I have been interested in the healing power of sleep for a long time. One of the first assignments I can remember doing for my Introduction to Naturopathy course was actually all about sleep.
I love to sleep and I rarely have problems in this area but on those few occasions where I find myself staring at the ceiling I am lucky that I have all this knowledge stored away in my brain to help undo the dreaded insomnia. I like to share my sleep knowledge as much as I can and my clients often leave the clinic with handouts explaining the importance of good quality sleep and how they can improve their sleep which in turn improves their health. Now I am spreading the love further and sharing some of my sleep tips with you :)
Insomnia, tossing and turning, watching the minutes tick by on the clock, thinking the same thoughts over and over, waking up every hour, nightmares, sleep talking, sleep walking, sleep eating, I'm exhausted just thinking about it all! If you wake up feeling tired and frustrated because you just can't get the good quality sleep that you used to, then read on and please put some of my tips into practice.
1. Good sleep hygiene is essential!
Do you like your bedroom? Is it pretty and peaceful and relaxing? If your bedroom is cluttered and dirty and ugly you're probably not going to enjoy being in it. So the first step in your sleep transformation is to create a sleep environment that you love. Get rid of any clutter in the bedroom and under the bed.
2. Use soft lamps
Instead of bright lights as a dark environment is essential for melatonin production which is the hormone that regulates your sleep/wake cycles.
You can't realistically expect to come home from a crazy day at the office, scoff down your dinner, go for a run, watch the news and then fall into a peaceful slumber.
3. Eat your dinner at least 2 hours before you go to bed.
This gives your body time to digest your food before you go to sleep. If you're still trying to break down your dinner when you go to bed your body can't focus on rest and repair and you probably won't have a very sound sleep.
4. Try to exercise in the morning.
Some people find that exercising at night amps them up too much but exercising in the morning helps to give you energy to get through the day.
5. Take time to wind down before bed.
Watching the news and reading the paper are likely to stimulate your mind too much to be able to have a restful sleep so are best avoided in the evening. This rule also applies to work. If you must bring work home from the office, finish up one hour before bed time so that you can release all of the work clutter from your brain before you retire.
6. Try to spend the hour before bed relaxing.
Dim the lights, have a bath, meditate, do yoga, listen to calming music, write your journal (to get rid of those circling thoughts), and remember to breath deeply.
7. Go to bed at 10pm
or as close to 10pm as possible (this advice is for people who go to bed late. If you already go to bed at 9 or 9.30pm and have a great sleep, please continue!).
Studies have shown that the optimum sleep/wake times are sleep at 10pm, wake at 6am. Getting up early often allows you time to do your morning exercise, have a good breakfast and generally be more productive. Going to bed at 10pm allows your body enough time to get into the deep stages of sleep and repair and restore your body effectively. Did you know that your adrenal glad does its repair between 11pm and 1am? If you aren't deeply asleep between these hours your adrenal glad never gets a chance to restore itself which can lead to fatigue, anxiety and burn out.
Naturopathy for Insomnia
Naturopathic medicine such as herbal medicines, vitamins and minerals can help. These are best prescribed by your practitioner as there isn't one herb or nutrient that is guaranteed to be the answer so a trained naturopath is needed to determine what will work best for you. You may require magnesium to help relax your nervous system and muscles. Maybe you need a vitamin B complex in the day time or herbs for stress and anxiety. There is even a bach flower remedy specifically for 'unresolved circling thoughts' which I often put in my sleep mixes to help switch the worry off at night.
8. Drink herbal teas
to help relax your nervous system and induce a restful sleep. These may include Lavender, Passionflower, Chamomile and Lemon Balm. Try my TeaStress blend or Rest and Digest Blend, enjoy half an hour before bed.
Sleep is very important for mental and physical health. If you can get yourself into a healthy sleep routine you will feel more energetic, you will get sick less often and your days will be more productive.
Happy sleeping :)