Lying in bed watching the clock, wondering if this will be another night of tossing and turning? Perhaps these days you just can’t shut your mind off and get a good night’s sleep – thinking about your relationship issues, your stressful job and that never ending to-do list. As you get older and with more on your mind, doesn’t it seem like restful sleep seems harder to attain? Although sleep meds may sound promising, you know that they can lead to dependency and daytime fatigue – something you obviously don’t want. So, let me share with you some tips to help your mind and body recover and re-charge in today’s fast paced world.
It truly amazes me how many people I know who are functioning on less than 5 hours of sleep. Take 2 hours of sleep away from me and I’ll show you cranky and unproductive. Sleep is much like the gas that you put in your car and with higher demands at home and at work, you need to make sure that you stop to fill up regularly. When you are sleep deprived, your body and your brain simply cannot operate at their full capacity. The most concerning aspect is that long term sleep issues can lead to anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), depression, and cardiovascular disease.
Below, I have provided you with some simple recommendations for better sleep.
(1) Have your stimulants (caffeine and sugar) before 12pm and get to bed before 12am. This may be too difficult to implement on the weekends, but what about during the week? At the very least, try it Sunday thru Thursday.
(2) Before turning in, write down your “to do” list. This will allow your mind to let go of things you must do the next day. If you go to bed feeling anxious about what you have ahead of you, you will likely have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep.
(3) Hot baths rock! I love them. They are calming and help release stress. Drop some Epsom salts into your bath and rub essential oils like lavender or chamomile around your temples and between your eyebrows.
(4) Avoid using your iPod, TV, computer and cell phone within one hour of retiring. Yes, that’s right. This will help your body unwind. The bedroom is to be used for rest, relaxation, sleep and sex! Simply put, keep the electronics out of the bedroom and don’t use them right before bed, unless you are playing meditation music.
(5) Make sure the room that you are sleeping in is dark to enable your body to produce an important hormone called melatonin, which regulates the sleep cycle. Avoid taking melatonin in supplement form for long periods of time. You want your body to naturally make this hormone on its own as melatonin is your body’s way of communicating to you that it is time to shut down and sleep.
One of the questions on the patient intake form at my clinic is “Do you feel well-rested in the mornings?” Ask yourself this question and if the answer is no, it is time to evaluate the reasons why. A qualified Naturopath can help you. They will likely recommend a series of acupuncture treatments along with natural sleep medications after assessing your individual case. Remember that sleep is time for your body to recover, repair and rejuvenate, and every bodily function is dependent on it. If better health and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease haven’t convinced you, how about better skin, weight loss and better sex! That’s right. With 8 hours of peaceful sleep, you’re more likely to drop inches, age gracefully and enjoy sex more frequently. Still need more reasons? I didn’t think so.