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O sleep, how I love thee!

April 16, 2020

How to get a good night’s sleep

            Good night, sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite. Say what? I’ve heard this expression throughout my childhood (made ZERO sense and almost creepy) but now I understand it was a just an expression of getting a restful sleep being all tucked in and cozy.

            Years ago, when I worked at GNC I’d often have people ask me what I had for “more energy?” My first question back to the customer was “How is your sleep?” More often than not I got the FULL run down of how they only slept 3-4 hours a night, up every hour on top of that and never really felt rested when they woke up. Well my friend there’s your answer…. you NEED PROPER SLEEP!!

            Sleep is one of the most underrated, passive tasks that one can do for optimal health. Proper hormone and immune function, fat storage, appetite signaling, metabolism, stress reduction, mood elevation, energy levels are all related to a deep and restful sleep. Now as passive as sleep is (just lie down and close your eyes) it’s really not that easy for some. Energy drinks, coffee, workout supplements, workouts themselves can keep you stimmed right out. Add certain prescription drugs or pre-existing health issues, young children (ya hear me fellow parents?) and you’ll have a heck of a time with getting a good night’s rest. Once we actually take time to relax, most of us poke our nose in the direction of the soft glowing light of our favorite electronic screen. No wonder our sleep sucks and we are tired, run down, moody, stressed and sick. We become a magnet for disease and health issues.

            We have to get into some type of rhythm, the circadian rhythm, that is. It’s in our human DNA. Through thousands of years of evolution, our system has hard wired a sleep protocol that we can access. Once it starts to get dark out our body starts to wind down for the day. Melatonin is released to calm the body and prepare for slumber. Sounds great to me!! But then we interrupt that beautiful and natural process by firing up the tablet, phone, iPad, TV, and/or video game system, our body gets a shot of cortisol (stress hormone) from the digital stimulation and we will have a tendency to crave carbohydrates…great…and probably not the best food choices either. 

            In order to have a shot at accessing our primal circadian rhythm and achieve a great night’s sleep, review these simple ideas and implement them as soon as you wake up. Yes, a good night sleep starts to moment you wake up!!

1. Smile – Wake up and smile – get the good going ASAP!!

2. Caffeine consumption – Keep it at a modest level. You know how your body reacts.

3. Sunshine – Use the sun as much as possible, safely, to get dialled into your circadian rhythm. 

4. Movement – Be physical and sweat a little – walk, jog, lift things, it promotes stress release and calm. Be cautious of over doing it or working out close to bedtime. It might keep you from relaxing.

5. Food – Healthy diet – make the best choices. Avoid foods later in the day, a few hours before bed, that may affect your sleep.  Spicy food, heavy protein (meat), high fat foods, large meals and alcohol have a tendency to cause sleep issues for most people.

6. Download & chill – Super important!! Hope you can download the stresses of the day by sharing with someone (bitch or complain if you will) or write in a journal. Just get that out of your system ASAP!! Wind down the day with calming activities. Read a book, go for a walk, laugh (at yourself or others) play cards, watch the sun set. Set the stage for a great night’s sleep.

7. Limit artificial light – Use blue light blocking apps or glasses when watching digital stimulation or just avoid altogether.

8. Where you sleep – Make it dark, cool, quiet (white noise if required), use a supportive pillow, a comfortable blanket (I like the heavy down-filled) and of course a cozy bed.

9. Thanks – Give thanks for another day alive on planet Earth, no matter how crazy it has been.

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