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For years I thought nutrition was the answer to everything. Trouble sleeping? You’ve had too much caffeine. Feeling foggy? You’ve eaten too much sugar. Getting sick? You need to eat nutrient dense food. But this isn’t always the case, in fact, it’s quite a myopic way of looking at our bodies.
Yes, of course nutrition is incredibly important to our health, but it’s not the only facet. Learning about mitochondrial health, sleep, sun exposure and hormonal balancing, has really illuminated other key elements to living a healthy life.
Here are just 4 natural ways you can improve your sleep.
Deep breathing and breath work can be incorporated into your day in many different ways and patterns but the pattern we’ll discuss today is called “4-7-8”. This pattern is done by inhaling (through your nose) on a 4 second count, holding for 7 seconds, and then exhaling (through your mouth) on a 8 second count.
This might sound silly but never underestimate the power of breathing. This technique not only elevates the oxygen level in your blood but it also helps to shift your body from your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to your parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation).
The 4-7-8 technique forces the mind and body to focus on regulating the breath, rather than replaying your worries when you lie down at night. Proponents claim it can soothe a racing heart or calm frazzled nerves. –Healthline
If you have been following me for a while you know how much I love the healing properties of mushrooms. Reishi in particular is just an incredible superfood that offers so many benefits. One of the benefits its known for the most. however, is its calming effect.
Reishi has powerful immunomodulatory properties that help us handle external stressors. Unlike other sleep aids, this mushroom will not make you drowsy and when used more regularly, it helps our sleep patterns stay uninterrupted.
Did you know that just a little bit of light can cause a lot of issues. To get the best sleep quality possible buy study black out curtains that keep as much light out as possible. This will keep your cortisol levels low, especially if your prone to waking up in the middle of the night.
Research using data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program also looked at the amount of light people were exposed to at night. Findings showed that those who had light exposure while sleeping got about 10 minutes less sleep per night. They also were more likely to report fatigue, wake up confused during the night, and have excessive sleepiness and impaired functioning during the day. -Cleveland Clinic
If you do not want curtains there are also was to black out your windows using a black out window film.
Blue Light Blocking Glasses
As night approaches and darkness sets in, our melatonin levels rise. However, filling our eyes with light (lamps, phones, tv screens etc) past sunset hinders that rising melatonin level and keeps cortisol levels up.
Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours). –Harvard Health Publishing
If you are like me and cannot get to bed at 6:15pm then get yourself a pair of blue light blocking glasses. A good amber colored blue light blocking glasses can block 99.9% of blue light ensuring your melatonin levels to rise properly setting you up for better quality sleep.
Reishi Sleep Study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17383716/
Blue Light Has a Dark Side: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
4-7-8 Breathing: https://www.healthline.com/health/4-7-8-breathing
How are your sleeping patterns? Drop a comment below if you know of another great sleeping hack!