As the nights get longer, it is time to re-evaluate your slumber
Words by KELLY ATTERTON
What exactly is sleep hygiene? Healthy sleep habits. Behavior during the day, not just in the evening, affects how well we sleep. We drink coffee to perk us up, but the minute the caffeine wears off, it’s followed by an energy crash. We have late-night dinners even though we know it taxes our system with digestion when we should be winding down. We binge-watch TV shows in bed knowing blue light keeps our brains wired. And our phones! We’re on them until lights out, even though research shows an increase in dopamine (hello, social media feedback loop!) disrupts the brain wave oscillations needed for sleep.
There’s a lot of advice out there, much of which sounds like common sense. But rather than cherry-picking tips, we should approach sleep like parents trying to get their babies to stay down through the night. “We sleep train our children, but we never talk about sleep training as an adult, especially after stressful times or periods of change,” says Mona Sharma, an L.A.-based nutritionist and wellness expert who advises healthy living advocates like Jay Shetty, Julianne Hough, and Hrithik Roshan. Sharma stresses that consistency is key: We should go to bed at the same time every night and rise at the same time every morning — including weekends. “If you’re wavering a few hours here and there, it’s the equivalent of moving through life with jet lag and you will feel sluggish and tired,” she says. Setting the stage is important: Your bedroom is meant for sleep, sex, and relaxation. “Invest in soft bamboo sheets, blackout curtains, and some essential oils that cue the brain to rest and relax,” Sharma says.
When you’re building a bedtime ritual, start early. “For slow metabolizers, caffeine can stay in your system for up to 10 hours, affecting both the duration and the depth of sleep,” says James Beshara, founder of Magic Mind Wellness Shots. “The primary way caffeine works to give us energy is by blocking our adenosine neuro-receptors that tell us we’re building fatigue.” Consider swapping the java for organic matcha green tea, which contains L-theanine, shown to improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety.
At the end of the day, Sharma advises her clients to take a quick shower while focusing on their breathing. “With every exhale,” she says, “allow their your thoughts and feelings of stress to wash down the drain.” She also suggests applying a natural oil such as coconut oil or apricot seed oil with a few drops of essential oils. “Then get into bed and spend a few minutes of reading or connecting with your loved one before the lights go out.”
Feature image: Fernando Gomez/Trunk Archive.
This story originally appeared in the Fashionable Living 2023 issue of C Magazine.
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