Good Sleep Can Change Your Life. Here's How To Get It
If you’re looking for an increase in happiness, it may be as simple as adjusting your sleep habits. Technically speaking, REM sleep is the most restorative time for your body. This sleep cycle happens 70-90 minutes after you’ve drifted off into your slumber, and during this time, blood flow is drawn away from your brain and into your organs, tissues, and muscles to heal and repair your cells.
Consider your most peaceful rest – how do you feel when you wake up? If you’re taking good care of your body and ensuring that you eat right and sleep enough, you should feel fully replenished, peaceful, and calm.
What many people don’t know is that REM sleep is incredibly beneficial for strengthening your mind.
The dream state, which happens during the REM sleep cycle, improves your brain function and increases your brain power. This means that better sleep (and better dreaming) can help you work smarter and more efficiently, allowing for more time to do what truly makes you happy.
Research conducted by Ulrich Wagner shows that dreaming helps you create more connections between the synapses in your brain. Once these connections are established, they help you incorporate “new information into existing experiences,” which creates a deeper knowledge bank for your brain and results in better problem solving skills.
As a result, you’ll have less anxiety and less stress because you have the mental tools to cope with any challenges that come your way.
With better processing tools, you actually increase your potential for happiness – opening up the doorway for you to bring more of who and what you are into the world in more innovative ways.
Many of us actually sabotage our ability to fall into deep sleep cycles, which causes mental haziness, fatigue, and bodily stress. To help you avoid falling into a downward spiral, here are five tips to ensure that you’re getting the shut-eye you need:
1. Ditch your phone 40 minutes before bed.
The blue light streaming through your electronic devices stimulates your brain and throws off your circadian rhythm.
Why? Blue light sends a signal to your brain asking it to wake up your entire body. The bright light is actually so powerful that it stops your brain from releasing melatonin into your blood stream, cutting off your ability to fall into a deep sleep.
Instead of turning to electronics to wind down before bed, reach for a book or a magazine. This will help you relax without disrupting your circadian rhythm.
2. Work with essential oils (lavender & chamomile).
According to aromatherapy principles, lavender and chamomile have relaxing and soothing effects on the body. Two great ways to work with these oils are to spritz the aromas around the room (mix essential oil into water, and spritz liberally), and/or apply the aromas directly to your pulse points to strengthen the soothing effects on your body and mind (look for essential oils distilled in jojoba oil when applying directly to skin).
Engaging with aromatherapies is a great, natural way to unwind from your day and create space for the relaxation and rejuvenation that sleep brings to your body.
3. Wear a sleep mask.
Your brain needs an ample amount of the chemical melatonin in order to fall asleep. Melatonin is more readily released into your bloodstream when your body is in a dark setting, so help yourself cancel out any excess light you’re exposed to by placing sleep mask over your eyes.
Not only will you have clearer dreams, but also you’ll have a much deeper REM sleep cycle.
4. Cancel out noise disruptions.
You can’t always control what other people are doing in your living space, but you can control your exposure and your reactions to it. No one likes to be woken up mid-dream, so let’s call for less noise disruption, and deeper sleep.
Take action to eliminate the chances of being woken up by outside noises by opting for some ear plugs, switching on an air purifier, or using a fan. I recommend anything that creates a consistent noise shield.
Air purifiers are most likely your best bet here – they filter out pollution, allergens, dust, and anything else from the air in your space that could cause your body harm. You can also look for energy efficient appliances that won’t drain a significant amount of energy.
5. Eat foods that promote REM sleep.
Eating foods that are rich in melatonin and tryptophan will help you reach a deeper dream state in your sleep.
Why? Research shows that increasing your intake of melatonin helps restore your circadian rhythm, which ultimately helps normalize and deepen your REM sleep (where most of your dreaming takes place).
The second food option, tryptophan, is also great for promoting REM sleep because tryptophan is ultimately converted into melatonin once it hits your brain.
What to eat for deeper sleep:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Poppy seeds
- Flax seeds
Now that you have the tools to create the best environment for deeper sleep, make sure you put them into action.
We would love to hear from you! Is there a food that you love to eat that helps promote dreaming? Do you like any of the above tactics? Tell us your stories below!
Till then, dream on, dreamer.
Ready to learn more about what anxiety, brain health, and your diet all have in common? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Dr. Mark Hyman.