Sometimes getting a full night’s sleep seems impossible to achieve. No matter the cause – stress, pain, your work schedule, or another reason – if you are not receiving regular quality sleep it can interfere with your health. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says “Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions – such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression – which threaten our nation’s health.”
Sleep Awareness Week (March 6-13) gives us an opportunity to leave insufficient sleep behind and get back to the quality sleep that is so vital to our health and wellness. Here are a few ways you can start getting on track to better sleep habits.
Say adios to technology – well before bedtime.
Smartphones are everywhere and it’s not uncommon to find them creeping into your bedroom. Turn them off. Better than that. Turn them off and keep them in another room. Nix the TV, iPad, laptop, and whatever else has found its way into your resting space. Break the habit and allow yourself to relax on a deep level.
Establish a routine that is calming and relaxing.
Humans are habitual creatures. How you wrap up your day can greatly impact the quality of sleep you receive. Finish the day with warm bath or shower, a cup of tea, cool the temperature in your room, and shut out the lights. Establishing a routine can triggers a natural response that tells the body “it’s time for bed.”
Massage. Massage. Massage.
Not surprising, if you’ve been following this blog. Massage is HUGE when it comes to improving your sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies have found massage to be beneficial for insomnia-related stress, as well as:
Myofascial pain syndrome
Paresthesias and nerve pain
Soft tissue strains or injuries
Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ)
Massage can not only increase relaxation and lower your fatigue, but it can reduce pain and improve your quality of sleep. Which can also help restore your sleep pattern. With our schedules getting busier and our use of technology increasing, the need for sleep has become more important than ever. Massage is a great way to fulfill that need. In effort to celebrate Sleep Awareness Week, schedule a massage and be on your way to a better night’s sleep.
Talk to your doctor. They will be able to discuss what treatment options are best for you. Already have talked to your doctor, but still can’t sleep? Talk to your doctor. Seriously, follow up with them. Sleep is important.
*I’m an Independent Consultant for this company. If you purchase through this link, I earn a commission.
**I get most of my essential oils from Aromatics International. They’re great. If you purchase using this link, we’ll both earn $10 in credit.
I think we can all agree that stress sucks. It can lead to tense muscles, lack of sleep, and has been linked to many health problems: depression, anxiety, heart attacks, ulcers, and migraines to name a few. Massage Therapy is a great stress reliever, and while I make sure to get a 60 or 90 minute massage every few weeks, I don’t always have a massage therapist handy when I need one (except for me, but I can’t really massage my own back). Here’s a few of my favorite stress relievers:
1. Play with your cat. Seriously, cat owners have less stress than non pet owners (dog owners have less stress too, but cat owners are #1 in less stress). What? You don’t have a cat? Did you know June is National Adopt a Cat Month? The Champaign County Humane Society and CatSnap always have plenty of cats that need a good home. If adopting a cat is too much of a commitment, they also need volunteers to help with the cats. It’s pretty fun; you get to pet cats and help out your local community.
2. Get outside. Take a walk. Or find a shady spot to read a good book. Just being in nature soothes my stress.
3. Do a bit of yoga. Bonus points if you do your yoga outside. Here’s a few short chair yoga videos. They were made by a local yoga instructor, Maggie Taylor. If you have time for a longer class, you can find her and other great instructors in Champaign at the Living Yoga Center and Reflect Yoga Therapy.
4. Smell some essential oils*. Sweet Orange, Lavender, and Peppermint are some of my favorites. (*I get most of my essential oils from Aromatics International. They’re great. If you decide to buy some, use this link and we’ll both earn $10 in credit.)
5. Give yourself a massage! Did you know you can use a tennis ball to massage your back? It works great on your upper back between your shoulder blades. Just position the tennis ball between your back and a wall. Take care with the pressure and don’t put pressure directly on your spine. It can be a bit tricky to get right, but if you can’t get someone else to give you a massage, give it a try. Of course, you can always call your favorite massage therapist and schedule a massage!
Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oils (aromatic substances distilled from plants). Essential oils are commonly blended into massage oil or used in room diffusers. Here are a few reasons to add aromatherapy to your next massage:
Massage can reduce stress, help with anxiety and depression, alleviate pain, and enhance the quality of sleep. All good things. Aromatherapy is often used to help with these same things. Some research suggests that aromatherapy may enhance the positive effects of massage.
They smell good. ‘Nuff said.
The aroma can affect your mood. There is a direct connection between the scent receptors in your nose and the part of the brain that controls your emotional responses. I know whenever I smell Bergamot (which gives Earl Grey tea its lovely aroma) it calms me.
You know how your nose gets all stuffy when you get a massage? A drop of Eucalyptus or Peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball placed under the face cradle can help with that!