Make Sleep a Priority

sleep deprivationThe Center for Disease Control has determined that insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic.  There is little debate anymore about the importance of sleep and there are numerous articles and studies discussing the subject.  Check out Mark Sisson’s Definitive Guide to Sleep and Robb Wolf’s Importance of a Good Night Sleep as well as Robb’s interesting podcast with Dr. Kirk Parsley.  Dr. Parsley is a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and served as Naval Special Warfare’s expert on sleep medicine.  It’s a very clear message – sleep is the cornerstone of both physical and mental health.

Sleep is not an indulgence.  Sleep is critical for:

The amount of sleep needed varies by age and like everything else about health, it’s important to figure out what works best for you personally.  In general 7-9 hours seems to be ideal for most adults.  If you have difficulty getting up, feel irritable and tired throughout the day, likely you aren’t getting enough.

Rise and shineGetting a good night’s sleep involves good sleep habits.  Develop a sleep routine of going to bed and rising about the same time every day, even on weekends.  This routine can help the body wake up on its own without an alarm clock and makes it easier to fall asleep at night.

Sleeping in the dark is also important.  Light affects our sleep by inhibiting the production of melatonin which is a hormone that regulates our circadian rhythm.  Keep electronics out of the bedroom, cut out blue light (computer and TV screens) too close to bedtime, cover the alarm clock and close your blinds if you have street lights.  If street lights aren’t an issue, leaving the shades open can let natural light cue your body to awaken as the sky lightens.  Getting morning exposure to natural light can also help you sleep by reinforcing your body’s natural wake/sleep cycle.

Just as exercise is important to overall health, adequate exercise is also important for getting good sleep.  Experts suggest at least a couple of hours between exercise and bed as you want to start relaxing towards bedtime rather than stimulating the body.

Diet also impacts sleep.  Switching to a paleo diet helped me sleep more soundly.  For years, night time waking and a visit to the bathroom were standard until my shift in diet.  I’ve read many testimonials about people whose health improved after switching to a paleo diet and better sleep is a common byproduct.

Meditation or quieting your mind by focusing on your breathing for 10 minutes at bedtime are natural sleep aides to calm your thoughts and help you fall asleep.

peace1.69191636_stdI have also found Young Living Essential Oils to be very beneficial for getting a good night’s sleep.  Try diffusing Peace & Calming or lavender at bedtime or adding 2-5 drops along with 1 oz of distilled water to a small spray bottle and misting over your pillow before sleeping.  I keep a roller ball bottle of Peace & Calming on my nightstand and apply a small amount to the bottom of my feet and wrists at bedtime.  I love the calming scent and this ritual signals my body that it’s time for sleep.  Taking a warm bath with a 1/2 cup of Epsom salts along with 3-5 drops (2 drops for babies and children) of geranium, lavender or Peace & Calming essential oil before bed is a great way to relax and unwind.

If insomnia or fitful sleep is a significant issue and these lifestyle changes haven’t helped, you can still avoid sleep medications by turning to technologies like Brainwave Optimization.   Brainwave Optimization is a non-invasive, drug-free technology that helps the brain calibrate its own functioning and move towards greater balance and harmony.  Clients suffering from insomnia and other sleep issues have reported significant and lasting improvement after experiencing Brainwave Optimization.  Learn more from the study conducted by the Department of Neurology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, which found that Brainwave Optimization is highly effective in relieving insomnia.

Of course, your naturopathic doctor is always a great resource for investigating your particular issues regarding sleep.

Cute girl asleep with teddy bear in bedIf getting a full night’s sleep is due to extraneous issues (i.e., children), following these same ideas are helpful for the kids as well.  Catching up on sleep with naps also helps resolve sleep deficit.  I LOVE a Sunday afternoon nap out on the patio when it’s warm.

Sleep is essential for physical and mental wellness.  Do what works for you to get a great night’s sleep and find more enjoyment in your days!

 

I am grateful each day for wellness, happiness and the opportunity to share with you.