Guest Post By: Nicole Noel
In 2010, the Sleep Health Foundation conducted a national survey and came up with crucial evidence that 1.5 million Australians aged 20 and over suffer from sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnoea, restless legs syndrome and primary insomnia.
1. Essential oils for better sleep
Not all essential oils are created equal, so be careful when choosing the type of oil as a part of aromatherapy to improve your sleep. Lavender, chamomile, vetiver, bergamot, marjoram, ylang ylang, sandalwood, valerian and cedarwood have calming and relaxing properties. Avoid stimulating essential oils, such as lemon, peppermint, rosemary, or grapefruit. Add a drop of your favourite sleep-inducing oil to a cotton ball you will place by the pillow, or add a few drops to your bathwater. You can also make a bed linen spray.
2. Restoring a sleep rhythm with massage
Since massage has a positive effect on the autonomic nervous system, it is a great stress-reliever. Massage improves your mood and relaxes tense muscles. According to a study published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing entitled The Effects of Slow-stroke Back Massage on Minutes of Night Time Sleep in Persons with Dementia and Sleep Disturbances in the Nursing Home, a three-minute slow-stroke massage can lengthen your sleep by 36 minutes.
3. Sleeping positions and the quality of sleep
Whether you sleep on the side, the back, or on your stomach, the head, the hip, the spine and the feet should be aligned. You will need an additional pillow to support the natural curve of the body and stay aligned. If you are sleeping on the side, place a pillow between the knees. Those who love sleeping on the back should place the pillow under the lower stomach, while sleeping on the back requires the pillow under your lower back. The pillow for back and stomach sleepers should be lower than the pillow for side sleepers.
4. Consider a spiritual retreat
Stress is one of the main causes of poor sleep and insomnia. Stress-filled jobs and the fast-paced world we are living in can make us anxious and nervous, which result in the quality of sleep. Spending time in a spiritual retreat can bring us a host of benefits. Reconnecting to nature and changing your daily routine recharge your batteries. On top of that, many spiritual retreats offer useful workshops, including art classes, essential oils workshops, healthy cooking classes as well as health and lifestyle lectures.
5. When and what to eat before going to bed?
Generally speaking, dieticians recommend eating the last large meal two, or three hours before going to bed. If you are a night bird sleeping late at night, you can grab a healthy snack before bedtime. Dairy products, tuna, peanuts, eggs, banana, poultry and oats are all tryptophan-rich foods. Tryptophan is an amino acid, stimulating the production of serotonin and melatonin, sleep-inducing hormones. Apart from calcium and tryptophan, magnesium is another mineral, which can promote sleep. Choose spinach, nuts, whole grains, seeds and fish for your last large meal before bed.
6. Practice yoga, sleep tight
The National Health Interview Survey from 2012 on the use of complementary health approaches in the U.S revealed that over 85% of yoga users said that yoga is effective against stress while over 55% of them reported they experienced improved sleep when practicing yoga. Yoga is the combination of deep breathing techniques, asanas and meditation. All three of them reduce the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, relieve tension and make you focus on the present. In order to sleep better, all you need is discover your own yoga practice.
7. The effect of physical activity on sleep
A study published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity adds a new piece of evidence to the research connecting exercising and sleep disorders. The sample consisting of 2,600 men and women, aged 18-85 discovered that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week can result in better quality sleep by 65%. The lead author of the study, Paul Loprinzi, said that this research is the first one investigating the relationship by using a nationally representative sample of adults (the US) of all ages.
Sleep disorders can lead to work-related injuries and motor-vehicle accidents, depression, cardiovascular and kidney diseases and diabetes. Although many think that pharmaceutical options are the only ones which can help improve sleep health, it all boils down to lifestyle. Healthy lifestyle is not only a cure, but good prevention, also.
Nicole is an avid traveler passionate about yoga and healthy living. She loves to explore different cultures and share her experiences with others. In her free time she likes to prepare healthy and delicious food for her friends. You can find her on Twitter and FB
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