Sleep issues have become so common these days. We’ve become to used to being sleep deprived, it’s our “new normal” and it really shouldn’t be.
There are so many reasons for running on too little sleep.
- Children waking during the night
- Stress … about work, finances, ill loved one
- Bathroom breaks
- Staying up too late on electronics, playing video games, watching TV
- Shift work
- Sleep apnea
- Adrenal fatigue (cortisol being high at night and melatonin too high during day which is reverse of what they should be)
- Chronic illness and/or pain
- Hormone imbalance
- Thyroid disease (hyperthyroidism)
- Breathing problems (asthma, COPD, bronchitis)
- Prescription Medications
- Alcohol, caffeine or other stimulants
- Poor diet – blood sugar fluctuations
- Eating too close to bed or not eating enough at dinner or evening
- Mental health disorders such as:
- General anxiety
- Bipolar disorder
- Neurological disorders such as:
You may have become so used to running on 5-6 hours sleep, or worse a broken sleep, you may have tried various natural remedies and even some prescriptions, but to no avail. You might think there’s no hope. I encourage you to re-think that.
Some of the main benefits to getting a good night’s sleep include:
- Fights illness
- Strengthens immune system
- Repairs damaged tissue
- Hormone balance
- Cognitive health
As you can see, your health depends on getting regular, consistent sleep.
Lack of sleep can:
- Disrupt brain function
- Reduce attention span
- Reduce willpower
- Encourage poor moods
- Disrupt ghrelin and leptin levels (they control appetite and cravings). I’ll discuss them in a future article.
- Holy Basil
- Bach Flower’s Sleep Remedy
- Fish Oil
- increases relaxation
- decreases anxiety
- decreases inflammation
- Vitamin D
- B complex
- Passion Flower
- Chamomile Tea
If you have trouble falling sleep, the following lifestyle changes may help:
- Manage stress
- Journaling – do it morning or evening, just do it consistently
- Yoga – even 10 minutes a day of gentle yoga helps to calm the body and mind
- Meditation – 10 minutes before bed
- Take adrenal support (Holy Basil, Ashwaganda, Rhodiola are some of the best adaptogens to help you with adrenal support)
- Hot soak – add Epsom salts and lavender oil, a bottle of water, soft music and chamomile tea
- Deep breathing (Inhale through nose for 4, hold for 4, exhale through mouth for 4 and hold for 4. Repeat). It’s amazing how shallowly we breathe. The extra oxygen you take in will help to calm you.
- Avoid blue light before bed
- If you want to read, read a paper book or change the settings on your tablet or reader
- Increase exposure to natural sunlight as much as possible during the day
- Get out for a walk – even 10 minutes several times a day helps immensely.
- Forego the sunscreen if you can for shorter periods … it helps boost your vitamin D levels naturally.
- Sit outside during your lunch hour.
- Work near a window if you can.
- Exercise regularly during the earlier part of the day.
- Cardio work – walking, running, cycling
- Weight training
- Body weight exercises
- Plenty of fresh vegetables
- Some fruit but not too much and mostly eaten during the first part of the day.
- Unrefined carbohydrates such as quinoa (also a complete protein), sweet potatoes, brown rice
- Moderate amount of good quality, hormone and antibiotic free beef, chicken, pork and eggs
- Refined sugar (unpasteurized honey, pure maple syrup and stevia are best sweeteners)
- Processed foods
- Alcohol (sometimes one glass of red wine is fine with dinner)
- Caffeine after 2 pm
- Bedtime “routine”
- Read a physical book for 30 minutes
- Have some sort of sexual encounter (doesn’t need to be intercourse, can even just be cuddling for a while). If you’re single, even just touching yourself releases endorphins.
- Put your clothes out for the next morning.
- Make of list of things you need to do the next day then don’t think about it. It’s written down, you won’t forget.
Just a friendly reminder as well that your bedroom is your sanctuary. This is especially important for parents. Children should not be in your bedroom if you can help it (when they’re little, this may not apply but once they’re sleeping through the night, the bedroom becomes the parents’ domain again). It doesn’t have to be fancy, but keep it clean and tidy and don’t work on anything other than each other in the bedroom. That means no computer, no work and no projects. Keep your room quiet and dark if possible. I also highly encourage a Himalyan salt lamp although you might have to turn it off at night. Black out drapes and even a sleep mask can help.
If you need help with any of the above, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have an awesome week and sleep well J
Sandy O’Shea, CNP