We live in a world where we are always connected and stimulated. Whether it’s the nature of our work, busy social lives, expectations or following our dreams, we are continually excited by the world around us. Americans spend nearly half of their waking hours on screens, and people today are more connected to one another than ever before. Social networking and the rise of technology give us the opportunity to stay fully engaged at all times. But people are also more lonely, distant and unhealthy every year. And unfortunately, it has become common to forgo our need for self-care and rest.
The body craves solitude and downtime.
And sleep is essential. It is when we do our best work at keeping ourselves healthy. Sleep is often disregarded as a tool for well-being and its priority on our lists can get lower when something seemingly more important comes along. We know we need it, but are often not getting enough. Sleep allows us to be still and gives our body a chance to rebuild itself physically. It makes us more capable of being happy and healthy, and supports a better emotional connection to the world.
Now that fall is on the horizon it’s a good time to look at our sleep patterns and see how we can support better sleep.
Why Sleep Is So Important:
Healthy Brain Function
- Our brains need a reset– the studies out there show that a good night’s sleep enhances learning, improves our attention during the day and allows us to make better decisions. With deep, restful sleep we are more creative and happier. Sleep deprivation has been shown to alter activity in the brain, where our nerves and body processes are not firing correctly. Our thinking changes, behavior is altered and we are less resilient to the stressors that come at us.
A Healthier Heart
- Deep restful sleep, where we complete REM cycles, gives our heart and vascular system a rest by naturally reducing heart rate and blood pressure. Our body is hardwired to do this on its own, but only when we are in a state of rest.
Sleep and our Emotional Well-Being
- Our nervous system becomes more resilient if we can experience periods of time where we are not in fight or flight mode, making our nervous system stronger and our emotional capacity for handling stressful situations better. Fight or flight state of mind produces adrenaline, which we need to turn off in order to achieve balanced and healthy hormone responses.
- Sleep helps to restore the energy you expend during the day; it helps to build resilience and endurance.
Stronger Immune Systems
- Good sleep helps your body do its natural job of staying healthy.
Thoughts on how to create healthy rest and sleep habits:
It’s nice to think about your day as a cycle
- Sleep provides the building blocks for a productive, healthy day. Our daily habits can support a restful night’s sleep. Eat good food, take adaptogenic herbs, avoid lots of caffeine, move your body, drink plenty of water, take deep breaths. All of these things set you up for healthy habits that in return make it easier for your body to rest.
Create a bedtime routine that is nourishing
- Drink tea, take baths, light candles, snuggle with loved ones or pets. Do gentle yoga or meditation. Avoid screen time if you can before bed. This simple practice of winding down sets the tone for a deeply replenishing sleep ahead of you.
Allow yourself to shut down
- Much of the reason behind sleep problems is anxiety or the inability to fall asleep from not knowing how to shut off the mind. This could be from stress or from thinking about all the things you need to take care of. Get into the habit of making a list at the end of the day, get it down on paper so you don’t have to think about it. It will be there in the morning to keep you on track. Take some deep breaths and be easy on yourself.
Use calming herbs and practices involving them for sleep support
- Scents can be a wonderful way to create a sense of peace. Burn herbs, use essential oils in a bath or distiller, rub your body with aromatic oils like lavender.
Take herbs internally
- Drink tea to help you wind down in the evenings, our favorites are Chamomile with Lavender , Traditional Medicinals Nighty Night, and Cup of Calm.*
- Herbal tinctures can also be a part of your sleep routine. Hit the Hay is herbalist-created to give you that extra help for deep, restful sleep. We built the formula around Passionflower, which soothes away the stress of the day and allows the mind to relax, California Poppy which calms mental chatter, and kava; the incredible root that supports a relaxed nervous system and melts away tension at the end of the day. We then added a small amount of hops which supports a peaceful, restful state allowing us to drift off into a restful sleep.*
Updated August 2019