The way we live these days is not conducive to ideal sleep, rejuvenation and energy levels. We show our natural circadian clocks little respect, using electronic devices at all hours. We consume a diet that leaves our hormones in shambles. However, there are smart ways to work around these things while not giving up coffee or Facebook.
Here are five smart ways to reconcile twenty-first century living with our natural body mechanisms so that we can rest well and wake up with more energy in the morning.
Cue your brain with light
One of the most effective ways to improve sleep and energy levels is to cross-train the brain using different colors of light. An article published in the journal Cell explains, ”We use external time cues (light and temperature changes that track the day without) to set an internal clock that guides the day within.”
We can effectively tell the brain what time of day it is and what level of energy to produce by feeding it different colors of light. First thing in the morning, the brain must get natural blue-tinted sunlight to be able to wake up, so ensure you step outside for ten minutes upon waking, and whenever you feel tired during the day.
In the evening after sunset, the brain should get sleepy and produce melatonin, but this is inhibited by the blue light from our electronic devices and indoor lights. We often hear that we should stop using computers and smartphones a couple of hours before bed, but this just isn’t realistic. Instead of giving up your tech, you can “hack” this process by wearing orange or yellow tinted glasses in the evening. These warm tones encourage the brain to produce melatonin to prepare for a good sleep.
The third color of light that is needed by the brain is black, or darkness. Total darkness is necessary for deep sleep; even a small speck of light on the skin can cue photosensors and prevent proper rest.
Move… even just a little bit
A common recommendation is to exercise in the morning to boost energy, but this requires a great deal of motivation and self-discipline.
An easier, more achievable idea is just to move a little bit. Post some pictures or a list on the wall in your bedroom or bathroom with some simple movements, such as swinging your arms, squatting and standing up, doing a brief plank, or performing a wall-sit while you brush your teeth. This method has a very low “barrier-to-entry” since so little is required. You don’t need to change into exercise clothes or go to the gym. Just move a tiny bit to get blood flowing, spurred by the visual reminder of the sheet you post on the wall.
This boosts energy levels by encouraging mood-boosting serotonin production in the brain. It also moves oxygen around and ships out toxins from blood that has pooled while you sleep.
Another quick trick to get circulation going for an energy boost is to spend one minute performing an Ayurvedic dry-brush.
Add fat to your coffee
Consuming coffee on its own simply stimulates the adrenal glands to produce more of the stress hormone cortisol. This can leave the adrenals burnt out and send you into an energy dip a few hours later.
Try adding coconut oil or its derivative MCT oil to your morning coffee. It turns out the useful nutrients in coffee are fat-soluble, so adding fat helps to extract them. These nutrients stimulate the nervous system for steady energy, and also control hunger and turn off food cravings. In addition, drinking coffee with a healthy fat is less of a shock to the system than just coffee on its own.
If you start out with organic dry-processed (low-toxin) coffee, you’ll be even better off! Higher quality coffee delivers clean caffeine without other damaging substances.
Consume salt in the morning
Speaking of the adrenal glands, they need a number of minerals in order to function. You can support the adrenals in the healthy production of cortisol — which wakes you up in the morning and makes you feel alert — by consuming a generous sprinkling of mineral-rich pink Himalayan or Celtic grey salt first thing. This can either be added to a glass of water, or used to season your breakfast. Feeding your adrenal glands the minerals they need to produce healthy hormones gives you a more stable energy source and helps regulate that circadian clock.
When it comes time to go to bed again, there are many natural ways you can encourage a deeper sleep.
Use a magnesium oil supplement, which is calming and promotes rest and repair. Try applying 1/4 teaspoon to the skin shortly before bedtime.
Use essential oils such as lavender, vetiver, ylang ylang and marjoram to promote relaxation and good quality sleep.
Eat a little bit of raw honey before going to sleep to keep blood sugar levels stable overnight. A half or whole teaspoon will be enough. This prevents a blood sugar dip (and subsequent cortisol spike), which could wake you up during the night.
Incorporate these simple tips into your routine to rest well and wake up with more energy. It’s easy to get off that merry-go-round of daily tiredness if you use smart hacks that support your body’s natural needs and amazing abilities.
—The Alternative Daily