Everyone at some point has sleeping problems, whether it’s an inability to get to sleep or stay asleep. For 10% of the population, this insomnia is more often than not.
Adults should aim for 6-9 hours of sleep each night. Quality is just as important as quantity of sleep.
Lack of sleep can cause:
- Poor concentration
- Poor memory
- Low mood
- Mood disorders such as depression
- Stress related disorders such as heartburn, ulcers etc.
- Immune related disorders
- Hormonal disruptions
- Blood sugar imbalances
Causes of poor sleep are complex and varied but in most cases STRESS is the culprit. Cortisol (a stress hormone) is usually to blame. Cortisol should peak around 7am in the morning and drop during the afternoon, reaching its lowest point around 11pm. If this level doesn’t drop by the evening sleep, it’s almost impossible. Stress, worry and anxiety all increase Cortisol levels. Cortisol increases blood sugar levels by converted stored glycogen into active blood sugar. Trying to sleep while stressed is like trying to sleep after drinking an energy drink filled with sugar – virtually impossible.
Melatonin is the hormone responsible for sleep. It works in opposition to Cortisol. It starts to rise as the sunsets and drops as the sun rises. Hence, most of us could benefit from going to bed earlier and getting up earlier.
Lifestyle tips to enhance sleep:
- Get regular exercise (preferably first thing in the morning, not in the evening especially in the 2 hours before sleep).
- Eliminate stimulants such as coffee and sugar. Not just before bed but during the day as well.
- Try to get to bed around the same time each night.
- Utilise stress management techniques such as meditation.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Use the bed/bedroom for sleep and intimacy only.
- Consider eating a protein containing snack prior to bed, low blood sugar levels during the night can wake some people, carbs at night can make this worse.
- Try to spend some time in the sun everyday. This helps to reset Melatonin levels and therefore Cortisol levels.
- Lose weight if you need to, carrying extra weight increases your changes of sleep apnea and worsening insomnia.
- Avoid blue light (light emitted from television and computer screens) prior to bed.
- Make the bedroom as dark as possible, consider other aspects of the bedroom such as temperature and ventilation.
- Try to create a new ritual around preparing for bed. Think about a newborn baby, you copy the same routine each night to let the baby know its time for sleep, adults can benefit from routine too. Consider some of the below.
- A warm bath with Epson salts or aromatherapy thrown in.
- Play classical or other relaxing music to help unwind.
- Drink herbal tea such as Chamomile or sleepy time blend
- Read (not work related)
There are many different supplements on the market that can help. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Chillax, this is a natural sour cherry juice. Sour cherry is the only food source to naturally contain melatonin. It improves sleep duration, efficiency and quality. Added to this is lactium. Lactium is the component in milk that helps you to relax and enhances sleep.
- Ultra Muscleze Night, this is a practitioner only powdered product that combines sour cherry and lactium with magnesium, calcium and other nutrients that promote relaxation.
- Kava, the traditional Fijian herb. This is one of the fastest moving herbs I dispense and it’s available in liquid or tablets. It’s specific for anxiety, stress and insomnia.
I hope this has helped to improve your sleep. If you are still struggling, please book an appointment on 9893 7007 and we will work on this together.