A Good Night's Sleep
Do you actually remember the last time you had a good night's sleep? For many of us, it was when we were five years old. The truth is that as we get older, we feel that sleep is just something that either happens or not, and we don't really focus on improving our sleep. BIG mistake! There are more illnesses and conditions that emerge from lack of sleep than you might think: hypothyroidism, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, arthritis, obesity, ADD, ADHD, constipation ... I could go on and on. So let's talk a bit more about new ideas for sleep. First, you need to identify your sleep issue. If you have trouble falling sleep, you have Onset Insomnia. This is usually related to thyroid issues, too much pre-sleep sensory input, worry or emotional disruption, poor circadian rhythm. If you fall asleep but wake up often during the night, or much too early, then you have Maintenance Insomnia. This is usually related to adrenal fatigue, chronic stress, digestive problems, breathing disorders.
Knowing which is true for you (and for some it can be both), helps to know what to try. For instance melatonin is a popular support for sleep, but it will only have an effect for Onset Insomnia, which is why many people who travel choose it. So let's look at the suggestions that really seem to work:
Ideas for Onset Insomnia
Potential Thyroid Issues - typical daytime symptoms will be dysregulation of body temperature, daytime fatigue, poor circulation to hands and feet, issues with reproductive hormones. Try these: * Prolamine Iodine - take 1 Organic Iodine tablet at dinner and see if it starts to help with your sleep. It supports the thyroid and allows the body to wind down towards the end of the day. * Magnesium Lactate - take 2 Magnesium Lactate capsules and drink a full glass of water before bed. The magnesium helps to relax the body's muscles and the water helps your regulatory hormones for sleep to flow freely through the body. * Take an afternoon nap - often you can be overtired and so the body has actually released hormones to help maintain your wakefulness to meet the demand. Once you try to sleep you can't because of the release of these hormones. In order to minimize this type of body reaction, take a nap in the afternoon, even for 30 minutes, and it can really help to allow you to sleep at night. * Falling body temperature helps you sleep, so take a hot shower, hit the gym or do FAR Infrared Sauna in the late afternoon, early evening, so your body temperature begins to drop. Staying toasty warm all evening and then crawling under a heated blanket will do wonders for keeping you awake! * Melatonin - This can be helpful for onset insomnia, but instead of buying a pill, try drinking two cups per day of tart cherry juice which is rich in melatonin. * Avoid foods and beverages that cause you to react. Not just caffeine, but often foods to which you may have a sensitivity can stimulate your digestion, prompting you to stay awake. Typical foods to avoid before sleep are cheese, sugary things, salt, wheat.
Ideas for Maintenance Insomnia
* Sleep environment - You have to be honest about your sleep environment. Not everyone is meant to sleep in the same bed with another person. Often one partner sleeps great and the other struggles. Getting restful sleep is much more important than meeting expectations - so one bed for pre-sleep fun, and two beds for a good night's sleep. Also, there are so many things that can disrupt sleep such as too much light in the room, electrical appliances creating a glow or an electrical field that is disruptive, noise such as snoring or children's breathing. Even beloved animals getting on and off the bed can cause you to come out of REM sleep. One trick to try is to place your pillow at the foot of the bed and sleep with your head there instead of at the normal head of the bed. There is something about changing your sleep norm that can really allow you to rest. And the last thing to consider about your sleep environment is the bed itself. Make sure your mattress is supportive and comfortable, don't put too many layers of covers on so you feel stifled, have enough room to spread out and be comfortable. * Blood sugar - Drops in blood sugar during the night can wake you up, especially if you wake up with an empty feeling in your stomach or your stomach growling. Try a small snack before bed of something that is filling and contains a protein and fat. Peanut butter on a cracker is a good option. Or take 2 Inositol tablets with dinner to help balance your blood sugar through the night. * Adrenal fatigue - This is one of the most common reasons for waking up often during the night. The adrenals control blood pressure, water elimination and even sugar balance. Making sure you eat every few hours throughout the day without skipping meals is an important way to balance the adrenals. You can also try drinking some Hippocrates broth after dinner before bed. The high potassium relaxes the adrenal glands and allows them to power down for sleep. Drenamin is a great supplement to feed and support the adrenals. Take just 2 tablets at breakfast and 2 tablets at lunch to keep the adrenals on a normal schedule. This will also help to alleviate afternoon energy slump as well. * Calm the Nervous System - This is an important aspect of sleep. You may think it only relates to onset insomnia, i.e. falling asleep. But truthfully by calming the nervous system before bed, you set up a cycle that allows for restful sleep. This is the idea behind Valerian, Passion Flower, Hops and many other herbal remedies for sleep. Simply doing a relaxation exercise involving breathing, writing down all your thoughts before bed so you can discharge them from your brain, or some relaxing yoga ... all of these can help to keep your sleep undisturbed until morning.
If you want to be the best you that you can be, then you have to make your sleep just as important as anything else in your life. Don't sacrifice your sleep for your partner, your children, your pets or your job. You will like the rested you so much more!