Proper sleep is one of the cornerstones of good health, yet over half of us don’t get the adequate sleep we need. In general adults require at least 7 hrs of sleep a night (that’s SLEEP, not just time in bed). There are many reasons sleep can be affected ranging from poor night-time habits to chronic pain to anxiety to chronic illness to hormonal disruption.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, your Vancouver naturopathic doctor will work with you on the individual reasons you are having trouble getting enough shut-eye but here are some of the basics to take care of first.
- Proper “sleep hygiene”, first and foremost
- This doesn’t mean you’re dirty; it encompasses your habits around bedtime. Often working on our pre-sleep routine can do wonders!
- Do you watch TV right before bed? Do you exercise late in the evening? Is your bedroom too bright, loud or hot? Do you drink a lot of caffeine throughout the day?
- Be prepared to examine your diet and eating habits
- Eating rich and/or spicy foods too close to bedtime will affect your sleep, particularly if you are sensitive to that food (i.e. wheat, dairy or spicy foods).
- Stress management is key
- How you handle stress relates to how you secrete cortisol.
- Prolonged chronic stress can deregulate your cortisol secretion (it should be higher in the morning and lower at night) and affect your sleep patterns.
- Relaxation techniques
- Breathing exercises, meditation and guided visualizations can help you to power down and your naturopath may help you to find which works best for you.
- A herb or a supplement may be best to help you sleep
- You are probably familiar with melatonin, which works wonderfully to help reset your clock, but might not be effective if anxiety is keeping you up.
- Common herbs used to help with sleep include Valerian, Passionflower and Hops.
- Acupuncture is a wonderful adjunct to help you get back to sleep
- Your naturopath will choose the points that best fit your case, but points such as ‘An Mian’ which means ‘Peaceful sleep’ in Chinese is a great point to include.
Remember if you have long standing insomnia it may take time to resolve and may have multifaceted causes.
Dr. Katie Smith, our Naturopathic Doctor at Backs in Action, will work with you to find the best and safest solution to help you get some sleep.
Follow our Natropathic Medicine Blog posts for more great advice by our wonderful East Vancouver Naturopathic Doctors. And, as always, we warmly welcome you drop in to our East Vancouver Wellness Centre to meet our fantastic team in person.