One thing that everyone in the world has in common is universal access to the body’s most powerful restorative medicine, sleep. Few people realize the critical importance of sleep, and that there are daily habits that can make or break the effectiveness of your dream time. A restful night of sleep has unbeatable health benefits, from healing wounds and infection, to clearing out toxic wastes, and restoring the strength of our minds and muscles.
However, many are under the false impression that sleep time is optional, and can be traded for the sake of getting more done with your day. Ironically, missing out on sleep has not only proven to decrease the quality of work done when one is sleep deprived, but studies show that while people might “feel” more productive doing an activity during a late night session, they actually performed at a lower productivity rate than those doing their work during the day.
The science of sleep has demonstrated the average adult needs a non-negotiable 7 hours of sleep per night in order to maintain bodily functions, and keep a balanced mental/emotional state. Beyond the physical necessities of sleep, many spiritual traditions connect sleeping to the well being of the soul as well. If better sleep is something you feel would increase your quality of life, check out our 10 ways to improve sleep quality below, and download our sleep quality app to start enjoying the benefits of quality rest tonight.
1. Lights Out
We have been living in spaces with artificial blue light from LED bulbs, computer, cell phone, and television screens for decades, and research is just now beginning to surface that directly implicates our tech as the culprit for why so many people are experiencing disturbed sleeping cycles. This new blue-spectrum light is the opposite of the orange light of the sun, or fire, that humanity’s body has evolved with since the dawn of our kind. Collectively, we have never been exposed to blue spectrum light in such massive amounts, and research suggests a key factor of proper sleep is exposing your body to proper lighting as you are winding down.
The body has a delicate clock of its own known as the Circadian Rhythm, that when working properly, gets you up and moving with the sun, and tells your body when it's time to rest at night through the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Blue light has been found to suppress the pineal gland's production of melatonin, and interfere with the natural bio-rhythms of the body; causing insomnia, and difficulty keeping to a healthy sleeping schedule.
Experts recommend turning off your screen at least one hour before bed. If you must use artificial lights and screens at night, here are some things you can do to help support your body’s ability to maintain it’s circadian rhythm.
- Install an app like f.lux on your computer to change the spectrum of light your computer is emitting.
- Limit night time television use.
- If you have an Iphone, there is a secret “red mode” you can activate to combat this problem.
- Wear orange tinted glasses, also known as “blue blockers”, to cancel out all blue spectrum light.
- Get black out curtains and sleep in total darkness to fully optimize conditions for the functionality of your pineal gland.
2. Become Conscious of the Sleep Cycle of Your Internal Organs
Did you know your pancreas goes to sleep around 7pm? This very important organ is responsible for assisting in digestion and regulating your blood sugar. When we eat food at night, especially anything containing even trace amounts of sugar, it will remain undigested in your stomach until morning. This is one of the major factors behind the intermittent fasting craze that has revolutionized the world of health. Eating too close to bed time has been linked to increased incidents of nightmares, waking up feeling sluggish, and even increased risk for certain diseases. Give your body a break by saying no to food or drinks that contain calories after 6pm as often as possible, preferably at least 5 times per week.
3. Reward Yourself
Design a bedtime routine that feels like a reward for all that you have done during the day. You may even want to consider setting a bed time alarm on your phone or other devices to remind you that it’s time to start winding down. Here are some ways you can treat yourself before heading to bed:
- Herbal tea: If you are a night time snacker by habit, a great replacement for your craving could be herbal tea. As long as you don’t add any sweetener or milk, it shouldn’t disrupt your pancreas, or your fasted state. Teas like lavender, chamomile, valerian, and passionflower are all known to have calming effects on our system, and can be a delicious way to end the day.
- A good book: Read yourself a bedtime story if your mind still feels too active at night. It is a good way to burn up excess mental energy, without exposing yourself to excess amounts of artificial lights as compared to reading off of a screen. Pro tip – keep it light and uplifting to avoid inspiring any unpleasant dreams.
- Meditation: Find freedom from your thoughts by practicing meditation before bed. Focus on your breath, or on a mantra (we’ve recommended one below to up your chances of lucid dreaming) before you drift off to sleep can help put you in the right mindset for restful sleep.
- Gratitude: Keeping a gratitude practice at the end of the day can help uplift the emotional state, and sense of well being. It also builds neural networks for increased happiness over time. Count as many things as you can think of in your environment or events that happened in your day that you can feel thankful for each night before bed and you may find you enjoy your sleep, and your life much more.
- Facial massage: One of the lesser known points of sleep disruption can actually come from tension stored in the jaw. Spend 5 minutes before bed massaging your face in small, circular motions, starting from the temples, and working your way down your face’s jaw muscles. Use coconut oil, or another skin-safe oil to avoid any friction, and help nourish your skin.
4. Check the Temperature
One of the best things about sleeping is the feeling of being cozy and warm in bed. However, if the body gets too warm, we can have trouble falling or staying asleep. Sleeping in cooler temperatures allows the body to feel at rest, and has been linked to better metabolism, balanced blood sugar, and good melatonin production.
5. Use White Noise
If you live in a situation where you are exposed to the noise of neighbors, traffic, pets, and other sleep-disrupting sounds, a white noise generator can make all of the difference. There are downloads available for pure white noise, as well as free videos on Youtube with 10 hours of continuous ocean waves that will keep you sleeping peacefully all night (just remember to keep your screen turned off).
6. Make Your Room Smell Dreamy
Scent has an amazing power over the body. Certain smells can key our body chemistry into peace and relaxation. Get a diffuser and find one of these organic essential oils with the scent relaxes you the most:
- Clary Sage
- Sweet Marjoram
- Roman Chamomile
7. Eating for Sleep
There are a handful of herbs and foods that you can include in your daily life to support the healthy production of melatonin. Foods that contain tryptophan, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin B6 will provide your body the necessary ingredients to synthesize melatonin from scratch, but there is a pretty long list of foods that actually contain melatonin.
Here's a list of foods you can eat to boost the amount of melatonin in your system:
- Fruits & veggies; including tart cherries, pomegranates, olives, grapes, broccoli, & cucumber
- Grains; barley, rolled oats, & rice
- Seeds & nuts are also an excellent source; walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, mustard seeds, & flaxseed
8. Study up.
Sometimes learning more deeply about a subject helps provide the needed motivation for making lifestyle changes. Here is one inspiring resource that will help you learn more about the importance of sleep, as well as the science behind the beneficial practices we have mentioned so far in this article.
This fun and informative video podcast between host, Joe Rogan, and sleep scientist, Matthew Walker, will catch you up on the current science and research regarding the amazing capabilities of sleep:
9. Live Your Dream Life
If we are going to spend 1/3 of our lives asleep, we might as well make it interesting! As you improve your circadian rhythm and quality of sleep, you may notice your dreams becoming more vivid. There is even a way to become conscious in your dreams, a practice known as “lucid dreaming”, where you are able to gain control of and direct your dream experience. It’s like being alive in a fully immersive virtual reality that you can customize yourself in real time!
Accessing the lucid state can be as simple as setting goals and keeping practices in your waking life that encourage lucid dreaming at night. Even simply meditating on the affirmation while you are falling asleep every night, repeating the mantra “ I’m having a lucid dream” has been enough for some to become conscious in their dream state. If becoming lucid is a goal of yours, remember to be patient with the process. The more you think about it, the more likely it is to happen.
Keeping a dream journal can help to increase dream recall so that you can actually remember your epic dream adventures, and over time, can begin to show you patterns within the stories your subconscious takes you through at night. There are various methods of dream interpretation that have been developed over the ages that might even help turn your dreams into a method of self development.
10. Pineal Sleep Support
Inspired by the multifaceted importance of sleep, and the rewards of cultivating an inspiring dream life, Subtle Energy Sciences has developed a very unique, but powerful tool for enhancing your sleep experience. Click here to learn more about Pineal Sleep Support, and add it to your nightly routine to fully optimize your dream life.