Our busy lives mean that we are constantly on the go. We juggle many tasks and responsibilities, and strive to be as productive as possible. Does this sound like you?
It is estimated that around 50% of adults experience occasional insomnia, with approximately 10% of adults suffering from chronic insomnia.
In an age where being busy has become trendy, the importance of sleep is often forgotten. We all know that we need to sleep, but it pays to stop and consider the quality of your sleep as well as the quantity.
Sleep is not just about resting. It is during sleep when your body excretes growth hormone and melatonin levels rise – this leads to tissue regeneration and antioxidant activity respectively. When you are asleep, your body resets its metabolism, regenerates bone and connective tissue, regenerates your liver, breaks down fat stores, and supports blood sugar regulation. A lack of sleep causes an imbalance of cortisol levels and even alters your appetite hormones, meaning that you are more likely to overeat during the day.
Not getting enough quality sleep, therefore, is associated with many conditions including diabetes and obesity, imbalanced cholesterol and triglycerides, increased cardiovascular risk, accelerated ageing, poor concentration and memory, lowered immune function, stress, irritability, anxiety, depression and low mood.
There is good news though, as fortunately there’s a lot that can be done in terms of lifestyle to support good sleep.
What can you do?
· In the evening, dim the lights and stop using screens (computers, tablets mobiles) at least 30mins to one hour before bedtime – this is very important as blue light stops your body producing melatonin. Read a non-electronic paper book or novel – something relaxing or journaling.
· Include good quality protein in each meal – this helps your body produce neurotransmitters to support good mood and good sleep
· Avoid alcohol if you experience sleep problems
· Magnesium and potassium rice foods can help relax the body – A little avocado or organic yoghurt.
· Don’t eat a too close to bedtime – finish your last meal of the day by 2 hours before bedtime to give your digestive system a rest
· Avoid coffee and other caffeinated drinks after lunchtime
· Have a cup of herbal tea after dinner – for example chamomile, lemon balm or passionflower
· Go to bed and rise around the same time each day – this ensures your body gets into a rhythm and you may not even need an alarm clock to wake you in the mornings
· Move your body daily – exercise is as important for good sleep as it is for overall health
· Make sure you are exposed to sunlight during the day – this supports your circadian rhythms and helps you produce the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin, which is then converted to the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin
· Wind down before going to bed – you may like to have a bath or read a good book
· Make sure your bedroom is dark and not too hot
· Write down any worries in a journal before going to bed, so that you can put them out of your mind
· Have a relaxing lavender essential oil bath 1 hour before bed
· Make sure you have a comfortable supportive bed.
How can a naturopath help?
Naturopaths are well equipped to support your sleep. They can:
- Identify any underlying causes of poor sleep – this can include health conditions, medications, stress & lifestyle factors etc
- Prescribe an appropriate magnesium
- Prescribe a tailored liquid herbal remedy to ease restlessness, anxiety etc and promote good sleep
- Prescribe homeopathic melatonin if indicated
- Advise you on what further foods to eat to support good sleep
If you have trouble falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, or wake unrefreshed, get in touch to find out more about how I can help you.
Wishing you good rest and sweet dreams!
Naturopath BHlthSc. (Nat) NHAA ECNH
If you are struggling with sleep difficulties, please call me I’m happy to help you.
Christine Carley is a qualified naturopath supporting her clients with gut health, stress, anxiety and fatigue. She has a strong commitment to her clients and offers ongoing holistic treatment plans. She has been facilitating mindfulness practices for 17 years. She currently practices at Western Health Collective & her private practice.
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This article provides general information and is not intended to constitute advice. All care is taken to ensure information is accurate and relevant. Please see your practitioner for personalised health treatments and advice.