Can’t get to sleep? Can’t stay asleep? Walk around all day feeling zombie-like because you are so tired? You are in the company of many (1 in 7 have it) and this is one of the most common reasons people seek medical help. You lay there, toss and turn, check out the clock and get more and more rattled because you know you have only so many hours to get yourself to something you just have to do the next day. This raises your stress level and makes sleep even more elusive.
Insomnia takes its toll. On your mood, energy, health and ability to function during the day. It can lead to serious health problems. Some simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference in the quality of your sleep.
We all need to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle what the day serves us up. You don’t need to believe that we all need 8 hours of sleep because we don’t. Our bodies are all unique creations. Many people get by, just fine, on 5 or 6 hours. The important thing about sleep is its quality.
What causes insomnia? Could be just some usual stuff like too much to do at work, worry about finances or family responsibilities or a disagreement with your spouse or a friend. There could also be some more serious underlying problem or illness. Some medications can interfere with sleep as can chronic pain. Sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome (so annoying) and circadian rhythm disturbances, which is so common with shift workers could be culprits. Shift workers are continually having to reset their bodies because of crazy, rotating shift hours.
Let’s look at some of the things within your control that can be done to improve sleep quality.
Don’t exercise in the evening. You don’t want to be raising your heart rate before bed. Don’t drink coffee for five hours before bedtime. Better yet, don’t touch it past lunch time. Don’t eat before going to bed. A light snack of fruit or yogurt is just fine but stay away from sweets, carbs, sodas or anything you know might upset your digestive system or raise your heart rate. Your goal is to lower your heart rate to relaxation mode.
TAKE THE BODY, THE MIND WILL FOLLOW
Set up bedtime routines and do these at the same time every night. Take a relaxing bath, brush your teeth, wash your face. The constant repetition of these nighttime rituals signals your mind that it is power down time.
Turn off your cell phone, your computer, and TV. Dim your lights. You are trying to avoid stimulation. This is the time to read, meditate or enjoy some focused, deep breathing. Your body needs these signals to turn on its melatonin production.
SET THE STAGE
Make your bedroom for sleeping or reading only. Make sure it is cool, quiet and dark. Remove clocks from your bedroom or at least from your view. Consider getting blackout drapes.
Should you still not be able to sleep, don’t fight it. Try reading a little longer or make yourself a cup of warm milk or a herbal tea and then try again. Tell yourself any worries you have can wait until tomorrow.
Try these things. You may be very surprised to see sleep improvement. Don’t be shy to come in and talk with us at Heart Pharmacy about melatonin supplements which have helped so many of our clients get a better night’s sleep.