What would you give for a good night's sleep?

From Natalie Duhamel, Holistic Health Coach:

Aside from making mornings so much more pleasant, it's important to sleep well so that your body can rest and repair itself. Sleeping soundly and long enough also helps weight loss.

I've had several people recently inquire as to whether or not I could help them with their sleep issues. As a holistic health coach, I absolutely can give you advice on to get a better night's sleep. Below are just a few powerful recommendations on how you canmaximize your time between the sheets (sleeping, that is!).

1) Reduce or eliminate caffeine.

I know I'm not going to be popular with this tip but caffeine is a major stimulant (even if you feel like you're so sensitized to it that it doesn't affect you). If you don't want to give it up completely, drink it in the morning only when your body's natural cortisol rises anyway to help you wake up.
If you indulge in coffee (or any caffeinated beverage) in the afternoon, you will mess with your body's natural rhythm of reducing cortisol and boosting melatonin as you move toward sleep. Even if you are able to fall asleep after having had afternoon caffeine, you may wake up in the night or have a fitful sleep. This will keep you from the deep sleep your body needs and you will wake up feeling tired and lethargic in the morning.

Even decaffeinated coffee can still have caffeine in it, and there are often a lot of toxicchemicals used in the process. Switch to herbal tea, hot water, or caffeine-free herbal coffee replacements like Tecchino or Bambu.

2) Meditate

Meditation can sound very "woo-woo" to people who have never tried it. But sittingin a comfortable place with no distractions and thinking of nothing at all for 10 to 20 minutes per day can really do a lot to quiet your mind and reduce your stress. If you can quiet your mind, you will probably fall asleep a lot faster and stay asleep all night rather than waking up at 2 am to remember to put tomatoes on your shopping list.

If you prefer to do your meditation in motion, take a walk outside and take deep breaths of fresh air and get out of your head. Focus on your surroundings and the beauty of nature around you. Yoga can also be a great meditation in motion.

3) Exercise

Our bodies were designed to move! As regards sleep, regular physical activity can helpyou fall asleep and stay asleep. Just beware of exercising too close to bedtime; you may feel more stimulated than restful. Research has shown that it’s best to finish yourexercise routine a few hours before bed.

4) Sleep in the dark

If you need to block out city lights, get some room darkening shades. Use ear plugs if you need it to be more quiet. Make sure your room is cool at night; use a programmable thermostat if you can. I like to run a humidifier both to combat dryness and to create white noise.

5) Create a restful pre-bed routine

Turn off the pop, hip-hop and rap at least an hour before bedtime. Listen to soothing music, or no music at all. Turn the lights down. Step away from your computer and other electronics. Take a bath, read a book. Do what you can to wind down and prepare yourself for a wonderful night's sleep.

Of course, if we work together one-on-one I can tailor my recommendations to your particular issues and needs. Some people may need to use natural supplements to reset their natural sleep cycle, but most people can just implement new routines similar to the ones above and sleep like a baby.

Natalie Duhamel is a Winnipeg-based Certified Holistic Health Coach who works with women and men to help them reduce stress, improve nutrition, lose weight, increase energy levels and live their BEST life!

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