Updated: Jan 28, 2019
“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
Modern living can be stressful and if you are like many, you may be experiencing a decline in your quality and quantity of sleep. Unfortunately it's a slippery slope. The stress your body endures trying to function optimally with depleted physical energetic resources (sleep) leads to a ripple effect of stress in your emotional, mental and spiritual bodies and very quickly this turns into a downward spiral of exhaustion, adrenal fatigue and depression.
Adequate sleep is crucial to fuel proper brain function; no less so than air, water, and food. So, it's vitally important that you invest time to focus on prioritizing and maintaining healthy sleep hygiene.
Any amount of sleep deprivation will diminish your mental performance. You can probably think of numerous occasions when you have had to force yourself to endure through the morning after, the night before. In fact, going without a good night’s sleep may have become so normal to you, that you may overlook the enormous contribution sleep may have on your health and the wellbeing of those around you.
Mark Mahowald, a professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, cautions. "One complete night of sleep deprivation is as impairing in simulated driving tests as a legally intoxicating blood-alcohol level."
Sleep deprivation induces such significant reductions in performance and alertness that reducing your night time sleep by as little as one and a half hours, for just one night could result in a reduction of daytime alertness by as much as 32%.
In the long term, the clinical consequences of sleep deprivation are associated with numerous illnesses. If you regularly do not get enough sleep, you can become less sensitive to insulin, which increases your risk for diabetes and high blood pressure; both serious threats to your brain. 
Dr. Van Cauter, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, found that "metabolic and endocrine changes resulting from a significant sleep debt mimic many of the hallmarks of aging. We suspect that chronic sleep loss may not only hasten the onset but could also increase the severity of age-related ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and memory loss.”
Additional research found that "insomniacs with the highest degree of sleep disturbance secreted the highest amount of cortisol, particularly in the evening and nighttime hours," suggesting that chronic insomnia is a disorder of sustained hyper arousal of the body's stress response system.
By making changes to improve your sleep habits you will be supporting your ability to enhance your cognitive function and emotional regulation. You’ll find it easier to learn new skills, solve problems and make decisions as well as control your emotions and behavior. You’ll find your mood will be elevated and more consistent. You’ll have more tolerance and energy to commit to the things you value in your life, such as taking the kids to baseball practice or spending quality time together, as a family. You’ll also find you become more resilient, better able to cope with change and those challenges that life likes to bring your way.
Creating a Good Sleep Routine
When you address the habits and patterns, which contribute to your quality of sleep you will allow yourself the opportunity to find a long term solution to sustaining this vital aspect of your health. Try incorporating some of the below into your lifestyle. Sometimes, all it takes is one small step to make a huge difference.
Here are some ideas that might help you to create a good sleep routine.
If you currently sleep less than seven hours a night, commit to going to bed 10 minutes earlier. Keep adding to this until you have increased your time to at least 8 hours a night
Make a habit of going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day (even weekends!) Learn to plan around the bed time you set yourself
Sleep in a cool, dark environment
Read a relaxing book rather than watching a movie before sleep
Turn off your phone/computer/iPad etc at least 1 hour before bed. This will allow for reduced stimulation and the artificial light can suppress the release of melatonin, a sleep producing hormone
Take time in the evening to journal, practice your breathing, meditate, or pray as this can help prevent the events of the day taking center stage in your head at night time
Be intentional. Visualize what you wish to dream about
Have your last cup of coffee (or any caffeine) eight hours before bedtime. Try some of our relaxing tea, instead
Try using an iPhone/iPad app designed to assist sleep. Using headphones, the binaural beats and ambient noise will help entrain your brainwaves to a more relaxed state. (You’ll find many free apps on the market and you can experiment to find the one you like best. However, we highly recommend Relax Melodies by Ipnos Software)
Practice some gentle yoga in the evening to help your body wind down and to flush the stress hormones out
Use some essential oils to help calm your nervous system down (take a look at our Sleep Roller or Calming Mist)
Give yourself time to see the changes. While you may find it hard to get to sleep at your new time to begin with, your body will soon get the message and make the adjustment. Think of this as a process of recovering from past destructive habits and reconditioning new beneficial ones.
Free ITunes App ~ Relax Melodies: Sleep & Yoga by Ipnos Software ~ www.ipnossoft.com
The American Sleep Association ~ www.sleepassociation.org
 Eve Van Cauter, Ph.D, Annual Meeting of the American Diabetes Association, June 2001.
 Spectrum, March-April 1998
 Health Psychology 1997 July;16(4):390-400