It is vital to survival, and our nervous system depends on it to function optimally. Studies show that when we fail to get enough sleep, our concentration, coordination, memory, and mood suffer. The more well rested we are, the more productive we are, and yet when it comes time to close our eyes and actually fall asleep, often times the hamster wheel in our brains starts running and won’t shut off. Suddenly we remember everything we need to do tomorrow, or start obsessing and overanalyzing every interaction with humans that we had that day. Everyone knows that rest is incredibly important, so why can it be so elusive? What can we change to help us fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed and with our brains fully loaded and ready to take on the day?
First, we need an idea of how many hours of sleep our bodies requires to be at their best. This is different for everyone, and may take a bit of trial and error. Generally, adults need between 7 - 9 hours of sleep. Once you decide how many hours you need to sleep each night, figure out what time you need to go to sleep (not get in bed) and set an alarm to remind you 30 minutes before this. The latest iOS update offers the Bedtime feature in the Clock folder. It allows you to set what time you need to wake up and then automatically tells you what time to go to sleep based on how many hours of sleep you want. It wakes you up with a peaceful alarm that starts very quietly and gradually gets louder which makes for a pleasant wake up call.
Second, we need to create a healthy bedtime routine. This gives our bodies and brains signals that it is time to start winding down, and makes it easier to fall asleep when we actually get in bed. This should start around 30 - 45 minutes before you need to be asleep.
Here’s my bedtime routine:
- oil cleanse (wash) my face and moisturize which includes Frankincense essential oil. I take a few moments to deeply inhale the Frankincense from the palms of my hands after applying it to my face.
- brush my teeth
- do a few light yoga stretches and cleansing breaths (this sounds pompous, but I just do it standing in the bathroom - this is not a full on yoga session!)
- make sure everything is laid out for the morning
- start our diffuser with Lavender and Cedarwood essential oils
- rub Vetiver essential oil under my nose
- spray the bottoms of my feet with Magnesium Oil with Lavender and Cedarwood essential oils added to it (Read more about Magnesium Oil)
- get in bed and Brain Dump - this is where I grab my notebook and write down everything that I need to do the next day or anything that is on my mind that I don’t want to forget. I do not organize this list - just get it out of my brain and onto paper. This helps to keep the hamster wheel from going once I’m ready to sleep.
- ideally I go to sleep now, but sometimes I play on my phone for a few minutes
- Put on my eye mask (light disrupts your sleep whether you are aware of it or not) and go to SLEEP
Essential oils are a great addition to a bedtime routine. Our entire family has seen a drastic improvement of our sleep patterns since we started incorporating them into our bedtime routines.
Five great oils to try:
Vetiver - has sedative & tranquilizing properties making it calming and grounding
Cedarwood - stimulates the pineal gland, which releases melatonin
Bergamot - also contains linalool, which has a sedative effect
Valerian - calming, relaxing, grounding, and balancing
Here’s our essential oil recipe for better sleep, and what’s working for us:
DIFFUSER: 3-4 drops each of Lavender and Cedarwood
TOPICALLY: Vetiver on forehead and under nose, Lavender and Cedarwood on bottoms of feet
DIFFUSER: 3 drops Cedarwood
TOPICALLY: Vetiver on forehead and under nose, Cedarwood on chest
Read more about Lavender essential oil here.