Lack of sleep is only bad if you have to drive,
No matter who you are, how old you are, where you live, what you do in your life, we all have one thing in common ... we need sleep!
But for some sleep, or good quality sleep seems to be elusive.
For me sleep is critical, as is my daily nap lol, and I am pretty useless when I don't get enough sleep ... bring on the giant cup of tea please.
When I don't get enough sleep I tend to be fused by caffeine and sugar ... not good, and not supportive of continued good sleep.
Before we get into all of the nitty gritty about how to improve your sleep, we need to first look at some sleep facts ...
What is insomnia???
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep. (Mayo Clinic)
So to break down the types of insomnia ...
When to seek help?
Who to seek help from?
Keys to your best sleep
In an effort to bring you evidence based suggestions for how to get your best sleep I went to Dr Brenda Tapp ... if you haven't already figured out she is my go to for awesome information ... and then I threw in some of my one researched suggestions.
Follow a Sleep Schedule ... you should be going to bed and waking up at approximately the same time every day. Schedule it in ... you can even set up a sleep schedule on you phone if you have an iPhone.
Don't Force Yourself To Stay Awake ... the rest of your episode will still be in your Netflix cue tomorrow ... if you have to fight to stay awake that would be fighting what your body wants and needs rather than honouring what it is telling you.
Manage Your Stress ... fight or flight (the sympathetic nervous system) is not a state that is conducive to sleep, so we have to teach our bodies to enter a rest and digest state again (triggering the parasympathetic nervous system). Try adding a breathing exercise like moon piercing breath as part of your bedtime ritual.
Gratitude Meditation Before Bed ... well really any meditation in the evening before bed is going to have a positive impact on sleep, but a gratitude meditation is particularly good at flipping your mental and emotional switch to positive. Try a guided gratitude meditation, journalling, or adding a new little piece of paper to your gratitude / happiness jar. You can also check out my sleep meditation collection.
Aromatherapy ... studies are showing that regular inhaled aromatherapy can have a significant impact on sleep. This is a great piece to add to your before bed ritual, not only will the oils themselves have a positive impact but also the ritual itself will help to tell your brain and body it's time for rest. Learn more about custom aromatherapy.
Keep a Cool Bedroom ... apparently exposure to heat increases wakefulness and reduces REM sleep, so a cool room and the right amount of blankets is key.
Keep a Clutter Free Bedroom ... a cluttered space makes for a cluttered mind, so PUT YOUR CLOTHES AWAY, clear off your dresser, basically declutter anything that doesn't give you a sense of peace when you walk into your room.
No Tech In the Bedroom ... this is a big one ... the only thing in mine is my phone which I use for my alarm, but the best part of setting up a sleep schedule is that my phone automatically does not let ANY alerts sound (other than the odd amber alert)
Reduce Exposure to Artificial Lights ... put your living room lights on a dimmer and lower the brightness as the evening progresses ... limit your screen time before bed (or if you are like me and read on an iPad, try choosing a sepia colour for your pages and set night shift to turn on at sunset, also lower the brightness on your screen) ... no screen time while in bed ... use blackout blinds in your bedrooms to reduce light pollution (this also helps keep kids asleep longer in the summer hahaha).
Don't Go To Bed Hungry ... a small snack in the evenings may regulate your blood sugar, preventing dips while you sleep.
Do Not Consume Alcohol Before Bed ... it's known to reduce REM sleep, total sleep, and sleep continuity.
No Caffeine After Lunch ... now in transparency this is not one I follow lol, because well tea is my thing, but switching to an herbal tea infusion later in the day is my compromise ... according to Dr Tapp caffeine can take 6 hours to metabolize, so it's affect on your body lasts way longer than the cup of tea lasts for.
Are Your Hormones Wrecking Havoc? ... everything from thyroid issues to low progesterone, estrogen, or testosterone can cause sleep disturbances. Having your hormone levels tested can help you and your practitioner come up with a plan
Have Your Nutrient Levels Checked (by your Naturopathic Dr) ... low iron, B12, and vitamin D are all associated with sleep disturbances.
Know Your Medications ... some meditation have a side effect of insomnia, or have a side effect that would ultimately lead to insomnia ... talk to your pharmacist, prescribing physician or naturopathic doctor, you may be able to adjust the timing of your medications or have alternatives that will not interfere with sleep.
Ok, so I know that was a whole lot of information that I just presented to you ... but don't stress, it's ok (and actually advisable) to work through these suggestions slowly. Maybe pick one and work on it for a week before adding the next suggestion.
Start today by getting your bedroom optimized for sleep.
Slowly and steadily you can improve your sleep by setting yourself up for success and the support of your wellness team.
Be well & well rested.
Brien-anne RMT, CA
I am passionate not only about Massage Therapy & Aromatherapy, but also living a holistic lifestyle and empowering others to do the same!