How to Achieve Powerful Sleep
by Patricia Pimentel Selassie, ND, CNS
I bet you’ve never thought about getting a powerful night’s rest before, but power is just what you’ll get if you make it a priority to get enough hours of sleep.
Stop for a moment and consider the following:
- Why is a hospital full of beds?
- When you were sick and stayed home from school as a child, why did your mom always put you back in bed?
- Why is it natural for Grandma to say, “I am going to lie down to gather my strength”?
The answer is: you don't heal when you're commuting to work, you're not healing when you're cooking, and you stay unwell when you're sitting on the couch watching TV. Most restoration and healing happens during sleep.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where not sleeping is glorified. People say things like, “Oh, I only need six hours of sleep every night,” or , “I can get by on four hours sleep.” Well, I'm sure you can get by, but it’s not good for you. You are just not getting enough healing time. Studies show that most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
The human race got off its natural rhythms with the invention of electricity. It used to be that when the sun came down, we calmed down and got ready for bed. When the sun rose up, we hopped out of bed and started our day. Now, it's even worse because we not only have electric lights as a disturbance, but there are iPads, Kindles, smart phones and high-definition T.V. The light from these screens also disrupts our sleep hormones.
To get power from a good night’s rest, we have create the optimal environment for sleep. One thing we can do is make a rule that we look at no screens past a certain time. We can say, “I am not going to text, check my email, touch a screen, or watch T.V. past 8 pm.” This absence of stimulation will calm the mind down for sleep. For those of you who like to watch T.V. while going to bed, it would be best if you could break this habit, but at least get a timer that turns the T.V. off automatically so that the crime show you’ve been watching does not visit you in your dreams.
Make sure your bed is for only two activities, sleep and intimacy. We shouldn’t be paying our bills in bed, we shouldn’t be playing chess in bed, don't eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in bed. Reserve this sacred space for resting. Doing so will make sleep much more effective.
We should all be in bed before midnight. According to Chinese Medicine, any rest that we get before midnight gives a better quality of sleep. If you get eight hours of sleep, those first hours before midnight are more restful. If you want to go to bed at sunset, go for it; you are doing yourself a favor.
Another thing you can do is to set your alarm clock to signal bedtime. Instead of having an alarm for jolting you out of bed, set an alarm clock as a signal to go to bed. When your alarm goes off at 9 or 10 pm, that’ll be the signal to think about calming down for sleep. Turn down the lights, light some candles, get a cup of calming tea, put on your cozy pajamas, and brush your teeth.
A lot of times, my patients will tell me that they can't sleep at night so they get up and mop the floor and do all the dishes and try to exhaust themselves into sleeping. That doesn't work because they’re actually sending a message to their brains to secrete hormones like cortisol to get going again. That cortisol secretion wakes them up. We want to secrete melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that induces sleep. Some ways to create melatonin are to close the curtains, turn off the lights, and get the room as dark as possible.
It’s perfectly safe to take Melatonin as a supplement for sleep, and there are others. One of my favorites is Valerian. Valerian is a sedative and will make you feel drowsy. You can find it in a tincture or in combination. Sleep Hx by Invite Health is a great supplement that helps you relax. It’s a combination of Valerian, Hops, and Passion Flower. Camomile Tea is always a great calming tea that will help you unwind and also soothe the digestive tract.
A great resource is the The Promise of Sleep by Dr. William Dement. He did a lot of very informative research on sleep.
So here’s to a powerful night’s sleep. Get healing!