a push or nudge to bring about sleep as opposed to creating a natural rhythm of sleeping and waking.
Let's talk for a moment about this natural rhythm, it is called a circadian rhythm and our hyper connectivity to screens and artificial lighting as well as our social conditioning has thrown us off this natural rhythm completely. So what is the natural circadian rhythm?? It's simple, wake with the sun, eat your biggest meals early in the day, have highest activity before 2 pm, and start to wind down in the evening, lighter meal, soft relaxing activities and no screens, and minimal artificial lighting, go to sleep within no more than three hours of sunset.
I bet you realized a few things that you have inverted in your own days or at the very least could see how you are not in an optimal circadian rhythm with your day.
In honor of national sleep day I thought I'd share a list of how to bring your sleep cycles back to balance.
As you begin you may want to start the shift slowly, turn of your devices an hour before bed, instead of bringing them to bed with you and plugging them in right next to you, I know you do. Try moving them out of your bedroom all together and get an old fashioned alarm clock, after tuning your rhythms you won't even need that!
Eat a light meal at sunset no later, giving your body time to digest before you lay down.
While I love teas before bed know that teas like chamomile are actually diuretics, aptly they could be named pee pee tea! So opt instead for a ritual of moon milk, an ancient aryuvedic tradition of drinking warm milks with adaptogenic herbs before bed to soothe the belly and clear the mind. Find my recipe below for a "rosy hued you" moon milk.
Make sure you can block as much light as possible, make your room a cocoon of darkness at night, eliminate artificial sounds.
Find some relaxing rituals: soaking in a tub with salts, light candles, do a yin practice, or yoga nidra, read a book, take time for self care and manicuring.
I offer you an introduction to yoga nidra: here
Yoga nidra is a guided meditation practice done lying down, sleep is gently invited into the body.
"rosy hued you"
1/2 tsp Coconut cream powder,
1 tsp Beet powder| the super food that
roots you down, restores
circulation + builds blood
1/2 tsp Ashwaganda | the
adaptogen that acts as a
natural anti anxiety
1/2 tsp Tocos | rich and creamy
vitamin E phytonutrients
helps hydrate the skin and connective tissues.
warm coconut or oat or almond milk, froth to make fancy, add all above powders and additional honey to sweeten. Sip and melt away nervous energy.