Today, we’re going to talk about something that is absolutely vital to your overall health — sleep!

Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t just mean eating nutritional foods and being active — it also means getting the rest that you and your body need.

Sleep is vital to maintaining health, but it can be elusive to many of us. Tossing and turning throughout the night will not only leave you exhausted during the day, but you’ll also be less productive.

Not getting enough restful sleep can seriously affect your skin, too. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to feel stress, which can cause a cortisol release in your body, which causes you to gain weight. Lack of sleep can leave you with dark circles under your eyes, a sallow skin tone, and can even cause you to break out.

I’ve had a difficult time getting into the sleep cycle that works for my body, but now that I’m getting more restful sleep each night, I’ve never felt better. Here’s a few tried-and-true tricks to help you get a better night’s sleep — starting tonight!

Stop Caffeine Consumption After Lunch

This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people have late-afternoon cups of coffee, and then can’t manage to fall asleep each night. Caffeine affects everybody differently, but for most people, it takes at least 8 hours for the effect to wear off. If you find yourself tossing and turning each night, avoid coffee, caffeinated tea and soda after lunch.

Switch to Herbal Teas Before Bed

Non-caffeinated herbal teas are a great choice to have in the hours before you go to sleep. Not only can it sooth you and help you unwind after the day, but it can also stop post-dinner snack cravings. My favorite choices are chamomile, Kava and Valerian Root teas.

Try Meditation

If you have trouble winding down your brain after a busy day, try 10 minutes of meditation before you go to sleep. Take the time to let go of everything that you had to deal with during the day and everything that’s on your to-do list tomorrow. If you allow yourself mental rest, you’ll have an easier time allowing yourself physical rest.

Pick Up a Sleep Mask

Sleep masks aren’t just for divas and movie stars anymore! By blocking out light, sleep masks can get you into a much deeper sleep. Those who use sleep masks also find that they don’t wake up before their alarm at the first sign of light each morning. Although sleep masks can take some getting used to, it’s worth a try if you’re light sensitive.

Foods To Avoid Before Bed

Obviously, caffeine is at the top of everyone’s list of what to avoid before bed. But other foods that you may not have thought about make the list too, including:

Ice Cream: Not only is ice cream loaded with fat and calories (not a good choice before bed, since you won’t be able to burn them off), but it’s also high in sugar. Foods that have a high sugar content have been known to cause nightmares… not something that’s conducive to a restful night’s sleep.

Garlic: Garlic, along with spicy foods, is best avoided in the hours before bedtime. It’s known to cause heartburn, which keeps many people up at night, and can also easily upset the stomach.

Alcohol: A lot of people think that having a glass of wine or beer before bed will help get them to sleep. The opposite is actually true. Alcohol interferes with the restorative functions of sleep, which means that you’re sleeping on a much more shallow level. After a few drinks, you’re more prone to wake up frequently throughout the night, leading to tiredness in the morning.

Dark Chocolate: I love a good piece of dark chocolate, but I’ve learned to avoid it before bed. You may not think about it, but dark chocolate actually contains a high amount of caffeine. Even a small amount can keep you tossing and turning all night long.

Thank so much for joining me again today!

P.S. Don’t miss tomorrow, when I give you a few of my favorite holistic skin cures.