Sleep Is Essential!
We all know how it feels to suffer through a sleepless night and then try to function normally the next day. As it turns out, sleep isn’t only important for making us feel normal, it’s also an important part of what allows our bodies to function healthily.
While sleep sometimes feels like a time-out in our busy lives, it’s actually a period of high productivity. During REM sleep (an acronym for Rapid Eye Movement), the deepest phase of the sleep cycle, our brain waves operate at the same rate that they would in waking life. During this phase, our bodies become somewhat paralyzed, our heart rates escalate, and our eyes move rapidly. This is also the phase where dreaming takes place. Studies have shown that a lack of REM sleep can decrease memory, slow normal bodily functions, and inhibit our ability to process information.
So yes, there is no question that sleep is important, but sometimes falling asleep isn’t as easy as it should be. There’s nothing quite as frustrating as lying in bed for hours, knowing that you have to wake up early the next morning. While it may sometimes feel like a vicious cycle, there are some natural ways to get back into balance and get a better night’s sleep.
The first is all about light. Today, between working on the computer or socializing through your smart phone, we spend a lot of time behind screens. As the sun goes down, though, the light from these screens can confuse the body’s natural cycle. Rather than allowing it to unwind, your computer is sending your body messages that it’s still daytime. These messages actually decrease your body’s melatonin production, a natural chemical that helps you sleep. I’ve found that participating in activities that don’t involve bright screens before bed, such as reading (real books, not the lit up tablets!), helps me fall asleep more easily. Sleep is also made easier through exercising during the day (not too close to bedtime), and avoiding caffeine after about two in the afternoon.
When it comes to aromatherapy, there are several essential oils that can help relax you and help you to fall asleep. You can diffuse them, put a few drops in your bath, add them to a massage oil or simply put a few drops under your pillow. A room spray can also be nice and easy to use. Here’s one simple recipe for a room spray:
1 cup water (8oz)
15 drops Lavender essential oil
15 drops Chamomile essential oil
5 drops Marjoram essential oil
Spray on your bed linens and under your pillow before going to bed.
Some other good essential oils for insomnia are: Clary Sage, Frankincense, Ylang Ylang and Bergamot. If you’d rather not blend the oils yourselves, we’ve created our own Sleep Well Blend.
And lastly, try making a Dream Pillow:
Stuff a pillow with dried herbs including hops, lavender, and valerian – add one drop of essential oil of lavender and one drop of essential oil of clary sage to the herbal mix before putting it in the pillow.
or a Tub Tea Bath:
Mix 2 tablespoons of dried lavender flowers and one tablespoon of dried chamomile flowers. Add 2 drops of essential oil of lavender and 2 drops of essential oil of clary sage to the mixture and fold into a square of cheese cloth that you tie at the top. Drop it into the bath as you draw the water.