So as a little reminder, the low-down on sleep is that getting a consistent amount of good sleep makes you LOOK good, FEEL good, and keeps you SLIMMER and your ideal weight. Yay sleep!! :)
Our bodies are governed by a biological clock, and we rely on it for the regulation of our metabolic processes, such as our hormone levels, blood sugar levels, body temperatures, metabolism, immunity, etc. Faulty sleep patterns could impede surges of growth hormone, that promotes lean muscle tissue and the burning of body fat. Inadequate sleep also forces cortisol levels to rise, which can quicken fat storage, especially around the belly area! So not getting enough rest, unfortunately, can definitely make you fat and look more FLABBY. Eeeek. (Now THERE IS some motivation to cut back on your late night web surfing hmmmmmm??????).
Everything suffers if we don’t get adequate sleep! You’ll feel crabby and sloth-like during the day, and won’t have as much energy to achieve your goals. To help combat the energy slumps you will also be more apt to reach for snacks and more food— even though it is more sleep that you need, NOT more food!
How much sleep do we really need? Well I’m sure you’ve always heard that scientists insist that we need 8 hours of sleep a night. I think that it is more individual than that, depending on our lifestyle and diet. If you are eating mostly raw food you should require less sleep, since you have so much more energy freed up from the processes of digestion. I need about 6 hours of sleep a night to feel amazing and fully energized! Be intuitive with your own sleep patterns and understand your own body to know how much sleep your really need. Then be responsible for your health and get to bed at the time you need to get those necessary beauty sleep hours!
All of us have trouble falling asleep sometimes- or for some of us it is a chronic problem. We live in such a fast-paced world, with so many sensory elements pulling us this way and that, it is no wonder that it difficult for us to shut everything off at the end of the day and immediately pass out! So we must be conscious of the root causes of our sleep problems and work to correct them- rather than put a bandaid (and an unnatural and liver-harming one at that!) on the issue and resort immediately to the multiple varieties of sleep pills available to us today!!! Sleeping pills should be a very last resort.
Here are some easy, natural sleep tips:
- Eat dinner 2-4 hours before bedtime. Do your best, and eat as early as is feasible for you. Be sure your dinners are of the best food combining possible (more on that later). As a general rule, avoiding eating complex starches with heavy proteins, instead focus on foods that help burn fat. We want our digestion to be as easy as possible and not impede our sleep or rest at all!
- Avoid drinking any caffeine (a stimulant)- even green tea- in the evenings. Remember raw cacao has some caffeine, so if you are having your raw cacao truffles or raw vegan hot chocolate for desert, just be sensible in limiting the amounts and again, have dinner as early as possible.
- Avoid eating “Rajastic” (stimulating activity) foods at dinner. This would include excessive spicy chilies, lots of garlic and onion, and a large amount of animal flesh foods.
- A cup of warm almond milk (see Megan’s Almond Milk recipe to make it truly raw or buy the unsweetened kind at the store) before bedtime is very soothing and contains magnesium and calcium, which can be helpful for falling asleep.
- Try to avoid taking naps after 4:00 PM.
- Take a hot shower before bed. There is a signal to your body that it is bedtime, created by the rise in body temperature followed by the decline in the core temperature. I take one every night! And I find it immensely helpful. I like to imagine the stream of water also as white light flushing away the stress and other peoples’ energy from the day, off my body and down the drain. It soothes my muscles, which are always sore from yoga :) and makes me feel fresh and restored.
- Try to get to establish a (somewhat) consistent pattern of going to bed and waking up around the same time. I know, I know, the weekends are when things go a bit awry in this area, and you deserve to kick back and hang out with your friends or stay up late watching movies etc on your weekends (!) but like I said, just do your best!
- Make sure your bedroom is cool- a warmer temperature creates a harder sleep environment. I sleep with my air filter on “turbo mode” which makes a pleasant white sound and produces cool air!
- Make sure you don’t have any electrical appliances plugged in in in your bedroom. That includes plugged-in alarm clocks, etc. These appliances have subtle radiation currents which can interfere with our body’s natural sleep clocks and REM sleep! So buy a $10 battery-operated alarm clock instead! :)
- Drink a cup of Kava Tea, which is a tea derived from a root from the South Pacific, and has been shown to reduce anxiety. When I was in Fiji, at night and whenever I met some locals, they would always invite me to a cup of Kava. They would put the root in a cloth and use their hands to rub the essence into a bucket of water for over 10 mins., then ladle it out into cups. Of course I tried not to focus on the level of everyone’s hand cleanliness :) , but it sure did make me feel relaxed! You can get Kava Tea at the health food store with several popular brands.
- Don’t watch TV in your bedroom or right before you fall asleep. The TV is a lightbox of sounds and images meant to stimulate your senses. How can we be expected to instantly rest peacefully when we have just watched the imagery of all the drama shows they have one, or even worse…the nightly NEWS??? Which is often about doom and gloom and fear-based things and not really peaceful sleep material we want on our mind as we are drifting off!
- Lastly and most importantly: Be sure to arrange your schedule for a nightly meditation practice. Even more importantly in our busy, busy lives, we need a barrier between the craziness of our days and our sojourn into peaceful sleep. We need some time to reconnect back. Allow yourself at least a few minutes (1/2 hour would be blissful!) to go into meditation. It will make all the difference! If you have no definite technique, do some deep yogic breathing techniques and focus on being still. It will really help you calm down.
Happy rest dear ones,