A good night's sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet.
Sleep quality and quantity has declined over the past few decades, our sedentary lifestyle may well be a factor. Sleep helps your body and brain function properly
Regular poor sleep has immediate negative effects on brain function, your hormones, exercise and performance. Add to that it can also increase risk of weight gain in both children and adults.
When you have good sleep this can help you eat well, exercise better and be healthier. What’s more getting sufficient sleep has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
While sleep medications may be helpful in dealing with insomnia and other sleep disorders in the short term, they are not generally recommended for long-term use. Sleep medications can be physically and psychologically addictive and come with some serious potential side effects and health risks.
Here are some proven all natural tips and treatments to help you sleep better…
ACUPUNCTURE - Multiple studies have shown acupuncture to be an effective treatment for insomnia. Acupuncture lessens anxiety, stimulates melatonin production and induces sleep onset, and can reduce sleep disruption and arousal during the night. All these effects amount to an overall increase in total sleep time.
Not only does acupuncture help with better sleep but also can address those symptoms that are keeping you up at night and get to the root of why those symptoms are occurring in the first place. Traditional acupuncture utilizes tiny needles to access distinct points on the body to restore balance, alleviate pain, stress and anxiety, enhance sleep, and improve overall well-being. When systemic balance is restored, symptoms disappear and greater overall health is achieved. After one session, regardless of what you are being treated for, many notice better sleep that same night, reduced stress, and a feeling of calm and well-being.
REFLEXOLOGY - There is a specific point on the base of the foot called the insomnia point. Usually in a person who is having problems sleeping this point is sore when pressed, it is one of the best points to massage to help induce sleep. There are nearly 15,000 nerves in your feet alone which is why foot reflexology is calming and effective.
While it’s not a scientifically proven medical treatment for insomnia or other sleep issues, it can be a helpful complementary treatment.
LOOK AT YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE - Don’t consume caffeine late in the day. Caffeine found in coffee, tea and energy drinks stimulate the nervous system and stop your body from naturally shutting down at sleep time. Caffeine can stay elevated in the blood for 6-8 hours so 3-4pm is a good cut-off.
GET MORE NATURAL LIGHT - Your body has a natural time-keeping clock known as your circadian rhythm.
It affects your brain, body and hormones, helping you stay awake and telling your body when it's time to sleep.
Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration.
In people with insomnia, daytime bright light exposure improved sleep quality and duration. It also reduced the time it took to fall asleep by 83%
Avoid over exposure to Blue Light in the evening time - Blue light (which electronic devices like smartphones and computers emit in large amounts), impacts on your circadian rhythm, tricking your brain into thinking it is still daytime. This reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get deep sleep.
MELATONIN is the hormone that helps send us to sleep each night. It tells our bodies “Okay, you can rest now” and in the morning it regulates what time we wake up. Melatonin is regulated by the sun, so it is vital we try and get 15 mins of sunlight in the morning each day as this will help melatonin levels work properly. Foods such as : Bananas, Oats, Pineapples, Oranges, Tomatoes and my favorite Cherries all help melatonin production.
BEDTIME ROUTINE - During the week try and establish a regular bedtime and wake up time, our bodies work well with routine.
Create a healthy sleeping environment. Dust and clutter free, with clean bedding. Invest in a good quality mattress and pillows. If you suffer with night sweats use 100% cotton bedding.
Stuffy bedrooms play havoc with sleep, so make sure your bedroom temperature is not above 20 degrees celsius and air quality is good. Plants such as aloe vera and peace lillies create oxygen rich air.
Avoid looking at your phone just before bed, if you use it as your alarm, leave on aeroplane mode. Be firm with yourself not to go online in the night as the light on the screen can instantly wake up your brain.
EXERCISE Exercise can be an important contributor to your sleep health. Overall, people tend to sleep better when their lifestyle includes some physical activity.
AVOID ALCOHOL as a way to help you sleep. There is a common misconception that alcohol helps you sleep. Quite the opposite. The quality of sleep that comes from a heavy night of drinking has a very detrimental effect on our bodies, our organs and our sleep. Whilst people can literally pass out from alcohol most will wake through the night or the morning feeling a lot worse for wear.
Avoid alcohol before bed, as it can reduce nighttime melatonin production and lead to disrupted sleep patterns.
MAGNESIUM is a mineral involved in hundreds of processes in the human body, and is important for brain function and heart health.
In addition, magnesium may help quiet the mind and body, making it easier to fall asleep.
Studies show that magnesium’s relaxing effect may be partly due to its ability to regulate the production of melatonin, a hormone that guides your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
In the elderly, magnesium intake tends to be low, intestinal absorption is frequently diminished, and urinary output is often enhanced. Talk to your GP, especially if your sleep is poor, you suffer from muscle aches and pains at night, or taking multiple medications. Whilst magnesium deficiency is uncommon low magnesium levels are. As our bodies store half our magnesium in bone and soft tissue it's hard to get a definitive test result. In Ireland many people suffer with low Vitamin D levels, vitamin D and magnesium depend on each other for absorption and function.
Foods such as nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, beans, salmon and bananas are just some of the foods that contain magnesium. Magnesium supplements, and sprays are available talk to a health care provider for the right one for you.
Epsom Salts are also a quick way of absorbing magnesium into the body. These can be added into the bath or foot bath for those that don't have one.
LAVENDER OIL - several studies show that simply smelling lavender oil for 30 minutes before sleep may be enough to improve the quality of sleep.
This effect appears particularly strong in those suffering from mild insomnia, especially females and young individuals.
L-THEANINE - With its ability to increase relaxation and lower stress, L-theanine can help in sleep in a number of ways. ... Research also shows L-theanine can improve the quality of sleep—not by acting as a sedative, but by lowering anxiety and promoting relaxation. Supplement form can be bought in health food stores.
SOOTHING HERBAL TEAS - Lemon balm is a member of the mint family that's used both as a cooking ingredient and as a herbal medicine. It's also well known for its ability to promote better sleep. ... These days, lemon balm is often mixed with other ingredients, like chamomile or hops, to create a relaxing formula which can help people sleep.
Try MEDITATION this can be done in bed or relaxing in a chair. Better still join a meditation group for weekly guided sessions. Yoga and meditation both hugely help switch off the mind and aid a peaceful night's sleep.
GET CHECKED OUT IF you frequently get up in the night to use the bathroom, men even if under 50 please get your prostate health checked. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full nights sleep you might have sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts throughout the night.
There are many other supplements and herbal remedies on the market targeting sleep, as everyone is individual it is well worth trying out what works best for you.
Katie Murphy Lic Ac MTCMCI