Healthy Habits for Sweet Dreams
Healthy Habits for Sweet Dreams
When asked how many hours of sleep, or how much sleep you get per day, are you one of those people who sheepishly shrug and mumble an acceptable number or do you proudly say, “8-9 hours, like a baby, clockwork every night”? There’s a high chance you’d fall in between or in one of those two categories, and for good reason. As many know, sleep is an extremely important part of human health. Human beings will spend more than ⅓ of their life asleep by the time it’s all over. It’s an integral process involved with cleansing, repairing, and troubleshooting physical and mental processes of the day. Despite us knowing the importance of sleep, many people still have trouble getting enough sleep.
Whereas our ancestors would work in the daytime when the sun is up and turn in at night, following human circadian rhythms, the Age of Information in modern times has not been so gracious to this necessity. Studies have shown that sleep duration (less than 4 hours, or more than 10 hours) was associated with not only lower brain function, but also with faster cognitive decline during follow up assessments. Poor sleep quality and hygiene can lead to a strained immune system which is why we are most susceptible to being sick when we have had good sleep for a few consecutive nights in conjunction with high stress. Other negative side effects of sleep delays or interruptions include sluggishness, low attention span, extreme or decreased mood, decreased caloric burn during the day, increased hunger and decreased feelings of satiation, insulin resistance (increasing risk of diabetes), and decreased physical performance, to name a few.
The Sleep Solution: Healthy Habits
Although we can’t turn back time and live like our ancestors did in terms of sleep hygiene, we can most definitely make a few changes to our daily lives to optimize sleep.
Sometimes what we need for our health is not knowing what to do, but actually doing it and the best way to implement a recommendation into your life is by building healthy habits.
Habit 1- Identify and eliminate or reduce your sleep disruptors
Sleep disruptors include, but are not limited to: large, heavy meals and drinks close to bed-time, blue light from screens, unmanaged stress, anxiety, or worry, disruptive noises and lights, uncomfortable (too hot or too cold) bedroom temperatures.
Try to give yourself at least 2-3 hours after eating your last meal before going to bed to allow your body to digest most of the contents, that way it can focus on repairing and restoring other areas instead of allocating energy towards digestion. This will also help with any reflux trouble. If screen time close to bed time is necessary for work or school, try to get blue-light blocking glasses and make sure the “night” mode is set to “on” at regular times on your computer and phone to reduce exposure to blue light, which stimulates the brain to stay awake. Additionally, self care activities such as meditation, yoga, exercise, and speaking to a trained professional can help decrease that unaddressed stress and anxiety.
Habit 2- Set Sleep Boundaries
Many times it’s not you who is disrupting your flow, but it may be other people or pets around. Commit to setting strong but loving boundaries with people in your home that you need to sleep. Remember that in order to be your best self around others, you need to take regular self-care measures and sleep boundaries are definitely one of them. If time is something you tend to lose track of, set some alarms on your phone for your “bed-time routine” about an hour before bed. This will give you plenty of time to wash up, say goodnight, and do your “wind down” routine. Waking and sleeping at consistent hours will also help solidify these habits as your body runs on an internal clock and will recognize the times you regularly go to bed and wake up.
Habit 3- Have a Wind Down routine
A wind down routine can help you smoothly transition from your active work mode into sleep mode. A wind down routine is always different for each person, but regularly includes relaxing activities that don’t take too much stimulation to perform. These include things like meditation, gentle stretching, journaling, and reading. For a consistent bedtime routine, choose 1 or 2 of these things to implement for at least 10 minutes each to really get your heart rate down and relax your mind.
During a stressful period of time or a long day at work, it may be difficult to wind down. If this is the case, using supplements that can help you support your quality of sleep would be very helpful. The Dream chocolate would be a great choice! It has melatonin, which is a natural substance found in our bodies that regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle and also supports healthy immune and stress responses*. Dream also contains 5-HTP, which is used by the body to make other neurotransmitters and brain chemicals such as melatonin, beta-endorphin, and dopamine. It also supports serotonin, our “feel good” hormone that has a big influence on mood, sleep, appetite, and pain response*. Both of these compounds, along with cacao, are wonderful supports for sleep. Not to mention, it’s in a delicious package to help send you off to the sweetest dreams.
One of the most important self-care habits we can include in our day to day is actually at night- winding down for bed regularly and having quality sleep. If you feel you might need extra help, there are many people who would love to support you to improve your quality of sleep: sleep specialists, therapists, meditation teachers, and more! If you’re just starting, just remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day! Choose one or two of the sleep-supporting habits above and try them out this week. Be gentle with yourself, stay curious about the different activities you can add, and have fun with it!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease
- ADHERENCE TO LONG-TERM THERAPIES: EVIDENCE FOR ACTION. (2015, December 21). Retrieved December 28, 2020, from https://www.who.int/chp/knowledge/publications/adherence_report/en/
- Arlinghaus, K. R., & Johnston, C. A. (2018). The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 13(2), 142-144. doi:10.1177/1559827618818044
- Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., & Haack, M. (2019). The Sleep-Immune Crosstalk in Health and Disease. Physiological Reviews, 99(3), 1325-1380. doi:10.1152/physrev.00010.2018
- Lally, P., Jaarsveld, C. H., Potts, H. W., & Wardle, J. (2009). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40(6), 998-1009. doi:10.1002/ejsp.674
- Ma, Y., Liang, L., Zheng, F., Shi, L., Zhong, B., & Xie, W. (2020). Association Between Sleep Duration and Cognitive Decline. JAMA Network Open, 3(9). doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.13573
- Northwestern Medicine. (n.d.). How Much Sleep Do You Need? [Infographic]. Retrieved April11, 2021, from https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/healthy-sleep-habits