• Rhonda Norman

Improve your mind with better sleep.

Updated: Oct 6

LIFESTYLE CHANGES with Leah Michel I struggled with sleep during quarantine. Now, historically, I have always been a good sleeper, but quarantine brought to light places where I could change and improve my overall sleeping habits. Quarantine, and the abrupt disruption of our lives, has had a huge impact on all of us in some way. The amount of physical, emotional, mental, and financial stress we have endured in recent months has changed fundamental processes in our bodies that we may have been unaware of. My aim is to equip you with tools you can use to evaluate where you may be struggling with getting good sleep, and what you can do to modify these behaviours, habits, and mindsets that are sabotaging your ability to get the good quality sleep your body craves. Come along with me as we explore your body, mind, emotions, and spirit and how those play a critical role in your sleep. WHAT EFFECTS SLEEP


1. NUTRITION | What type of food are you eating? When? What is the energy behind it (rushed, stressed, relaxing with loved ones)?

2. MEDIA CONSUMPTION | Have you just watched or read the news? Watched a show that got you amped up (good or bad, doesn’t matter)? Read a book or article that got your mind going?

3. BEDTIME RITUALS | Do you read in bed, watch tv in bed, use your device in bed, or sleep with your device next to you?

4. SLEEPING MINDSET | Do you look forward to bed, dread it, stress about tomorrow’s to-do list? THE EFFECT OF FOOD ON YOUR SLEEP

When we eat, certain chemical processes start happening in our body, some of these provide us with quality energy to our muscles and our mind to inspire thought, wake us up, and power us through the day. Some of these foods take a lot of energy to digest, so our body and mind can become tired as our resources are diverted to digesting. Our emotions in general will affect how we eat, If we’re stressed and rushing through meals, not only do we not enjoy them, but we also have a greater propensity to overeat, If we’re angry or depressed, our appetite may be too, and we may not have enough fuel to power normal function throughout our day. Not only do the kinds of food we eat matter (and vary widely for each of us depending on our needs) but the way in which we approach mealtimes, especially in the evenings, can profoundly affect how we sleep. If mealtime is something we rush through to get to the next “thing”, then our body will be in a state of stress and inflammation as it works to digest this glorious food we’re trying to fuel it with. That will decrease the effectiveness of not only digestion but also the nutrient extraction and usage from our food. Whether alone with few distractions in a quiet space or surrounded by people we care about in a space that fosters connection, if we are relaxed, our bodies use food to our advantage. Without stress, inflammatory processes in our bodies are diminished, allowing for greater benefit all around.


THE EFFECT OF MEDIA ON YOUR SLEEP

I think it’s apparent now, more than ever, that media consumption has the potential to be really unhealthy. It causes stress levels to rise, increases our anxiety and, generally, isn’t beneficial for us in the long term. This isn’t to say that being informed is bad and we should all strive to be ignorant. No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. But we should be very, VERY, mindful of the media we are letting into our homes and how it affects not only us as individuals but also our family. Be mindful of the types of media you consume, how it makes you feel and how it affects the dynamics in your home. If you need to, set limits and boundaries around media consumption. The stress that media can create in our bodies can raise our blood pressure, increase our heart rate, increase systemic inflammation and make it difficult for our parasympathetic system (our rest and digest system) to take over as we get ready to rest for the evening.


THE EFFECT IF BED TUNE RITUALS ON YOUR SLEEP

Are there things you do around bedtime that hamper your ability to wind down? Do you watch a fun show that may amp you up? Do you spend a lot of time scrolling on your phone or tablet? Does your bedtime ritual naturally help you wind down? Take some time this week and examine your bedtime ritual. Why do you do the things that you do in the order you do them? Is it helping foster a great resting environment? Are there things that need to change? What are they? What can you replace them with? If you sleep with your phone by your bed, or next to you, I would encourage you to look up studies about the effect this can have on the brain. Consider keeping your phone and other mobile devices across the room from you, at a minimum. Ideally, you place these devices in a common area of the house instead of right next to you. Try it for a week and see if your sleep, attitude, stress levels are any different. THE EFFECT OF YOUR MINDSET ON SLEEP

I remember finding out that not everyone liked bed time. I personally love sleep. I love going to sleep, I love laying in my bed, I love dreaming, I like snuggling under the covers. My body heals when I sleep. I get to rest. Sleeping, for me, is awesome.


See if you can write down what emotions you are feeling about sleeping, or bedtime. Do you get any benefit out of sleeping (spoiler alert, you do, but you may not be realizing ALL the benefits if your sleep is crap), what can sleeping do for you? What would you like to get out of sleeping? How would you like to approach it? What would your ideal sleep situation look like? Can you create that now? If not, what is in the way of you doing that? Though, I distinctly remember being on a trip with a friend who doesn’t sleep well and doesn’t like to sleep. I began to realize not everyone likes night time. Not everyone enjoys sleeping. Whether it brings up bad memories from childhood, or night terrors, or nightmares, or PTSD, consider your attitude towards sleeping. Quarantine has increased our stress levels across the board. Stress makes it hard for us to do a lot of things, let alone sleep well. Quarantine has also provided wonderful opportunities for me to experiment with different things. PRACTICAL CHANGES FOR BETTER SLEEP

If you are currently using over the counter sleep aids, consider trying the following, less habit-forming options: Melatonin (contrary to popular belief, studies show less is more when taking a supplement). If you’re plagued by anxiety-try a magnesium/calcium supplement.


Last, but not least, consider meditating before bed. I found, through personal experience and experimentation during quarantine, that I sleep better when I meditate, I almost always wake up before my alarm, and my attitude is generally much better when an alarm does not wake me up. Even nights where I get less than 8 hours of sleep a night, if I’ve made the time to meditate before going to sleep, I typically have plenty of energy the next day. I use the evening meditation by Dr. Joe Dispenza. Also, consider using a diffuser with essential oils in your home and/or bedroom.


When it comes to scents, though, I always revert back to what smells relax me. Those may not be the typical scents you see in lists online, so feel free to experiment to find what works best for you.

If you don’t want to purchase a meditation, there are plenty of apps centred around mindfulness you may find useful. Another alternative is to spend 5-15 minutes every night sitting quietly with your eyes closed reviewing and naming all the things you are grateful for. If you enjoy writing or journaling, you might list them all out. The key with making any lasting changes is to give it time, make small, sustainable changes, and don’t be afraid to experiment. If you need help implementing these changes or have other questions, I am happy to support you. Email or call me and we can set up a time to chat about your particular issues/questions.

PIN AND TONICS HOLISTIC HEALTH CARE YOU CAN COUNT ON

How to connect with Leah Michel:

Website: http://pinandtonics.squarespace.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pinandtonics

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pinandtonicsacupuncture/

Email: pinandtonicsbc@gmail.com

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