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Human beings are the only species that deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent gain. A modern theme I constantly see in clinic is a lack of quality, restorative sleep. Worse still, a lack thereof due to being online, onscreen and available.
Research in improving sleep naturally is proven to save lives. At least 24 published studies have examined mortality linked to hypnotic (sleeping pills) consumption. Sleeping tablets might help make you sleep, but they do not give you restorative sleep and suppresses your immune system. Sleeping pill consumption has been associated with a significant risk of cancer.
The 4 pillars of healthy sleep are:
- Regularity: same times to bed and rising
- Continuity: as few awakenings, as possible (thank you, children!)
- Quantity: average 8 hours sleep, and adequate time for each stage of sleep
- Quality: healthy electrical signature (EEG) of sleep.
This Christmas, be sure to stuff your stocking full of strategies to establish healthy natural sleep patterns by:
Reducing your alcohol intake, especially in the hours before retiring. Just two glasses of wine with dinner is enough to reduce sleep quality by nearly 40%. You are almost better for having a glass with lunch, or not at all.
Avoid looking at screens (blue light) especially in poorly lit rooms in the 2 hours before retiring. We love Baxter Blue glasses to help filter out blue light and support your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Don’t forget the body’s Melatonin release starts at approx. 9 pm. So, screens off by then!
Allow yourself time to unwind. Read a book, meditate, a bath with some lavender oil, deep breathing or stretching, journaling to empty your mind of the chatter.
Consume your last meal at least 2 hours before bed. Your body is supposed to rest and regenerate at this point. Not spend its energy digesting.
Issues that might impact sleep initiation need to be addressed. These include pain, anxiety or reflux (your naturopath can help here).
Sleep maintenance insomnia can be linked to depression, sleep apnoea, hypoglycaemia, pain/discomfort and/or the use of drugs and alcohol. Makes sure these issues are addressed by consulting your naturopath.
So, even though it’s considered to be the silly season, it isn’t so silly to begin focusing on restorative sleep patterns now, for the years ahead.
Yours Naturally, Carmen
Additional sleep information