Healthy Habits for Sweet Dreams

Healthy Habits for Sweet Dreams

Healthy Habits for Sweet Dreams

When asked how much sleep you get per night, are you someone who sheepishly shrugs or untruthfully mumbles an acceptable number, OR do you proudly say, "8-9 hours like clockwork every night"? There’s a good chance you fall into one of those two camps. As you may know, sleep is non-negotiable and absolutely vital to our health. We spend about 1/3 of our lives asleep. During that time, our bodies perform key activities like cleansing, repairing, restoring energy, and troubleshooting the physical and mental processes of the day. We also store memories and process emotions through sleep. But despite knowing the importance of quality sleep, many people still struggle to get enough of it.

While our ancestors would work in the daytime when the sun was up and turn in at night when the sun set (following human circadian rhythms), our modern lifestyles have moved us away from our natural internal body clock, which has resulted in a host of undesirable consequences. Studies show that an abnormal sleep duration (less than 4 hrs or more than 10 hrs) has been associated with lower brain function in the short term and cognitive decline in the long term (if chronic). Poor sleep hygiene can also lead to a strained immune system, which is why we're most susceptible to getting sick when we've had poor sleep in conjunction with high stress for a few consecutive days. Other negative effects of subpar sleep may include sluggishness, poor attention span, mood fluctuations, low stress tolerance, decreased metabolism and calorie burn, insatiable hunger, and compromised 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.

Like all things related to health and wellness, simply understanding why you may want to optimize your sleep is not enough. Instead, understanding what to do and how to implement changes is the key to building healthy, lifelong habits.

Below, we've identified 3 sleep habits that you can begin to incorporate into your nights to make lasting changes and help you get the sleep of your dreams.

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 bedtime, blue light from screens, unmanaged stress and anxiety, disruptive noises and lights, and uncomfortable 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 its contents. That way, way it can focus on repairing and restoring other areas instead of allocating energy towards digestion. This will also help with any reflux trouble.

As so many of us have experienced, unaddressed stress can keep you up when trying to fall asleep or wake you up in the middle of the night. Self-care activities such as meditation, yoga, exercise, and speaking to a trained mental health professional can help decrease that unwanted stress and anxiety.

While most of us know that the ideal way to wind down at night is away from screens, sometimes we need to use them for work or school (or because of the latest series you can't stop watching). Unfortunately, the blue light they emit is stimulating and can disrupt our sleep hormone, melatonin, and, therefore, our ability to fall asleep. If screen time some nights is unavoidable, wearing blue light-blocking glasses and setting your device to "night" mode can make a significant difference.

Lastly, your bedroom temperature is more important than you think in achieving restful sleep. A bedroom that's too warm (or a bed with too many cozy blankets) can interfere with our bodies' ability to regulate temperature, which can keep us up, cause restlessness, and lead to poor quality sleep. Aim for a room temperature of around 65 degrees F and optimize your bedding so you can feel comfortable and content throughout the night

Habit 2- Set sleep boundaries

Commit to setting strong but loving boundaries with people in your home that you need to sleep. Many times, it’s not you who is disrupting your flow, but it may be other people or pets around. Remember that 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. Having a consistent bedtime and waking schedule will help you solidify these habits as your body's internal clock will begin to recognize when to get sleepy and fall asleep and when to 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. This routine can be different for each person but regularly includes relaxing activities that don't require much stimulation. 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 time or a long day at work, you may need some extra help relaxing and falling asleep. Totally understandable. In this case, reaching for our Dream chocolate before bedtime is a great option! It contains melatonin, a substance naturally found in our bodies that regulates the body's sleep-wake cycle and supports healthy immune and stress responses*. Dream also contains 5-HTP, which the body uses to make other neurotransmitters and brain chemicals such as melatonin and dopamine.* It also supports the body’s serotonin, our “feel good” hormone that has a big influence on mood, sleep, appetite, and pain response*. Both of these compounds are wonderful supports for sleep*. Not to mention, it’s in a delicious package to help send you off to the sweetest dreams.

Final Thoughts

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 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


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