Looking to amp up your health profile? Summer can be a great time to catch up on some sleep and start some new positive sleep habits. Isn't it fascinating that there are so many recent studies that are entirely dedicated to exploring the strong connection between sleep and health. There's one that compares humans to fruit flies (what?? we're similar in this!!!) and metabolic changes with sleep for each of us, which has a huge impact on the way we deal with pathology. Another study says that if we get less than 6 hours, we're 28% more likely to catch a cold! And for flu, ear infections and pneumonia -- short sleepers had more than 80 percent higher odds of having an infection. "People who sleep five or fewer hours on average are at substantially increased risk for both colds whether head or chest or other infections, compared to people who sleep seven to eight hours on average," said study researcher Aric Prather, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco. Also to note: the CDC considers less than 7 hours a night sleep deprivation!
So, how to deal?
Seven Selective & Super Simple Slumber Suggestions
Tea - a lovely herbal tea can help calm and settle both the body and the mind after a busy day. But remember - no caffeine too late.
Epsom salt bath - magnesium is a relaxant and that, combined with a warm soak does wonders for inducing the Zzzz's. Try adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to the bath for even more zen moments.
Journaling - if you have a hard time turning off mentally, it can help to jot down your thoughts, good or bad. You can even shred the writing when you're done - it's just the act of purging from your mind, not where it ultimately lands (the garbage can.)
Set an alarm - why use one for only waking? How easy is it for us to have the best of intentions, only to realize 90 minutes past our "intention" that we're still reading, playing scrabble, paying bills,... Try setting your alarm for your sleep time tonight!
Melatonin -This hormone regulates sleep and wake cycles, and is in food. High amounts are found in tart cherries (and tart-cherry juice), walnuts and under-ripe bananas. We need darkness to increase melatonin production, which is why it’s so important to shut out all light from your bedroom. Spend time in morning’s sunlight to cue a melatonin decrease and help establish a strong day/night melatonin cycle. Take your breakfast outside!
Exercise -Vigorous exercise helps fatigue muscles, which makes for a more restful, restorative sleep. But if you work out too late in the evening, the stimulation makes it hard to fall asleep. Instead, do some light yoga stretches. Child’s Pose is good for relaxation. Lie face-down on the floor and curl into yourself, then breathe deeply into your rib cage and your back. Wrap up this mini-yoga session by lying on your back and continuing to breathe deeply in Savasana.
Nap - if you know me, you know my middle name should legally be changed to "Nap." I love my naps as a time to both catch up on sleep and recharge for the rest of the day. I can't fit them in daily, but whenever I can, I like to snooze for 20-30 minutes. It adds up and does help.