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      Monique Blake, WellBEing Ambassador, Educator and Coach –
      FSA Education Advocate

      “I look forward to sharing lots of effective natural tips to help you create a healthy holistic lifestyle. Sleep matters to our health and longevity. One of life’s most frustrating feelings is not getting restorative sleep. Trust me, I know. I was an insomniac for over 30 years but now I sleep like a baby. If you have problems falling asleep, staying asleep or if you are not getting up feeling rested and ready to leap tall buildings, then follow these tips and sleep restfully tonight. Sweet dreams!”

      Create a bedtime ritual We often hit the sack without coming down from our mentally, physically and emotionally active or stressed day. Going from 10-0 takes careful planning and consistent practice. Here are some ways to create a bedtime ritual.

      1 Set a bedtime and set your bedtime alarm. It is a healthy practice to have a regular bedtime but it is even better practice to prepare for sleep. I set my bedtime alarm on my Smart phone and when it sounds, I know that I have an hour to get ready for bed. Here are some ideas of what to do in that critical hour before bedtime.

      2-3 Unplug and Unwind. Unplug from electronic devices like the computer, the TV, the phone. Unplug from books, magazines, games. It doesn’t matter if you are using them for work or checking your social media or texting. They keep your mind active, alert and awake. Unwind by practicing meditation. Check out Omvana* or your favorite meditation app for free guided meditations for all levels. Unwind by scheduling a regular massage or massage your feet with warm essential oil infused blend. Unwind by practicing yoga nidra (yoga for sleep). Visit Yoga Anytime* for online yoga nidra classes.

      4 Water Works. Warm to neutral temperature water helps to relax the body. Take a warm bath or shower. If you prefer to shower in the morning, then try a warm foot bath at night. The feet are reflex points for the cranium so soaking your feet literally decongests the head and the mind.

      Bedrom Doudoir-ification Yes, I made up that word. The boudoirification of our bedroom sets the stage for sound sleep. The ambience for sweet slumber includes everything from a comfortable temperature, to the absences of light and sound distractions, and even includes the colors on your wall. Here are some ideas for making your bedroom a place for blissful repose.

      5 Declutter your bedroom. Find a professional organizer or a Feng Shui practitioner to help you clear out unnecessary, unused or broken ‘stuff.’ Most importantly, though keep in mind that your bedroom is NOT a bedroom/office/entertainment center/gym. Remove everything that creates activity i.e. the desk, the TV, or the treadmill.

      6 Repurpose your bed. Return your bed to its original purpose. A bed is for sleep and sex. You are certainly not limited to having sex only in your bed BUT it is the only other activity that should be taking place there. In other words, lounge in the living room, read in the recreation room, watch TV in the family room, eat in the dining room….and save your bed for shut eye.

      7 Change your sheets. Did I just hear you say, “What? No way!” Well, actually according to a National Sleep Foundation (NSF)* study, the answer to a good night’s sleep can be as simple as a clean comfy bed. Make sure that you have a comfortable mattress, make your bed every day

      8 Use essential oils. Aromatherapy is a powerful tool in your bedtime ritual. Lavender essential oil* is great for many health concerns including insomnia. Put 8-10 drops in your bath before stepping in. Place 1-2 drops in each corner of your shower before turning on the water. Put a 3-4 drops on your pillowcase. Or simply place 1-2 drops in your palm and inhale.

      Nighttime Nutrition. Eating close to bedtime can hamper the quality of your sleep.

      Ideally, it is best to have your last meal 4 hours before hitting the hay. Going to bed hungry is not helpful either.

      9 Try a herbal nightcap. Drink a cup of herbal (non-caffeinated) tea. Brew your own batch of Lemon Balm Lavender Sleepy Time Tea* If you prefer pre-mixed herbs, then try one of my favorite Mountain Rose blends, Fidnemed Nighttime Tea.*

      If making a herbal nightcap is not for you, then a try natural supplement. There are many herbs to promote a peaceful night’s sleep. One of my favorites is the Ayurveda herbal blend, I Sleep Soundly* The name says it all.

      10 Eat protein. An empty stomach can disturb your beauty sleep. If you need to eat, follow this tip: Eat protein instead of carbs. Try a handful of nuts, particularly almonds or hazelnuts or a hard boiled egg. Avoid cold, sugary drinks, snacks, sweet pastries or cakes.

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