Most research works today show how much sleep is essential to our mental health (sleep is food for the brain), to our weight, but also to our physical health, especially when you are an athlete. And today, more and more are in deep need of sleep.
There is so much to say about sleep, but what is the purpose of today is its link with inflammation. If you have been reading my other articles, you are certainly aware now of how inflammation is a root to most of chronic diseases and unfortunately to your pains and aches.
As an athlete, you don’t need more pains and aches in your life.
So, some facts.
Have you ever heard of fibromyalgia?
This is a very debilitating condition that is a good illustration of how sleep deprivation work to feed pain in your body. People with fibromyalgia have such a light sleep that they never enter the deep sleep phase that nerve endings need for their regeneration.
So the irritated and inflamed nerve fibers get more and more inflamed, which induces lack of memory and focus, anxiety, depression, lack of coordination, skin issues and, of course, pain.
Actually, lack of sleep, even a few hours during one night, can lead the immune system to fight your body healthy tissues and organs, trigger a cellular circuit that feeds inflammation and damage nerve endings. This is what happens with fibromyalgia. But once pain is there, it is very difficult to get some sleep…This is the beginning of a vicious circle…
Indeed, tissue repair and growth are under the control of growth hormone, which is secreted during sleep! This is why physical recovery happens during deep, slow sleep. And this is why, lack of sleep can lead to unwanted pains, nerve degeneration, and all the diseases that even an athlete can be the victim of!
So do not take the chance.
Here is how aromatherapy can help you improve the quality of your sleep
The aromatherapy of sleep
Since we want to avoid the possible toxicity of taking sleeping pills (which are not curative anyways), we want to start avoiding what creates the lack of sleep.
Here is a list of what doesn’t help:
- Energy drinks.
- Birth control pill.
- Beta blockers and thyroid medicines.
- Late exercise.
Here is a list of what does help:
- Herb teas (to replace hot milk…) : chamomile, sage, verbena, peppermint (it is sedative).
- Exercises, but in the morning or not after 5:00 pm (too stimulating), except for Qi kong or Tai chi, any stretching is good.
- Progressive relaxation: laying down on the floor, pull on each of your limbs one after the other, and release. Contract your face and release, relax your tong, your forehead, contract and release your shoulders. Visualize your are like butter on a beach, melting under the sun…feel yourself spreading on the floor.
- Get yourself some music to induce sleep: for some it’s going to be classical (adagios), for other planning esoteric music…find yours!
- Control your blood sugar : your brain is strongly dependent on glucose to function. A drop in blood sugar is enough to stimulate adrenalin and cortisol secretion, which stimulates awakening. So to maintain a good glucose level, stay away from quick refined sugar (candies, sweets, refined/white foods, alcohol) and chose slow sugars, low glycemic index carbs.
Serotonin plays an important role in sleep as it increases deep sleep without making you sleep longer. 5-Hydrosytryptophan is a natural serotonin precursor, and clinical studies have shown how it induces and maintain sleep, even at low dose. Simply take 100 to 300 mg, 45 min before retiring.
3 grams of melatonin taken in the same time will increase your chances to fall into Morpheus’s arms!
Here are the essential oils that will help you:
I have categorized them to help you adapt each formula to your needs.
If your bad sleep comes from anxiety…
Massage your belly, around the ombilic, 3 mn, with this blend at night :
In 5 ml of base oil (1 tbs), add:
- 1 drop Ylang Ylang EO.
- 1 drop Patchouli EO.
- 1 drop Frankincense EO.
- 2 drops May chang EO.
If you feel your problem is nervous, over-excitement…find someone to massage your back with this blend:
In 5 ml base oil, add:
- 2 drops Green mandarin EO.
- 1 drop Valerian EO.
- 2 drops true Lavender EO.
and you may also massage your fore arms with this oil, several times a day if you wish to feel calmer.
If you feel you could benefit from the anti-anxiety blend as well, simply mix them together (you’ll get 10 ml of blend total) and massage your belly and your arms with it.
What to eat?
Finally, make sure what you eat is not making your blood sugar tilt on the wrong side, so this concerns especially your diner. Think complete carbs, avoid fruits, avoid cheese and red meat.
To conclude, having a proper quality sleep may involve a few adjustments in your routine or even your lifestyle, but when a pain free life is at stake, isn’t it worth it?