SEX AND THE BEST SLEEP EVER | MODERN MUZE INTERVIEW WITH SLEEP EXPERT CHRISTINA RIBEL
Christina Ribel, Sleep Expert and Founder of The Sleep Plan, is our Modern Muze "sleep guru" and we can't wait to share her sleeping words of wisdom with you. We have personally reached out to her for solutions on issues such as, "how do I actually get a good night of sleep at the beginning of a new relationship", to "I am up-all-night-tossing-and-turning, help me sleep, please". Today, we dig into Christina's sleeping genius to share with you her tips on everything from tea to sex and the best sleep ever. Read her interview below!
MODERN MUZE: First of all, how did you become a Sleep Expert?
CHRISTINA: I always knew that it was my destiny to help people and spread love, but obviously it took me a while to figure out that sleep was the right path for me. Happiness, wellbeing, and health have many aspects to consider, but I gradually realized that sleep is one of the most powerful health-tools at our disposal as human beings. When you sleep better, you wake up better, and when you wake up better - you feel so much better both physically and mentally. It’s sort of a secret weapon we have, and if we focus on our sleep - the effects on all aspects of our lives can be truly profound.
During my journey, I worked as a sleep advisor for the most exclusive mattress company in the world, but I realized that I wanted to have a more personal and spiritual relationship with clients, where I could take all aspects of sleep into consideration in my advice. Now, as I tailor personal sleep plans to my clients’ individual needs, I get to be part of making a huge difference in someone's life. it is really giving them their life back.
MODERN MUZE: What are some tips to set the "scene" for amazing sleep?
CHRISTINA: Focus on Tea, Pillows, and Bedroom.
- TEA. These are three of my favorite calming tea tips: Chamomile, which I call The Almighty Tea, is an all-round amazing tea that has so many health benefits. It calms your body and can help with insomnia, it’s great for digestion, it can help boost your immune system and reduce stress. Lavender tea, which I call The Calming Tea is a more spiritual tea that relies heavily on its relaxing and calming aroma. I find it great for relaxation and it has a calming effect on nerves. Last but not least, I love what I call The Sleepy Tea. This takes a little bit more work, but it’s not difficult to make, and it has amazing sleep improving qualities (banana tea contains tryptophan, serotonin, and dopamine, which all help in treating sleep disorders like insomnia). To make The Sleepy Tea, cut a banana in four pieces and pour hot water over. Let soak overnight in the refrigerator, and then remove the bananas. Keep the water in an airtight container in the fridge, and heat as needed.
- PILLOWS. When you look for sleep products, focus on finding breathable, natural materials with high thread count. What type, style, or thickness of pillow is right for you is very individual, and a lot of it has to do with your sleep position. Stomach sleepers should go with a thinner version, back sleepers should stick with a medium thickness, and side sleepers can go with something that is either medium thick or a thicker version. Keep in mind that your pillow, together with your mattress, should support you and keep your head, neck, and spine in a straight line. The goal is to have your head and neck aligned, so there is constant support when you sleep. This way your neck is not tilting in any direction. If you get the right support, your body will rest better, and you will be on your way to better health.
- BEDROOM. Evaluate your sleep area and design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 60-70F - and dark, and it should ideally also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Check your room for noise or other distractions. This includes a bed partner’s sleep disruptions such as snoring. Consider using blackout curtains, eyeshades, earplugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans, and other devices to address any problems with your sleep environment. Sleep on an appropriate mattress and carefully select other sleep products. Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses, but can be less for foam and other less supportive mattresses. Make the room attractive and inviting for sleep but also free of allergens that might affect you, and remove objects that might cause you to slip or fall if you have to get up during the night. Keep your bedroom your sanctuary, a wonderful space. Your peaceful place. Bedrooms should be used only for sex, relaxation, meditation, calm, and sleep. Not for work.
MODERN MUZE: How does mindset affect sleep?
CHRISTINA: What you feel is often how you sleep. If you feel calm and your thoughts are not racing, you feel more relaxed and will have an easier time falling asleep. But if you’re stressed, on your phone, rushing to bed straight from work - your body and mind will be in conflict with each other, and that will inevitably lead to poor sleep quality. Remember that it is a commitment to sleep well. But, it’s a commitment to helping the most important person you know, and if you have a plan that you follow - you will be able to quickly see tremendous progress.
MODERN MUZE: Let's get down to it and talk about sex and relationships and sleep. If you and your partner have different sleeping patterns, is it better to sleep together or separate?
CHRISTINA: As a sleep planner, I meet people who sleep in the same bed, but also many that sleep in separate beds or even separate rooms. Not because they don’t love each other, but because of various reasons it is the only way for them to achieve good sleep quality. I then work with these couples to develop and implement a plan that takes the different individual sleep patterns, schedules and goals into account. And once implemented, these couples typically “move back” to the same bed
MODERN MUZE: Any tactics couples can use to sleep better with one another?
CHRISTINA: This may sound silly, but in a couple - cuddles are an amazing tool for better sleep. I for one love to cuddle and it makes me calm and relaxed, but even “non-natural-cuddlers” can find great help in the practice. Research has shown that sleeping close and cuddling increases your oxytocin (which is also called the love hormone) This helps you feel calmer and lower the stress level and your body feels safe and secure. And if you need your own space in the bed to be able to sleep - don’t worry. You don’t need to cuddle through the night, just a few minutes of intimacy before going to sleep is a powerful way to relax and unwind your body and mind.
MODERN MUZE: How can sex lead to "the best sleep ever"?
CHRISTINA: People’s sex drives are obviously very individual, but just like with cuddles, sex is a very good way to improve your sleeping pattern. Having sex boosts oxytocin, and at the same time, it also lowers a stress-related hormone called cortisol. And for women, there's even a bonus included! Sex boosts your estrogen levels and enhances your rem sleep, where you get that deeper, uninterrupted sleep you need. If the sex leads to orgasm, you can even add another bonus - it makes you feel relaxed and more sleepy. For the men out there, do not worry - you will sleep better after sex as well.
MODERN MUZE: We have to ask, as the sleep expert, what is your bedtime routine?
CHRISTINA: I have been creating a few new routines for myself during this stay at home period. Since I already know how many hours I need to feel rejuvenated, I have made sure to stick to getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night. And since I wake up between 6-7 am, I need to ensure I get to bed around 11 pm to optimize my hours.
At 9 pm, I usually get a little snack, it can be a small bowl of natural lightly salted popcorn with no butter or sugar, a piece of dark 70% chocolate, a handful of blueberries, a cup of decaf coffee with oat milk.
At 10 pm I usually start getting ready for bed. This is 1 hour before my bedtime, which is about the time the body and mind need to unwind and relax. I enjoy a cup of chamomile or lavender tea. Sometimes with a drizzle of honey and sometimes with a stick of cinnamon. I reflect on the day, what has happened, and what I have to do tomorrow. I make a to-do list if I have not already done that earlier.
At 10.20 pm I do my bathroom routines, sometimes I take a bath or shower especially if I have been active and outdoors all day, or I have my period. It calms me down and soothes the body.
At 10.40 pm I am in bed, I leave my phone off for the night. Then I start to ease into sleep by doing some light stretching exercises to loosen my body. I then settle into my mattress by twisting my shoulders and hips as if I was going to make a hole in the sand on the beach. I breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth for a couple of minutes and let the thoughts go. I send a good thought to everyone I know (these days I found myself sending good energy to everyone out there since we are in this weirdness of a world together) and then send them all love in my thoughts.
I usually dream of my family and good lovely moments, often I am out in nature, I think being so much indoors these days makes me realize what really matters in life. We humans, nature and us all together as equals and good health and peaceful moments matters...and good sleep of course. Without sleep, we can not be who we are meant to be, the best version of ourselves. I truly believe that sleep can make you a happier, healthier, and better person.
MODERN MUZE: We are really into dreaming and their meaning, for people who don’t remember their dreams, is there any way they can sleep to find away?
CHRISTINA: We all dream, some believe that we can dream 4-6 times every night, but as you mention, many do not recall their dreams. And a big reason for that is that their sleep quality is disturbed. The dreams you mostly recall happen during REM sleep, which is the time you get the deepest sleep - and the most vivid dreams. So for anyone who wants to remember more of their dreams, creating bedtime routines and a strong consistent sleep plan can be very helpful.
MODERN MUZE: We all need you! How do we contact you for a consultation and customized sleep plan?