After the long, dark days of winter, Daylight Savings Time signals the coming of spring when the days start getting longer (finally!). While losing one hour of sleep for this occasion is not cause for concern, consistently missing out on high quality sleep is; sleep is a time when the body can rest, recover, and heal from the stress it undergoes on a daily basis. It’s an important, but often overlooked, aspect of physical wellness. Research shows that sleep impacts many areas of health, but here’s a brief overview of some of the heaviest hit when sleep is lacking:
It can help by increasing the availability of tryptophan, found in poultry, dairy, and eggs. This essential amino acid undergoes a series of chemical changes to end up as the hormone melatonin, which helps support our natural circadian rhythms and sleep cycles. However, research is mixed as to whether dietary changes really impact blood levels of tryptophan. Eating smaller, lighter meals and avoiding eating for about two hours before bedtime can also help with falling and staying asleep.
It can hurt if you consume a large, rich, or heavily spiced meal. This can lead to acid reflux, discomfort, or more frequent trips to the bathroom, all of which are very disruptive when trying to get a restful night’s sleep.
It can help increase energy throughout the day, leaving you just tired enough to quickly fall asleep at night. Exercise can also help people to sleep more soundly with fewer disturbances, which results in a more restorative sleep session.
It can hurt if you exercise too close to bedtime; besides the extra energy you may have, you may also have an increased body temperature for several hours afterwards. It’s generally easier to fall asleep when our body temperature is lower, so try to get your workout in earlier in the day if possible.
It can help by….well, it really doesn’t help at all. Stress contributes to the poor health consequences mentioned earlier, so make sleep a priority. Setting a schedule, committing to your sleep routine, and focusing on eliminating or reducing disruptors will go a long way towards improving sleep quality and leave you feeling more rested.
And finally: Know when to take a break and just…rest. It’s easy to over-commit; we’ve all done it, and it can be hard to say “no” to things. But knowing when to step back is important, so be able to recognize when you need to. Whether that means hitting the sheets earlier than normal, foregoing a workout to relax instead, or postponing social plans, you’ll get more benefit from this in the long run.
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10 drops of Lavender essential oil (or substitute your favorite scent)
1 oz. of witch hazel (to dilute the essential oil to be able to mix with water)
3 oz. water
Jar or bottle with lid and spray attachment
Small funnel (optional, but very helpful)
**Caution: some essential oils may be harmful for poisonous to pets. Use care when selecting scents, and keep out of reach of children and animals.