My sleep was exceptional in my twenties and I couldn’t imagine living with sleep issues. In my early thirties however, something changed. Falling asleep became a struggle. Waking up several times at night became a habit. And so did brain fog and physical exhaustion in the morning. I thought it was just a stress problem and everything will turn to normal.
Now I’m 36 and it didn’t. But I learned to accept it, deal with and ease it. Diet, lifestyle, hormone balance and recently essential oils – my whole life needed a new approach to obtain results. And even if I won’t get that perfect sleep back, I know I make everything I can to get the best results giving the circumstances.
The sleep trouble causes can be multiple and sometimes you can discover that you’re dealing with more than one. For me, it was a jammed sleep cycle due to late night photo editing, stress and also a hormone imbalance due to low progesterone levels and a slow thyroid. It can be any or more of these disturbed sleep causes:
1. Faulty dietary habits
Lots of strong coffees throughout the day, late dinners, late night alcohol consumption – these all disrupt your sleep and burden your liver. I limited my coffee to 1 capuccino with a single shot that I never sip after 2 pm, and if I need an extra energy boost, I rely on my Matcha Latte. Also, I try to have my dinner no later than 7 pm.
2. Hormone Imbalance
Slow thyroid, high estrogen or low progesterone, hormone imbalances are nasty to deal with and most often influence your sleep quality. I eat Selenium rich Brazil nuts to support the thyroid activity, and supplemented my diet with Magnesium, Vitamin C and Vitex Agnus Castus to balance the progesterone.
Dealing with stressful situation at work, finance issues or social isolation can prevent you from falling asleep. Working at home, without too much of a social interaction, facing tight due dates with my photography projects were a high stress for me.
I turned to a mindfully yoga practice and Pranayama (breathing technique) first thing in the morning to regain the control over my body and mind. I rented a studio and moved my photography gear into the new space, forcing my self to leave the house every day, get out of my social media universe, see new things, have my coffee surrounded by real people!
4. Sleep Environment
The mattress quality, room temperature and the amount of light are influencing factors for your sleep. My recent medical control revealed that I have back issues and I need a firm mattress, so I bought one. I also close the curtains at night, leaving just a small amount of light to program my brain to wake me up in the morning, and maintain a 68F temperature in the room.
5. Disrupted Sleep Cycle
Staying late at night at the computer, on the phone or watching TV, frequently sleeping more than 10 hours, going out at night several times a week, these all can disrupt our body sleep cycle and trick the brain into keeping you awake when you actually need to sleep.
I discovered with time that my anxiety was at its peak when I was the less productive. Solution? Stop procrastinating and get into action! The better I solve my scheduled tasks in one day, the lower my anxiety level.
Last year I did the photography for the Essential Glow book, which opened my eyes on the health benefits of essential oils and also learned there is so much more to explore besides citrus or lavender.
There are many essential oils for sleep and anxiety and with time I’ve discovered there are four that always work for me: lavender, eucalyptus, sandalwood and chamomile. It very much depends about the mood I had during the day – if I was energized lavender worked best, if I was anxious I know I’ll had to use chamomile, while for extreme emotions sandalwood worked as a balm.
If you are wondering how to use essential oils for sleep, it’s really easy! You can simply add 2-3 drops on your pillow before going to bed, and make some simple breathing exercises to help their active substances get into your blood flow through respiration, to relax your body and ease your mind.
You can also use an essential oils diffuser, which will vaporize the essences and create a relaxing environment in your bedroom.
- Lavender – if you are not into experimenting and you want to go straight to the point, lavender is the only one essential oil you will need for sleep improving. Its fragrance is balancing and calming, it helps reduce anxiety and post partum depression, and there are studies that scientifically proved it fights insomnia.
- Eucalyptus – this oil clears out the blockages in your airwaves and reduces sleep apnea, helping you breathe easily and helps your body cells to use the oxygen. If you wake up several times during the night because of your breathing issues, this essential oil is for you!
- Sandalwood – the alpha and beta-santalol are the active substances in sandalwood essential oil, with a sedative effect on the central nervous system. It also lowers the systolic blood pressure and helps your body relax and easily fall asleep.
- Roman Chamomile – is a great essence for those days you experienced anger, agitation and irritability. It is a soothing essential oil and it’s great to use it with the diffuser within at least half an hour before going to sleep, to help your mind calm down and soothe extreme emotions.