How to get better sleep
How to enhance sleep quality & support hormone health.
Better sleep for better hormonal balance
Calling all sleep enthusiasts (ahem, all of us?)
Tired of stressing over poor sleep, restless nights, and waking up feeling groggy? It’s time to get cozy. Say hello to a wind-down routine that actually works—habits to transport you to dreamland and give you the well-deserved beauty sleep you've been longing for.
Why is a wind-down routine important for better sleep?
It signals to your body that it’s time to prepare for rest. In other words, it’s the precursor to the next part of your day: sleep. Imagine a gentle breeze guiding you towards tranquility, melting away your stressors, preparing your mind for a rejuvenating sleep. That's precisely what a personalized wind-down routine can do. And research proves it.
By engaging in calming activities, the art of an intentional wind-down routine helps regulate your internal clock, reduces cortisol, and enhances the quality (and duration) of sleep. A well-crafted nighttime routine allows for a smoother transition from the busyness of the day to a state of tranquility, setting the stage for a restful and rejuvenating night's sleep.
Why is quality sleep important for hormone health?
Quality sleep can’t be understated—especially for women. After all, it plays a vital role in hormone balance! During deep sleep, the body undergoes essential restorative processes that help maintain hormonal equilibrium. Here's why quality sleep is crucial:
- Cell regeneration: Adequate sleep (especially during deep sleep stages), stimulates the release of growth hormone, which is crucial for tissue repair, muscle growth, and overall cellular regeneration.
- Cortisol regulation: This goes without saying, but sleep deprivation disrupts the body's cortisol levels. Cortisol is our stress hormone that, when elevated due to lack of sleep, can impact metabolism, immune function, and the body's response to stress.
- Leptin and ghrelin response: Did you know that sleep deprivation can disrupt the balance of hunger-regulating hormones? Lack of sleep can increase ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels, leading to increased appetite and cravings, while reducing leptin (satiety hormone) levels, affecting feelings of fullness and satiety.
- Insulin sensitivity: Sufficient sleep is crucial for maintaining healthy insulin sensitivity. In other words, it supports healthy blood sugar balance. And this is important for reducing sugar cravings, stable energy, and overall hormonal health.
- Menstrual cycle balance: Sleep plays a role in regulating our reproductive hormones. Wonky sleep patterns or inadequate sleep can affect fertility, menstrual cycles, and more.
- Melatonin production: Last but not least, quality sleep supports the production of melatonin, our hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles.
How to curate a unique wind-down routine
Let’s get personal. How can you discover your ideal nighttime routine? First and foremost, act with relaxation in mind. Whether it's reading a book, taking a warm bath, practicing gentle yoga, or listening to calming music, identify what helps you unwind and make it an integral part of your routine. From there:
- Create a tech-free zone. Bid farewell to the glowing screens that disrupt your sleep patterns. Establish a tech-free zone before bedtime, allowing your mind to detach from the digital world. Whether it’s 6, 7, or 8pm, create a cut off time for yourself. If it’s helpful, create a lock time schedule for your apps!
- Sip on an elixir. Certain herbal teas, such as chamomile or lavender, possess calming properties that can aid in relaxation. Consider incorporating a warm, soothing cup of tea into your wind-down routine to create a comforting bedtime ritual.
- Embrace the power of aromatherapy. Fragrances have an incredible ability to influence our mood and promote relaxation. Experiment with essential oils like lavender, jasmine, or ylang-ylang.
- Calm your mind with meditation. Explore the power of mindfulness and meditation to quiet the noise within. By dedicating a few minutes to deep breathing exercises or guided meditation, you can cultivate a sense of peace that paves the way for uninterrupted sleep. Try this Deep Sleep Release meditation.
- Set the stage for sleep. Create an environment that encourages tranquility. Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, and invest in comfortable bedding and a supportive mattress to enhance your sleep quality.
Ultimately, establish consistent sleep patterns. In other words, train your body to recognize when it's time to sleep by establishing a regular sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, to regulate your body's internal clock.
For better sleep, avoid these things before bed
To create your own slice of bedtime heaven, it’s helpful to know what to avoid before sleep. After all, these things can disrupt the quality and quantity of your well-deserved rest.
First and foremost, limit or avoid consuming caffeine-containing beverages in the evening. In fact, most of us should stop drinking caffeine at least 4-6 hours before bed. Additionally, while alcohol may initially make you feel drowsy, it can disrupt the sleep cycle and lead to fragmented and restless sleep.
Furthermore, eating heavy, rich, or spicy meals close to bedtime can cause indigestion and discomfort. Instead, enjoy lighter snacks before bed: turkey roll-ups with a handful of pumpkin seeds, raspberries and walnuts, chocolate bark, or a sleepytime adaptogenic latte.
When it comes to your phone and computer, keep in mind that blue light (emitted by electronic devices) can suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate sleep. Avoid using electronic devices for at least an hour before bed or use blue light filters or apps that reduce blue light emissions!
Last but not least, engaging in mentally stimulating or stressful activities, such as work-related tasks or intense discussions—right before bed—can make it challenging to calm the mind and transition into sleep. Instead, incorporate relaxing activities like reading a book, practicing gentle stretching, or enjoying a warm bath.