Thanks to the perfect cocktail of fluctuating reproductive hormones, plus melatonin and cortisol levels that are out of whack, you now have a real sleep problem on your hands.
I’ve been down the road of insomnia. It can be absolutely miserable.
Thankfully, there are a variety of things we can do to help get us back on the right track to getting the restorative sleep we need. Primarily, we need to get your stress-levels in check to reduce the amount of chronic cortisol in your system. But we also need to establish self-care routines to ensure that you value your body enough to support natural and healthy circadian rhythms that will allow you to get the sleep that you need and so richly deserve.
Let’s take a look and see how incorporating a few simple changes can help to rebalance your entire sleep routine.
MEDITATION FOR BETTER SLEEP
Take a few minutes each day to sit quietly and pray or meditate. Focus on deep breathing, inhaling slowly through the nose, hanging in the pause at the peak, and then slowly exhaling through your mouth and resting in the pause at the bottom.
Think about things that calm and soothe you, or meditate on a Bible verse, quote, or positive affirmation that speaks to you.
This is especially helpful right before bedtime as it helps to lower your heart rate and stress levels, allowing your mind and body to relax before trying to fall asleep.
If you struggle with sleep because your mind is too busy at night take a few minutes to write some of your thoughts down.
Make lists of things that keep going over and over in your mind and then let them go.
Couple these activities with high-quality essential oils for an ultimate sleep solution. I recommend both diffusing and applying Lavender essential oil to support this nighttime routine, or for an ultimate boost, choose dōTERRA’s SerenityⓇ Restful Blend. Diffuse bedside, drop some on your bedclothes and apply to your pulse points before bed.
For tough sleep issues, try this ultimate sleep-support rollerball blend:
SWEET DREAMS ESSENTIAL OIL ROLLERBALL BLEND
10 drops Lavender essential oil
10 drops Vetiver essential oil
7 drops Marjoram essential oil
4 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil
Carrier oil of choice
Directions: Add essential oils to a 10-mL glass rollerball bottle and fill the rest of the way with a carrier oil. Replace the rollerball top and cap, and then shake gently to blend. To use, roll on your pulse points and the bottoms of your feet to support a restful night’s sleep.
EXERCISE FOR BETTER SLEEP
I know this may be a hard one to fit into your hectic schedule, but it is absolutely necessary to reduce those excess levels of cortisol and to keep your foundation strong.
Simple ways to begin to include sleep-supporting exercise in your routine are easier than you may think. Finding 20 minutes out of your day to go for a brisk walk or a hike can keep your heart pumping, or try incorporating a new exercise routine online into your schedule 3 times per week to start.
I also highly recommend trying yoga, tai chi, or stretching. Light to moderate exercise decreases the level of stress hormones in your bloodstream and releases other hormones that help the body relax. And don’t forget the added benefits of helping to prevent conditions like heart disease and diabetes which can also affect your sleep.
DIET FOR BETTER SLEEP
It’s no secret that too much sugar and caffeine can wind you up, but did you know that caffeine can increase your adrenaline levels as well? It is time to rethink those mass amounts of coffee or energy drinks you are using to get through the day.
Have you ever felt an adrenaline rush? When your brain perceives that you are in some kind of danger, your adrenal glands release adrenaline into your bloodstream to give you a burst of energy and alter your blood pressure, breathing rate, and heart rate in order to help you escape a dangerous situation. While this is helpful some of the time, chronically-elevated adrenaline levels keep you wired, and are tough on your body systems, including your immune system.
So how should you alter your diet to help you catch some better zzz’s? Switch from coffee or energy drinks to antioxidant-rich Matcha Green Tea. Not only will it help you to downsize from the quantity of caffeine you are pumping into your body, but it will support your body in a variety of other ways. Cutting down on your sugar consumption will also help your body’s system to rebalance, so try to eat as much whole foods as possible. Foods like complex carbohydrates, those high in vitamin D3 and B6, tomatoes, walnuts, strawberries, and olive oils will help to boost your serotonin and melatonin levels.
MAGNESIUM FOR SLEEP
You’ve probably heard me mention this vital mineral before, and for good reason. Our bodies require magnesium for hundreds of chemical processes that take place in our bodies. A deficiency can cause hormone disruption, endocrine disorders, and sleep problems. Magnesium has a relaxing effect on the body, especially your muscles, and most people can benefit from taking a daily magnesium supplement.
Not all magnesium supplements are created equal. The one I recommend (get it here) contains magnesium glycinate and magnesium oxide: the 2 most absorbable forms to get the magnesium into your cells ASAP. I recommend taking Magnesium Restore in the evening, about 30 minutes before you go to bed to help you wind down easily.
Another great option is taking a bath with Epsom salts, which are mainly composed of magnesium sulfate. The magnesium will absorb into your bloodstream through your skin this way, plus you’ll have a few minutes of peace and quiet to soak in a warm tub. Simply add ¼ cup of Epsom salts to a warm water bath, and support with 3-4 drops of soothing essential oils. This combination is very relaxing and also allows a natural detox from your skin. Try this blend for a relaxing and restorative experience:
RELAX & RESTORE BATH SOAK BLEND
3 drops Lavender essential oil
2 drops Frankincense essential oil
2 drops Clary Sage essential oil
1 cup Epsom salts or magnesium flakes
Directions: Add Epsom salts and essential oils to a warm water bath and swirl with your hand to dissolve. Soak for no more than 20 minutes to unwind from the day’s stress and prepare your body for a restful night’s sleep. Be sure to rinse off, pat dry, moisturize, and re-hydrate afterwards!
ESSENTIAL OILS FOR SLEEP
Diffusing or applying diluted essential oils is a great way to help you relax and encourage a good night’s sleep. The well-researched effect of relaxing and sedating essential oils leave us with a variety of amazing options to choose from , so sniff and select your favorites!
Some of my favorites are: Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Sweet Marjoram, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Bergamot, and Ylang Ylang essential oils. You can also try combining two or three together, as they can have a synergistic effect. Put a few drops in a diffuser by your bed or add a couple drops to your lotion. Try this diffuser blend to support your sleep, or combine with an essential oil massage for deep relaxation!
SLEEPYTIME DIFFUSER BLEND
3 drops Lavender
3 drops Roman Chamomile
1 drop Vetiver
MORE TIPS FOR DEEP AND RESTFUL SLEEP
Did you know that you might be sabotaging your own sleep routine? In order to cultivate proper sleep hygiene, let’s review a few of the things that can complete the sleep puzzle.
Here are a few more tips to help get you to sleep at night:
- Make sure your bedroom is dark enough – the darker the better.
- Turn off electronic devices such as cell phones, TVs, tablets, and computers at least 30 minutes before bedtime to prevent a disruption in your melatonin production.
- Turn down the temperature! Cooler temperatures help to slow your heart rate and calm your body. The optimal temperature for sleep is between 60-75 degrees, so experiment to see what works best for you.
- Establish a regular bedtime routine. Maybe that includes taking a relaxing bath, reading or doing some light stretching before bed, diffusing essential oils, prayer or meditation, and calming your body down the best way you know how.
- Be consistent with your bedtime and wake time. Find out how much sleep you need by going to bed and not setting an alarm; most adults need 7-8 hours each night.
- Avoid heavy meals late in the evening. A light snack is ok, but try not to eat anything at least two hours before bed.
- If you can help it, exercise earlier in the day. Vigorous exercise later in the evening has a stimulating effect and can delay the onset of sleepiness.
- Sometimes a little white noise can help lull you to sleep, such as a white noise machine or app, a fan, or even the low hum of your diffuser.
THE BOTTOM LINE FOR YOUR
As you can see, the relationship between sleep and hormones is a complex one. When hormone levels are off, they can cause problems with sleep, which can cause more problems with hormone levels. It’s so important that you take the time now to assess what is causing your issues with sleep and to tweak your schedule a bit, making time for a few of the suggestions self-care routines mentioned above. With a few changes and reducing your stress levels, you could be getting a better night’s sleep, restoring your natural hormone levels, having more energy, and maintaining or adjusting your weight to its optimal range.
If you missed part one of this series, Sleeping for Your Hormones: The Hormones Behind the Issue, you can read here!