DO YOU HAVE TROUBLE FALLING ASLEEP? DO YOU WAKE UP AT NIGHT AND FIND IT HARD TO GET BACK TO SLEEP? DO YOU WAKE UP BEFORE YOUR TIME AND COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED? Have you convinced yourself that going without adequate sleep makes you Mr Superman?
Well Mr Superman (and gender really has nothing to do with this!) you are a classic case for insomnia.
Insomnia can be really frustrating and stressful. Quality sleep is the key to optimal health and it is clear that lacking sleep affects your health. Individuals with insomnia find it difficult to either fall asleep and/or stay asleep.
Insomnia commonly leads to daytime sleepiness, lethargy and a general feeling of being unwell and ‘fragged out’ both mentally and physically.
Oh, you have company …and lots of it !
Sleep disorders are very common and reportedly one out of ten people suffer from it. Nearly 50% of all cases are related to depression, anxiety or stress but insomnia can also be caused by other disorders such as digestive problems, hypoglycaemia, muscle or joint pain, respiratory problems, hyperthyroidism, restless legs syndrome, hormonal imbalance, adrenal fatigue, etc. Your Doctor or naturopath can identify the causes of insomnia and find natural solutions to correct the situation.
Know further that a lack of nutrients like calcium and magnesium can wake you up at night and keep you from getting back to sleep? In general, poor diet and bad habits such as eating rich, fatty or sweet foods before bedtime can affect the quality of your sleep.
A lack of physical activity can also contribute to insomnia. So put on your running shoes and go get some fresh air, you will sleep better, it’s guaranteed and actually works!
The key to success is consistency, not intensity. Studies revealed that the minimum amount of exercise to produce an effect on the brain is 20 minutes, 3 times a week, at an intensity that allows you to talk at the same time… (talk !…not sing).
HOW MANY HOURS?
It is difficult to exactly quantify how many hours of sleep you need due to varying individual lifestyles. For some people, five hours suffice but for others 8, 9 or even 10 hours are needed to be fully rested and experiencing excessive tiredness during the day. The important thing is to get enough sleep for your lifestyle, so if you wake up and go through your day feeling ‘up’ or ‘charged’, then you have had enough sleep.
- Gobbling big meals 3 hours before bedtime is a ‘no-no’.
- Evening, go for foods rich in tryptophan, an amino acid
that plays a role in the production of serotonin, a
neurotransmitter that is essential for sleep. Milk, Nut butters, yogurt, bananas, dates, figs and dairy products are high in this amino acid.
- Avoid alcohol, coffee and nicotine 4 to 6 hours before
bedtime. These stimulants disrupt your sleep cycles. Nicotine, may seem to have a calming effect, but is actually a neurostimulant and can easily cause sleep disorders.
SET A ROUTINE TO RESTORE A HEALTHY SLEEP CYCLE
Go to bed only when you are tired;
Get off the bed if you are not sleeping;
Establish a sleep cycle, by trying to get up at a fixed hour;
Kill those naps during the day, especially after 3:00 p.m (late afternoons)
Exercise, but leave a gap of at least two hours before bedtime;
A warm bath 1 to 2 hours before bedtime works.
You can add Epsom salt or drops of essential oils, such as chamomile or lavender in your bath water to better the experience and this works too!
Try relaxation techniques, visualization or meditation in the evening;
Write down your worries on a sheet to clear your mind; (and one after effect is that you will probably find that that is where they exist…in your mind!)
Ventilate your room and sleep with your door or your window open if you don’t own an air purifier to allow oxygen circulation;
The big one : Turn off the Wi-Fi and put your cell phone away
Avoid the computer, television and even telephone conversations, they can increase your level of cortisol (stress hormone) at least 2hours aprior to sleep especially if you have less than welcome friends and stress doling relatives !
Hypoglycaemia (sugar level drops too low) and cortisol level increases in the body is a sure fire way to keep you awake. Eat well during the day and just a small snack before sleep could help.
Sleep well !!!