Unveiling the Power of Holistic Wellness: A Path to Better Sleep

7 mins read

Presented by BetterHelp.

Wellness is an important focus for most people. The concept of holistic wellness involves taking care of the mind and body. It can include conventional modern medicine, psychotherapy, and various activities to bring calm and balance to one’s life.

The term ‘’mind, body, and spirit’’ is sometimes used to illustrate this holistic approach to health. Religious or spiritual practices can also be a part of a holistic approach to well-being.

The subject of sleep is often addressed in holistic approaches to wellness because sleep forms the foundation of many aspects of physical and mental health.

Sleep is also prominently featured in holistic health discussions because there are a variety of interventions that include supplements, medical care, and relaxation or stress-relieving tools that may contribute to a healthy and effective sleep hygiene routine.

The Reparative Functions Of Sleep

According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep affects mood, brain function, and overall health. Lack of quality sleep is linked to an increased risk of health issues like heart disease and stroke. Metabolism and degenerative brain conditions like dementia can also be affected by the quality of a person’s sleep.

Proper sleep hygiene is often a concern for people who work unconventional hours or those living stressful lives. New mothers are another group of people who may experience difficulty sleeping.

Sleep For Brain Health: Toxin Removal

Sleep is not a passive activity. During the night, the brain undergoes a series of different processes to expel toxins from the body. 

The NIH references a study funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke that studied sleep in mice. The results of the study show evidence of toxin removal during sleep. One of the researchers involved in this study concluded that ‘’[s]leep changes the cellular structure of the brain.’’ Therefore, it appears that the brain changes behavior when the body sleeps to facilitate greater wellness.

Sleep For The Immune System

Numerous studies also show a link between the immune system and sleep. A 2021 paper published in Communications Biology investigated the role of sleep deprivation in immune-related disease. Researchers outline sleep’s function in host defense against infection and inflammation.

The link between poor sleep and inflammation may relate to the increased risk of heart and neurodegenerative diseases associated with sleep deprivation. 

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Although sleep health involves quality and duration and needs change according to age, most healthy adults need 7 hours of restful sleep.

Sleep quality can be measured by the frequency you wake up during the night, the length of time it takes you to fall asleep, and how rested you feel in the morning. 

Sleep Disorders

Sometimes, sleep struggles require more help than you can manage on your own. A variety of sleep disorders exist including sleep apnea, insomnia, parasomnias, and even restless leg syndrome.

If you’re experiencing sleep disturbances and are unsure if you need professional help, the BetterHelp website has helpful and informative articles about sleep. You may find information that helps you identify when intervention becomes necessary.

Approaches To Holistic Sleep Hygiene

According to UC Davis Health, the following tips may help improve sleep quality.

  • Reduce time spent lying awake in bed by only sleeping when tired.
  • If you cannot fall asleep within 20 minutes, leave bed and engage in a relaxing activity like reading.
  • Avoid napping to improve sleep during the night. If you nap, don’t sleep more than an hour during the day.
  • Establish a sleep routine where you go to bed around the same time every night.
  • Avoid exercise during the 4 hours before you go to bed.
  • Establish sleep rituals that help prepare you for sleep. These include relaxation techniques and simple hygiene behaviors like caring for your skin and brushing your teeth.
  • Avoid relaxing in bed. This may help your body establish a connection between going to bed and sleeping.
  • Stop consuming stimulants 4-6 hours before bedtime. Caffeine and nicotine are commonly consumed stimulants, however, some prescription medications may also contain stimulants.
  • Avoid sleeping with an empty or full stomach. A rumbling stomach or a feeling of overfullness may affect sleep quality.
  • Try a hot bath or shower to raise your body temperature slightly before retiring to your bedroom. Keeping the room you sleep in under 68 degrees can help sleep quality because the body senses the drop in temperature.
  • Help facilitate a strong circadian rhythm by getting into the morning sun for 15 minutes daily.
  • Avoid blue light by putting down your devices before bed or using blue light-blocking glasses.

Other practices that may help improve sleep can include aromatherapy, meditation before bedtime, listening to soothing music, or practicing breathing techniques.

Care For Your Sleep, Care For Yourself

Sleep is an important part of your overall wellness. If you want to improve the quality of your sleep for its potential health benefits or if you are experiencing sleep disturbances, it may be time to take action.

Following the tips for good sleep hygiene and learning more about sleep disorders may help your journey for a restful night.

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