This simple question may not be something you think about, but perhaps you should. According to findings from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1), more than one-third of Americans are sleep-deprived, meaning millions of groggy people are struggling to pull themselves out of bed every day. There’s a good reason why the energy drink industry is an explosive multi-billion dollar business! Being sleepy during the day can cause potentially hazardous outcomes, especially when driving drowsy, and those caffeinated drinks are immediate stimulates. But it’s important to remember they are only brief quick-fixes for the very serious problem of sleep deprivation.
Regularly skimping on sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, and other metabolic diseases. When feelings of excessive sleepiness begin, it is often accompanied with irritability and overactive emotions. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to cognitive problems, such as difficulty focusing, slowed speech, impaired memory, and an inability to concentrate.
Most of us learn about the importance of quality sleep when we are young; however, as adults, those recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep become so elusive. With all the daily to-dos, demands from work, home, or school, sleep tends to get pushed aside. For whatever reason, something so critical to our health and well-being falls off our list of priorities, and our bodies respond immediately. A good night’s sleep isn’t just good for your energy level the next day — when asleep, our bodies are hard at work repairing, replenishing, and replacing cells, while also releasing growth hormones to rebuild muscles and joints.
Unfortunately, regularly getting a full night of restful sleep is a lot easier said than done. And if your sleep routine has been inconsistent, it may take a while to re-train your body (see aromatherapist Ellen Brenner’s Slipping Into Slumber article to learn how).
Prescription and over-the-counter sleep medications usually have a pretty long list of side-effects. Some are even known to be addictive, and over time may impair cognitive abilities.
Thankfully, there are several all-natural ways to improve your sleep, so if you are really serious about getting more quality snooze time, try these suggestions:
- Using essential oils for a good night’s rest is an all-natural alternative worth trying. Plant Therapy offers a variety of synergy blends and single oils to fit your sleep needs. Using Relax Synergy is a great way to promote a peaceful, tranquil state of mind and wind down after a stressful day. Sleep Aid Synergy was specially designed by our Certified Aromatherapists to help calm your mind and body into relaxation before going to sleep. If you have children in your home, consider trying KidSafe Nighty Night Synergy, which promotes a calming and peaceful atmosphere to help safely lull your little ones — and you! — into a deep and restful sleep. Single oils, such as Lavender, Mandarin, Vetiver, and Rose Absolute are known for their relaxing and balancing properties, making them perfect additions to your bedtime routine. It’s important to remember that everyone is made up a little differently; what helps you fall asleep and stay asleep may be different than someone else, so don’t be afraid to try different essential oils to learn what works best for you.
- Add some daily exercise into your schedule! Don’t fret over what time is “best” to get your workout in — just do it! People who work out regularly sleep better and longer than those who don’t. Set aside a little chunk of your day to get your heart rate up, join a HIIT program, or sign up for yoga.
- Limit your screen time before bed. TVs, computers, phones, tablets… these are all brain stimulates that can make it a challenge to fall asleep if you use them too close to bedtime. The light emitted from electronics is known to promote wakefulness and inhibit the release of your body’s sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Many electronic devices have an option to reduce their output of blue light by using warmer colors to the light up the screen, which causes less restlessness before bedtime if you absolutely have to have an electronic device on.
- Assess your sleep space. Is your bedroom always a mess? Is it too cold or too warm? Does your mattress cause you to wake up with a sore back? The environment you sleep in seriously impacts your ability to sleep well. Take a good look around your room and see where improvements can be made. While buying a new mattress may not be in your budget right now, quick changes like decluttering or adjusting the thermostat can create a more ideal sleep space.
- Eat and drink lightly before bed. Eating too much food before sleeping can overload your digestive system, affecting how well you are able to sleep. Try to finish eating at least one hour before you head off to bed. If you want to lower the odds of getting up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break, try to stop drinking about two hours before bed; waking in the middle of the night when nature calls can make it hard to fall back asleep quickly.
Don’t let sleeplessness control your life! Regularly getting a full night of restful slumber is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. Making small adjustments to your evening routine can make huge positive changes for your health, and we hope you consider adding some aromatherapy into your nighttime environment to really settle down and get the rest you deserve!
We want to hear from you! What are your tips and tricks for getting a good night’s rest? Share in the comments below. Maybe something you share will help someone else — after all, we at Plant Therapy are here to support one another on our well-being journeys!
References: (1) https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/