Not Sleeping well? Having a hard time falling asleep at night? waking up throughout the night? Not Feeling rested in the morning?
Sleep problems seem to be on the top of many of my clients lists of major symptoms when they first come into the office. Did you know that without proper sleep all areas of the mind and body can suffer especially hormone balance?
Being deprived of sleep has been shown to:
- Increase risk of stroke. According to research it has been shown that people who consistently get less than 6 hours of sleep a night had 4 times the risk of stroke symptoms.
- Can lead to obesity. Less sleep can lead to increased hunger and a desire for junk foods. It can also cause hormonal imbalances leading to a slower metabolism.
- Lack of sleep lends to forgetfulness and memory loss. Have you ever noticed that when you are running on little to no sleep you can't think clearly and you make more mistakes and forget things more easily?
- One study found that people who slept less than 6 hours each night had a 48% higher risk of heart disease.
- Increased risk of diabetes. Studies show that sleep deprivation can lead to insulin resistance and higher levels of insulin.
These are just some of the scientific research studies that are associated with lack of sleep and health problems associated with them. There are many more and I don't know about you but these few are enough for me to want to make sure that I get good quality sleep.
So what can you do when you are experiencing sleep issues? Before you reach for pharmaceutical medications to help you sleep give some of these a try.
- Disconnect from electronics in the bedroom. Do not have a TV in your bedroom and make sure that your cell phone is far enough away from you to have to get up and walk over to it when needed.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evening. That glass of wine you drink in the evening to wind down can actually disturb your sleep and keep you awake at night.
- Take a magnesium salt bath. Not only does relaxing in a warm tub help mellow you out but the addition of magnesium salts will help to relax your muscles and induce restful sleep.
- Make sure your room is dark and free from light. Dark rooms help tell your body that it is time to sleep. If you cannot block out all the light try wearing a soft comfortable eye mask.
- Spray lavender on your pillow and sheets. Studies show that Lavender has a calming effect and helps to create restful sleep.
- Turn on white noise. White noise is low level constant noise that helps distract you from waking at every noise that happens at night. There are machines you can buy or even something as simple as a ceiling fan set on low.
- Drink chamomile tea. Chamomile is a calming and relaxing herb with no side effects that is perfect for your evening drink while you are winding down.
- Do not drink anything before bed. Drinking before bed can cause multiple trips the bathroom at night causing disturbed sleep.
- Give your kids and your animals the boot. Animals can scratch, lick, and breath loudly and if you have kids you know how crazy they can sleep! Make sleep "your time" to recoup so you can be rested and energized to better care for your family.
- Have your hormones checked especially your adrenals and cortisol levels. High cortisol levels can be a nightmare when you are trying to wind down at night and can contribute to keeping you wound up.
- Get exercise daily but keep it to earlier in the day. Try not to exercise within 4 hours of going to bed. Research suggests that people who exercise first thing in the morning have more energy throughout the day and more restful sleep at night. Doesn't that sound wonderful?
- Avoid eating a heavy meal in the evening. Heavy meals take longer to digest and the body can't do both. It cannot sleep soundly and digest well.
- Let go of the days thoughts both today and tomorrow. Thinking about all the stuff that went on during the day or focusing on any problems you experienced, or worrying about the next day will increase you cortisol levels and disturb or prevent sleep.
- Buy new pillows and comfortable sheets. Having a comfortable clean bed at night helps you settle down and relax. I know that the best night of sleep I get every week is the night I put on fresh out of the dryer clean sheets.
- If you still aren't sleeping try something natural before reaching for sleeping pills. There are many great options out there such as lemon balm, hops, passionflower, chamomile, ginger, etc.
Make sure you leave a comment and let me know which of these worked for you!
As always......in good health and happiness,
Brandy Augustine PhD