Getting a good night’s sleep (6-8 hours per night) is crucial for your health, and too much or too little is known to cause problems in many areas. Among the negative effects caused by sleep deprivation are a weaker immune system, weight gain, memory loss, and increase in stress-related disorders such as ulcers, constipation, and heart disease.
And on a more superficial note, sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your looks, causing dark circles or bags under your eyes, make your skin break-out, and give you an overall listless, washed out look that you don’t need any day, let alone on your wedding day!
The good news is, there are many natural techniques you can learn to get the beauty rest you need, whether you have difficulty falling asleep, waking up too often, or still feel tired when you wake up in the morning.
Create a Peaceful Sleep Sanctuary
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your internal clock. Close your bedroom door, pull down the shades, get rid of night-lights, cover up your glow-in-the-dark alarm clock. Don’t turn on any light at all during the night, even when getting up to go to the bathroom. Wearing an eye mask may help.
- Keep your room cool. Many people keep their bedrooms too warm, but the temperature should be no higher than 70 degrees F. Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is quite cool, between 60 to 68 degrees. If you are too hot or cold, it can lead to restless sleep.
- Your bed is for sleeping. If you are used to watching TV or doing work in bed, you may find it harder to relax and drift off to sleep, so avoid doing these activities in bed.
- Sleep alone. Recent studies suggest that sharing a bed with a partner (or pets) can significantly impair sleep, especially if your bed mate is a restless sleeper or snores. If this is the case, you may want to consider a separate bedroom.
Preparing for Bed
- Get to bed as early as possible. Your body does a majority of its recharging between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder dumps toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins back up into your liver, which can further disrupt your health.
- Don’t change your bedtime. You should go to bed and wake up at the same times each day, even on the weekends. This will help your body to get into a sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and get up in the morning.
- Relax. Make time for a relaxing bedtime routine, which could include meditation, deep breathing, relaxation CD’s, using aromatherapy or essential oils or indulging in a massage from your partner. The key is to find something to help you release the tensions of the day.
- Eliminate the bathroom problem. Don’t drink any fluids within 2 hours of going to bed, and go to the bathroom right before bed. This will reduce the chances that you’ll wake up to go in the middle of the night.
- Eat the right foods before bedtime. Several hours before bed eat a high-protein snack, which will aid in melatonin and serotonin production. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. But don’t eat anything right before bed, particularly grains and sugars. If you do have something, snack on a small piece of fruit.
- Take a hot bath, shower or sauna before bed. When your body temperature is raised in the late evening, and then falls at bedtime, it facilitates slumber. The temperature drop signals your body it’s time for bed.
- Put your work away at least one hour before bed. This includes seating charts and those DIY centerpieces! You need to give your mind a chance to unwind so you can go to sleep feeling calm, not hyped up or anxious about tomorrow’s deadlines.
- No TV or suspense novels right before bed. Anything that’s too stimulating to the brain will prevent you from falling asleep quickly. TV disrupts your pineal gland function. Instead, try reading something spiritual or uplifting, which may help you relax.
- Keep a Journal. If you find yourself in bed with your mind racing, it might be helpful keep a journal and write down your thoughts before bed. Getting things out of your system will help you fall asleep.
- Exercise regularly. Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day can improve your sleep. But don’t exercise too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake. Morning exercise is the best if you can manage it.
For more advice, information, and further reading on the tips mentioned above, please read 33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep by Dr. Mercola