Sleep is Essential – Getting Quality Sleep Part III

Have you ever wanted to just sleep like a baby again? Well, I cannot guarantee that you will sleep like a little babe but you might certainly identify how to improve your chances of getting better sleep. Did you know that sleep cycles occur normally in five stages lasting about 90 minutes per cycle? What can we do to improve our chances of sleeping better?  (https://www.sleepaidguide.com/sleep-cycles.html).


Time-tested strategies to consider using to have a more restful sleep:

  • Minimize using bright lights in the evening to keep your body clock aligned to your unique wake-sleep cycle. The Sleep Foundation recommends reducing your use of blue light emitting digital devices 2-3 hours before going to bed to promote your body’s natural production of melatonin.  
  • Factoids: Melatonin is secreted when our brain’s light sensitive receptors are activated by the loss of light signaling darkness, our body’s way of announcing readiness to sleep. “Melatonin levels begin to increase approximately two hours before a person goes to sleep” (https://tinyurl.com/y2cm4pql).
  • Use essential oils if not medically contraindicated. Essential oils have been shown to promote a sense of calm & relaxation which could lead to restful sleep. Essential oils can be used in various ways including bathing, air freshening, massage, skin care, steam inhalation, diffusers, etc. Lavender, chamomile, vanilla, jasmine, sandalwood and citrus oils like lemon and bergamot are commonly used as sleep promoting essential oils. CAUTION:Never apply essential oils directly to your skin due to potential for skin irritation or sensitivity. Use some type of diluting agent known as a carrier oil like 100% vegetable, almond, coconut, grapeseed oil, etc.  (https://tinyurl.com/yy3ont4s).
  • Listen to soothing, relaxing music that does not encourage you to dance to the rhythm or perspire while moving to the beat. The goal is to “wind down”, not over-stimulate the body.
  • Use a sleep sound machine or phone app to produce soothing sounds like ocean waves, gentle rain, fan whirling, wind blowing through trees, rushing waterfall, summer nights with crickets, white noise, etc.
  • Try to reduce you stress and anxiety so you are not restless or unable to sleep. For some folks, tossing and turning, having racing thoughts or crazy dreams are other ways that anxiety and stress creeps into our sleep life. Learn how to deep breath, do mindfulness exercises, etc.
  • Be aware that some medications may interfere with your wakefulness-sleep cycle like certain cold, allergy and sinus medications containing antihistamines, drugs with caffeine or alcohol, corticosteroids, water pills like diuretics, nicotine replacement products and some types of anti-arrhythmic and anti-hypertensive drugs.
  • Limit drinking fluids close to bedtime to decrease how often you get up during your sleep time to use the bathroom. These interruptions interfere with the restorative aspect of sleep.
  • Take control of your food and beverage choices near bedtime:
    • Enjoy foods that promote quality sleep. Munch on complex carbohydrates like whole grain crackers, oatmeal and if allowed, consider eating walnuts or almonds.    
    • Skip refined sugary products like pre-made baked pastries, cookies and donuts since they tend to reduce our body’s serotonin level and unnecessary increase one’s blood glucose level which robs your ability to sleep restfully.
    • Consider eating dark chocolates and caffeinated foods & beverages earlier in the day to minimize caffeine’s impact on your “sleep cycle”.
    • Refrain from eating large meals or spicy/hot foods which can contribute to stomach bloat, gas or indigestion disrupting restfulness and increasing gut digestive processes.
    • Keep alcohol and nicotine containing products out of reach before bedtime, they interfere with our body’s production and use of serotonin.

Lastly, if you find you are unable to have restful sleep due to changes in your stress level, worsening of pre-existing medical conditions or you need mental health support, please contact your primary care provider as soon as possible for help. DO not suffer alone or in silence, help is available!

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, allow us to find comfort and refuge in your protecting arms of mercy. Do not allow the night to rob us of soulfully sound sleep. Let your peace flood our minds, remove our doubts and crush our worries; for you are our sheltering place during these storms of change and uncertainty. Let us rest in deep faith that you will deliver us from our despair and wake us up to new mercies in the beautiful name of Jesus Christ. Amen

Scripture. Matthew 11: 28 (ESV) – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.