Note: Suggestions in her columns are merely from Sitara’s own personal experience and are not intended to treat, prevent or diagnose any disease. Check with your health care practitioner before starting any new health regimens.
GET SOME. (SLEEP)
Parents fantasize about good sleep like single people dream about private island escapes, champagne, caviar, and souped up sports cars. Once children come along life becomes full of love and laughter, but sleeping in or full, uninterrupted nights of sleep come to a halt. The first year or so of frequent waking often throws parent’s biological clocks off, or creates ‘sleep anxiety’ – Will I ever be able to sleep well again? The baby is asleep but I’m AWAKE! And other common worries.
But fear not. You can get yourself to a relaxed and easy place so that when your schedule allows, you fall asleep quickly and rest deeply so you’re refreshed when parenting duties resume (however early ;).
I like to look at this from a multi-tiered perspective, and when we work on these issues the great thing is your overall health will improve and you may look and feel younger, and find your immune system is stronger! Both the better sleep and the techniques I’ll suggest to get you feeling your best!
Find a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals. Over the counter or prescription meds can be habit forming and can have a lot of side effects, including making you groggy or depressed then next day. Also as a parent I don’t like to take anything that completely ‘knocks me out’ as I need to be alert should my child require attention or help during the night. Natural supplements and herbs can be very effective – and require moderation themselves. They work to truly relax you, rather than sedate you.
Just one or a combination of a few remedies can be very effective
Magnesium: I discovered that most of my stress, anxiety and sleeplessness were due to a magnesium deficiency. In our modern society deficiency in magnesium is very common, due to depleted soil, processed foods and stress. We need Magnesium to soften our muscles, digestive tract and relax us on a very basic level. Many people find that adding a high quality magnesium supplement fixes their sleep and stress issues within a matter of a few days. I have been using Natural Calm magnesium for about 8 years now and so does everyone in my family! It’s a powder that mixes with water to form a highly ‘absorbable’ drink.
Melatonin: Best for temporary sleep disruptions like travel or a new baby who suddenly sleeps through the night. Research it to find out if it’s right for you. I take it occasionally and it’s very effective, but I only use 1-2 milligrams – it can be too sedating in high doses!
L-theanine. It’s the element of green tea responsible for relaxing you, without the caffeine. Studies show that people who take L-theanine sleep more deeply, have better moods and are more relaxed. It gives me a Zen, peaceful feeling and I take it often.
Herbs: Valerian, Passionflower, Skullcap, Catnip and Chamomile are commonly found in sleep formulations. Gentle and calming, find out if they work for you.
LIFESTYLE: Making changes to your day can greatly affect how well you sleep at night… which then leads you to have happier more productive days! IT’s a great cycle if you can take control of it in a healthy way.
This is my number one secret to getting a good night’s sleep. And for being happy in general! We tend to get into this way of thinking that ‘exercise is only for gym bunnies’ or very young people or ‘I don’t have time for it’ etc. Yet being active is the key to our lasting happiness and overall success and health in life. Human beings evolved to walk long distances. To run. To hunt, gather and then farm the land. Not to sit at a desk or surf Facebook for hours. Anytime we can get out or get active our entire state of being is elevated. How does it directly relate to sleep?
When you’re active in the day you relax more deeply at night. You burn off stress hormones like cortisol and release feel-good hormones like serotonin. And feeling healthy and slim is a nice bonus!
HOW: Get 30-60 minutes exercise 6 days a week. Sound daunting? It needn’t be. A brisk walk. Jog next to your child while they bike. Push the stroller to the grocery store and back instead of driving. Get to the gym and read your favorite magazine while going at a good clip on the bike or elliptical. Take a class. Go for a quick jog & stretch when your partner is watching the kids.
Turn of Technology: Before bed stay off social media sites and take time to breathe, reflect on the day, give your undivided attention to your sweet little ones at their bedtimes. Chat with your partner or read a book. Studies show that staying on the computer or smartphone causes melatonin production to stop, because of the blue light (which signals to the brain the light of the day sky.) Powering down is also a nice way to detox from the constant wireless communicating we do all day, and get present in the moment. My husband and I have a “No cell phones in the bedroom rule” and it’s given us a lot of serenity.
Breathe. Meditate on a mantra that calms you, like “Peace” or “All is well” while you breathe slowly and deeply and let the body relax. Listen to peaceful music in headphones or a guided meditation before bed. This puts me to sleep very quickly as it stops the endless thoughts, worries, to do lists that go around in my head all day – which any mom can relate to! I like Louise L Hay’s guided meditations, or many Reiki or Yoga music compilations. Deva Premal has beautiful soothing music that always relaxes me.
Bedroom: Make it an oasis! Create a quiet, serene place with dark curtains. Get soft comfy sheets and invest in a good pillow. Use a white noise machine or air purifier to muffle outside noises.
Turn off Wi-Fi in your house at night as the electromagnetic waves have been proven to possibly disrupt sleep and even your children’s growth.
Lastly, try to be mindful of what you think about and talk about during the day. We do have some control over our stress levels, by how we choose to react, and whether we fuel issues by constantly thinking and complaining or whether we choose to ‘get off the roller coaster’ and choose to trust that things will work out.
If you notice yourself complaining (as we all sometimes do) or worrying a lot, make the conscious effort to say, “I’m going to let go of worrying and trust that all is well.” Let go of complaining and replace your talk with more positive and enjoyable subjects. People will enjoy your company more and you will feel more uplifted, hopeful and relaxed. Peaceful attitudes in the day nurture more peaceful outlooks at night – which will lead you to fall and stay asleep more easily.
Affirm to yourself “I now lovingly release the day and slip into a peaceful deep sleep” …as you relax and drift off.
I wish you sweet dreams, and beautiful days.
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