5 Keys to Great, Restorative Sleep

I am grateful to be a very good sleeper. However, the flip side is that when I don’t sleep well, I turn into a cranky zombie. To keep myself sane (and to protect everyone around me) I'm always searching for the best ways to get deep sleep. 

Good sleep is of the most important keys to a healthy body. You can be doing everything "right," but without good sleep, your body has little chance to rejuvenate, restore and heal.

Here are 5 keys to deep, restorative sleep: 

Alcohol.  

Unfortunately, no, I’m not advocating more of it. Even just one drink can interrupt sleep patterns and result in waking up frequently in the middle of the night. Alcohol and drugs do not fully allow our bodies to fall into REM sleep; that's why you never really feel restored even after just one drink.

I understand that a zero alcohol policy may be too extreme, so experiment. Drink less, find a substitute way to treat yourself, or pay attention to which kinds of alcohol affect your sleep the least and go for that option.

Yoga. 

It’s very easy to do a few yoga poses right before bed or even in your bed. As you lay there, just pick your legs up and do a few moves. These three are my favorite adrenal-soothing poses, lowering adrenaline and cortisol, and helping your body to fully relax. All of these are done laying flat on your back.
  1. Bring your legs and sit bone up against the bed frame and let the blood in your legs drain into your core. Breathe. 
  2. Legs in butterfly pose to open up the kidney and adrenal meridians. Breathe. 
  3. My favorite adrenal soother and spine twist; knees up in the air bent at 90 degrees and bring them to the ground on each side of your body, squeezing stale blood out of your adrenals and letting new fresh blood flow. 
Magnesium. 

Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant, sleep enhancer, and digestive aid. Who could want more!? Magnesium is a macro-mineral and most of us are deficient in it because the quantity and quality we need is not found even amongst the cleanest of diets.

When stressed our adrenals use up the magnesium we do have so those with high stress levels especially want to pay attention. My favorite magnesium-rich foods are raw cocoa, raw almonds, spinach, raw cashews or raw pumpkin seeds. To be sure I am getting enough magnesium in my diet I like to put Natural Calm Powdered Magnesium in my tea at night a few times a week as well for extra health insurance.

Timing.

Our bodies run in rhythms and keeping to those natural rhythms will give you the best results with your sleep. Close your eyes by 10pm. The most restorative sleeping hours and 10pm to 2am, the time when your body cleanses major organs.  

To be sure you're able to fall asleep by 10pm, avoid caffeine after 3pm. If you drink caffeine after 3pm (or for me, after noon) it will still be in your system at night and will be difficult to fall asleep. For people who are super sensitive to caffeine, limit your consumption of caffeinated tea and raw cocoa to earlier hours as well.

Light. 

Melatonin is a hormone our bodies produce to regulate sleep cycles. Once it gets dark out our body signals to start producing it. The bright lights in your home, including your TV and phone, disrupts this melatonin signal in your body, telling your body it’s still daytime and not time to sleep. Turn off the bright lights, use a candle or dim light to read and put all of your iElectronics away, preferably out of the room altogether. 

During nighttime bathroom trips, keep a small nightlight in your bathroom, so you don’t have to turn the light on. Your eyes will be well adapted to the dark and you won’t feel the pain of turning on the bright light, while keeping your melatonin at the optimum levels so once you fall back into bed you fall right back asleep.

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About the Author
Brenna Ortner is the creator of Healthy Little Bit, a blog that motivates, educates and inspires women to live healthy, energetic and fulfilling lives. She is a Certified Holistic Health Coach by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, is licensed by the AADP and believes in coaching clients based on bio-individuality, no deprivation, and that every little healthy bit counts.  
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