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Steps to Better Sleep

3 “masters of sleep” share their best tips and words of wisdom on successful rest.

BWB has gotten together with 3 “masters of sleep” to hear their best tips and words of wisdom on successful rest.

Accomplished and successful Dr. Penelope McDonnell specializes in prevention as a primary strategy for maintaining good health.
Between natural medicines and changing lifestyle techniques such as achieving the right amount of sleep, Dr. McDonnell aims to bring balance to every system of the body.

Here is some of the great advice that she had to give.

Tryptophan rich foods are also supportive of enabling that wonderful sleep cascade – they can be found in turkey and oily fish like sardines.

 BWB: What foods do you recommend to get a better sleep at night?

As a naturopathic physician, I am always trying to tease out the root cause of any disturbance to a good nights sleep.
After that, I suggest lifestyle habits, foods, and supplements that address that root cause.

If poor blood sugar regulation is the cause (signs of this can be restless legs, vivid dreams, feeling like you are awake even when you are sleeping) I recommend a small amount (1/4 – 1/2 cup) of nuts. The protein and nut fat temper blood sugar spikes and eases symptoms.

If stress is the issue, I recommend magnesium rich foods – nuts (again), dark greens, and Alaskan salmon (all in small quantities).
Tryptophan rich foods are also supportive of enabling that wonderful sleep cascade – they can be found in turkey and oily fish like sardines.
I used to suggest warm milk – but I find so many people are sensitive to dairy that I have stopped. If you feel great when you have milk – no burping or gas – try it.

 Studies have shown that smelling lavender actually alters brain chemistry – reducing anxiety and stress.

BWB: We get more sensitive with age with some foods that may keep us awake when we want to sleep. Any recommendations?

Yes I see this a lot – people who could drink coffee, eat chocolate (or any high sugar desert), and happily pass out at bed time find that they can’t any more. Drinking alcohol also appears to disturb sleep more and more with age. The sleep is not as deep; the dreams are more vivid. You wake more at night.

After a big sugary, alcohol filled meal, end with a few cups of chamomile tea instead of coffee. This lowly tea can really take the edge off the negative hit of foods that mar sleep.

Being aware of your individual impediments to sleep is key and avoiding having them after 4pm is a start, but sometimes that is just not possible. The key is to put things in place to help metabolize these foods as quickly as possible. First, consider dramatically increasing your exercise on the day you know you may be having a night of eating and drinking foods that usually aggravate your sleep. That can nudge your metabolism up a notch as well as increase fatigue when your head hits the pillow.

After a big sugary, alcohol filled meal, end with a few cups of chamomile tea instead of coffee. This lowly tea can really take the edge off the negative hit of foods that mar sleep.
Add in some digestive enzymes during the evening as well. A good quality enzyme can practically negate that “wired and tired” effect. I love Dipan -9 by Thorne (you can get this at Wilner Chemists or at some health food stores). If you can’t find that one, try out a local health food store brand.

Lastly, If you have time, one sure fire and supportive lifestyle addition is a before bed Epsom salt bath. Pop in 2-4 cups of lavender scented salts (most drug stores carry this) into a hot bath. You don’t have to stay in forever – 10 – 20 minutes should do it. Magnesium salts support bowel function and relax muscles to help with sleep. Your brain also finds the lavender scent calming. Studies have shown that smelling lavender actually alters brain chemistry – reducing anxiety and stress.

Founder of Yelo Spa New York (the one and only place to get a power nap), Nicolas Ronco has become an expert in the art of sleeping.
With busy schedules consuming our on-the-go lifestyles Yelo Spa helps us re-energize and prevent that burnt out feeling frequently gotten during the day.

Treat your bedroom like a temple of sleep and well-being

BWB: What advice can you give us to sleep better at night when we live in big cities.

Make sure your bedroom is as silent and light proof as possible.  Noise will lighten up your sleep even if you are not aware of it and prevent you from going into the cell repairing deep sleep.  Light will decrease your melatonin level and wake you up earlier than you wish.
Have a “pre-going to sleep” ritual: hot bath, aromatherapy spray on your bedding, read a boring book, make love.
Remove clutter from your bedroom as well as electronic equipment such as computers, phones, tablets, TV etc.  They emit electromagnetic radiations as well as light that will disrupt your sleep.
Do not argue, fight nor eat in your bedroom.  Meditation is encouraged on the other hand.
Treat your bedroom like a temple of sleep and well-being.

BWB: What at the ‘Yelo Benefits’

Napping allows you to :
– catch up on missed sleep at night
– speed up problem solving
– help with prevention of burn out, anxiety and depression
– reduce risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks
– improve skin condition

Shelley Lewis, founder of Sacred Space NY, has created a lifestyle brand that promotes health, healing and beauty from within, with classes of yoga and meditation.
Here are a few words of wisdom that she had to share.

“Meditation is proven to decrease anxiety by 39%; meditating before you go to sleep will help induce a more restful nights sleep.
Try five to ten minutes of deep harmonic breathing and dab lavender oil on your lobes to help you relax.
This mini evening ritual of creating sacred space for yourself at home before you sleep will help you drift into sleep with more ease. If repeated over time , you will see consistent improvements in your sleep patterns.  ”

“Success isn’t about just working harder, its about cultivating freedom in your heart and life, and truly being the change. As the gateway of silence opens us up to stillness, we set the stage for our best self to step forward.”

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