Sleep is something I never really struggled with- until recently. My desire to write this blog came from my own experience over the past few weeks. When I started having trouble sleeping, it was a signal to reflect on what might be causing it. For me, it was obvious right away- stress.
This may be surprising since I do own a wellness spa, am a health coach, and advocate for stress relief and self-care but the truth is, I am human and can over-work myself in business and life sometimes. This requires even more attention on staying committed to eating healthily, exercising-even when you’re tired, making time to have spa therapies even when you have a lot of work on your plate, and doing yoga or meditating when you can’t imagine slowing down enough to sit in silence for even 10 minutes. It isn’t easy, but the alternative can put you out of commission almost completely.
I’m sure any of you that have had trouble sleeping can relate to the toll lack of sleep takes on you mentally, the next day I felt almost useless. My focus was off, motivation low, and I was irritable. Not to mention how lack of sleep can affect your immune system and overall physical health.
After doing some research, I have found that stress is the most common reason for sleep problems. Stress is the cause of over 50% of insomnia cases. In addition to the inability of the brain to “turn off” when you’re worried or stressing, the main contributor is the fight or flight hormone- cortisol. When we are stressed, our body produces cortisol which creates an alertness (which would be helpful if we were running from a bear, but not when we are stressed, trying to sleep- but our bodies can’t tell the difference). When we are chronically stressed, our sleep is affected even more. According to Katie Takayasu, M.D., integrative medicine physician, “Many of us are sitting in a state of sympathetic overdrive most of the day where there’s so much fight, flight or freeze going on that we don’t allow the body to get into a rest-and-digest response,”.
After going on a mission to reduce stress and incorporate a holistic approach to get back to sleep, I am finally sleeping well again. I will share what has helped me and some extra tips I came across through talking with others about their own sleep remedies.
9 Ways to Stress Less for Better Sleep
1. Infrared Sauna
According to research, infrared radiation can increase blood flow and oxygen metabolism in the muscles and the skin, resulting in improved sleep. Infrared saunas also relax muscles and decrease cortisol levels. I will be honest; it was when I started incorporating the sauna in addition to the other stress relieving activities that I was finally able to get the best sleep.
2. Sleep tea
I picked up some Yogi Bedtime tea, which has Passionflower, Chamomile, Licorice, Cardamom, and Cinnamon- designed to help you relax before bed. I start drinking this around 6 pm so I don’t need to wake up and use the bathroom so many times throughout the night.
3. Night time candle light Meditation or Yoga
This can be tricky for moms if it’s hard to find a quiet space in the evening, but if your kids have an activity at night or maybe your husband can take them on a walk, you could use that time for yoga, all you need is 20 minutes. I’ve been using the time my girls are at dance to light a candle and do some yoga, focusing on deep breathing.
4. Steam bath with lavender essential oil
After yoga, a steam bath with Epsom salts and lavender essential oils will help relieve stress and relax your mind and body even more in the evening time. Add some steamed facial compresses with soft facecloths after cleansing your skin for releiving stress in the face.
A good work out is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress hormones and produce feel good endorphins.
6. Cut out caffeine in the afternoon and evening
If you are able to cut it out completely, even better. It is proven that caffeine stimulates the stress axis and when we are already stressed, it increases the duration of blood pressure and the stress endocrine response- producing more cortisol.
I have not not tried CBD for sleep yet, but I do plan on it. Our holistic esthetician and health coach Robin, has said it helps her and her husband sleep better. This is because it works with the hypothalamus to regulate stress. If you have tried CBD and have had great results, I’d love to hear from you.
8. Have a spa treatment
Take a couple of hours to relieve stress, relax your mind and body, and rejuvenate your mood with a facial or body treatment. Have you noticed yourself falling asleep during a facial? This is very common and happens because the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated. This is helpful when you are having trouble sleeping because it shuts down the flight or fight state and helps your body heal and repair itself. This can help your immune system stay strong during times when you’ve had a lack of sleep and induce a deep relaxation and quiet the mind to help improve sleep.
9. Keep a journal
Before bed, jot down anything you are stressed about and a possible positive solution, silver lining, or positive statement that can take the place of the negative statement. For example, you could be stressed about a big presentation coming up. You could write about how you are prepared and will do your best, and your best is good enough.
As always, please reach out if you have any questions or if you'd like to reserve an appointment, and happy sleeping!