Sleeping well is as important as making sure that our diet is the adequate. While we sleep, our body works to promote healthy brain function and maintain good physical health. During that time we give our body the opportunity to rest and our organism to repair itself. It is important to keep in mind that sleeping is a basic need that has to be satisfied to avoid metabolic diseases and mood disorders. In children and adolescents this activity plays an even more essential role, since it helps them to promote their growth and development.
We, humans, are creatures of habits. In regard to this matter, when we establish rituals that we repeat every day before going to bed, we help the body enter a relaxation phase that allows us to sleep more easily.
To understand the practices that I will expose bellow in more depth, it is worth paying attention to our “biological clock”. That is to say, a series of chemical reactions that take place in our bodies that regulate the functioning of our organism. For example, the desire or urge to sleep are determined, among other factors, by a compound called adenosine. The level of this substance in the body increases as the day goes by. On the other hand, external signals, such as light, also regulate this "clock". The fact of perceiving clarity suggests the brain that it is day time and helps the body act according to this indicator. For this reason, a few hours before going to sleep, we should avoid the light of mobile, tablets and computers screen, because they can send confusing signals to the brain and prevent us from sleeping properly. Similarly, during the night, the body releases melatonin. This substance tells us that it is time to sleep and helps us relax.
Therefore, it is important to establish behaviours that help us ensure a satisfactory night's sleep.
1. Lower the lights and use some candles instead: Setting a nice, darker and cozy environment helps us getting in the mood for relaxation and gives our body signals of night time. Candles have a calming effect that will aid with stress relief.
2. Yoga before bed: Yoga is a great physical activity that can have more benefits when practiced before going to sleep. The stretches are going to relax the muscles by releasing the tension from the day. Besides, the breathing exercises while practicing yoga slow the heart rate, lowering the blood pressure and inducing a deep state of relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep.
3. Burn some sage or palo santo: Smelling relaxing essences before going to bed helps us relax and get ready to sleep. Some research suggests that sage contains compounds that could help ease insomnia.
4. Apply some lavender oil on your feet: The bottoms of your feet are key absorption points. Lavender has well known sleeping qualities. When applied on the feet, they are going to quickly pass through layers of skin and release its benefits into the body more efficiently.
5. Read a book: Instead of watching tv or looking at the phone, to avoid exposure to blue lights, read a book. When reading our mind get distracted from daily concerns and stress.
6. Practice gratitude: This exercise is perfect in order to set positive emotions and avoid tensions before going to bed. Writing down or saying what we are grateful help us reduce anxiety and feel more optimistic, leaving our minds with positive thoughts.
7. Meditate: Meditating before going to bed helps prepare the body and mind to rest. Focusing on the breath, the body releases tensions and stays away from stress. Practising 10 minutes of meditation before sleeping can help the brain reduce distractions and improve cognition.