You’ve just finished showering, changed into your cozy pajamas and gently fallen into your warm duvet and soft mattress. You think to yourself, “Okay, time to close my eyes and get some zzzz’s.” Few minutes later you realize you have been constantly thinking about your day, the projects you need to get done and what delicious meal you will be making for dinner the next day. Suddenly your heart starts racing and you start to panic. “Why am I not sleeping yet? I need to get at least 8 hours of sleep and it’s already 1:00 am. Ah my…I am going to have some serious black eye bags tomorrow morning.” You then start staring at the wall and think, “Maybe if I count backwards I will stop thinking and fall asleep, or maybe I should get up and take something to help me sleep.” Nothing works…
Sleep is an extremely important part of our daily lives. It allows our body to replenish our energy stores and enables us to function optimally both physically and mentally. Think about it! We spend 8 hours of EACH day sleeping. That is 1/3 of your day spent sleeping. These tips can help get you started in ensuring you get the best sleep that your body deserves…
- Disconnect from technology… It has been proven that the blue light emitted from your technology devices can impact your circadian rhythm (24 hour sleep/wake cycle). In fact, blue light signals to your body that it is morning and it’s time to wake up! Red light, on the other hand, signals your brain to shut down and find a state of relaxation.So turn off your devices to help your brain ease into sleep!
- Start MOVING!… Exercise is KEY! Exercise is key to optimal health. It has been shown that moderate intensity exercise can decrease the time it takes to sleep and increase the length of sleep. Exercise has a multitude of benefits as it can decrease anxiety and arousal relieving time spent thinking as you are tossing and turning. It also has a positive impact on your circadian rhythm. So get your heart pumping with a regular exercise routine to optimize your sleep!
- Into the dark… Make sure your room is completely dark to the point where if you were to look for your hand in front of your face you wouldn’t be able to see it because of the darkness. Ensuring your room is dark will allow for your body to find a state of relaxation and will prevent disruption in the secretion of melatonin. Melatonin is known as an internal sleep facilitator and has the ability to readjust circadian rhythm. It also maintains the circadian rhythm.
- Routine, routine, routine!One of the most important aspects to getting a good night sleep is ensuring you follow a daily routine. Make sure you are going to bed at the same time each night and try to wake up at the same time each morning. This will set you internal clock or circadian rhythm (24 hour sleep/wake clock).
- Create your humble abode…It is vital that we ensure our bedrooms are set up for a relaxing retreat. Make it a rule that your bedroom is only for sleep and sexual activity. The worse thing you can do is watch TV or do work that may cause overstimulation. This can program your body to associate your bedroom with tension preventing your brain from thinking your bedroom is a relaxing sleeping space.
Sleep allows us to organize our thoughts, enhance our memory, restore the vital functions of our organs, provides us with the energy we need… I could keep on going. It is SUCH AN important part of our day. Using naturopathic medicine we can work to re-establish a foundation for sleep by starting with the basics mentioned in this article. Additional modalities can be used such as acupuncture, botanical medicine and homeopathy. Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor today to see how you can optimize your sleep.
1. How does exercise help those with chronic insomnia? [Internet]. Sleepfoundation.org. 2016 [cited 4 June 2016]. Available from: http://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the-expert/how-does-exercise-help-those-chronic-insomnia
2. Cajochen C e. Role of melatonin in the regulation of human circadian rhythms and sleep. – PubMed – NCBI [Internet]. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 2016 [cited 4 June 2016]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12622846
3. The science of blue light and why you maybe can’t sleep at night [Internet]. Upworthy. 2016 [cited 4 June 2016]. Available from: http://www.upworthy.com/the-science-of-blue-light-and-why-you-maybe-cant-sleep-at-night
4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia Part 2: Stimulus Control [Internet]. Psychology Today. 2016 [cited 4 June 2016]. Available from: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleepless-in-america/200905/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-insomnia-part-2-stimulus-control