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Thursday 17 August 2017

If Sometimes Sleep is Elusive: Getting Quality Rest Helps

I guess there are times when each of us do have trouble sleeping. So what do you do? Perhaps count sheep, or read a book until you begin to feel sleepy...
Dr Libby Weaver (PhD) may have some helpful advice, she writes:

"We've all been there at some point — eyes wide open, trying not to look at the clock for confirmation that yes, despite trying every imaginable strategy it is 3:00 am and there are hours yet before the sun is due to rise. The consequences of this lack of sleep add to the already compounding worry as we think of what another day of work feeling less than refreshed is going to be like. Getting enough sleep affects your health in ways you cannot imagine. Sleep, like moving your body regularly and eating a nourishing diet, is one of the pillars of good health. We cannot fight our biology — sleep is essential to our very being. Lack of sleep can increase inflammation, which in turn is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and poor digestive health. Not to mention what it does to your mood, energy and appetite (hello 10:00 am pastry and coffee and 3:00 pm chocolate bar!).

Typically sleep problems fall into two categories: trouble getting to sleep and trouble staying asleep. Here are some things you can do to ensure you get the quality rest your body needs.

1. Work With Your Wake/Sleep Cycles:
Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can help to set a rhythm to your sleep cycle and prompt your body to recognize when rest time is approaching. A morning ritual such as meditation or yoga that reduces your stress can be extremely beneficial – and this can also be repeated before sleep.
Move your body earlier in the day and avoid anything too vigorous at night, if possible. Movement, particularly movement that gets the heart rate up or is physically exerting, typically activates the sympathetic nervous system making you alert and awake, and subsequently decreases your melatonin (sleep hormone) production. Instead, in the evening, allow yourself time to slow down, unwind and stimulate your sleep neurotransmitters. Around 60 to 90 minutes before sleep, turn off your "devices", turn the lights down and maybe include some meditation or light reading. Finding sleep hygiene that works for you is incredibly important, but these are great starting points for everyone.

2. Limit Sleep Disruptors:
If you drink caffeine, find your threshold for the time you should stop drinking it. Typically, this is around midday as caffeine can stay in the body for around eight hours. Eating a heavy and rich meal late at night takes longer to digest, so your body is busy with the digestive process and indigestion rather than relaxing and helping you get to sleep. So eat smaller portions.
TV screens, laptops and electronic devices not only keep your mind active but also emit light that disrupts sleep hormone production. If you watch TV, consider what you're watching. For example, if you're watching highly stimulating crime dramas it is very difficult to switch from this sympathetic nervous system stimulation to the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for rest and repair. Your biology has primed you to "fight or flight" and then, after you've turned the TV off, you're asking it to just forget what it has seen/experienced and drift peacefully off to sleep. For many of us that's not going to happen! If you're a crime or intense drama show addict, I encourage you to go four weeks without watching them, particularly at night, and see what happens to your sleep.

3. If You Wake During The Night:
Alcohol typically makes you feel sleepy at first, which is why people often use it to help them get off to sleep. But it often results in waking later in the night, typically around 2:00 -3:00 am disrupting sleep by stopping you going into REM sleep - the deepest stage. Limiting alcohol consumption is beneficial for overall health, not just for your sleep.
Many people say they wake up in the middle of the night with their minds racing over their upcoming day. While part of this can be related to stress hormones, it can also be helpful to plan your day before you go to bed so you don't wake at 3:00 am thinking about something you forgot to schedule in your diary. Also try keeping a pen and paper by your bed; if you wake with a thought you can write it down and then address it in the morning.
If you are experiencing a particularly busy or stressful period in your life and you’re noticing that your sleep is getting disturbed, remember the importance of looking after your nervous system to promote activation of your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS); your body’s natural rest and digest pathways. During these periods we can often find that our sympathetic nervous system, our “fight or flight” response, is activated for long stints of time and this impacts significantly on many biochemical pathways, including our sleep cycle. Ways to do this include reducing your consumption of caffeine (which signals adrenaline production) and avoiding it altogether later in the day, amping up our vegetable intake to maximize our nutrient consumption, meditation, Qi gong, tai chi or diaphragmatic breathing.

There are many herbs that may support good sleep, a qualified medical herbalist could help here"
You can see the original article here

Do you have any tips, that others may find helpful.
My Dear Mum always turned to a cup of milk ...

All the best Jan


Snowbird said...

This was most interesting. Being a terribly restless sleeper all tips are most

Carol Blackburn said...

Yes, sleep can be quite the issue, can't it? For me it's pretty much one night at a time. Each night is different just like the day. Some nights I just get up and go to bed and am out for 8-12 hrs. and others it's awaken every two or three hours and sometimes I awaken hungry and can't sleep when I'm hungry. So, a tablespoon of peanut butter or a cup of chamomile tea usually does it to soothe my stomach and allows me to get back to sleep in about 20 minutes. It all depends on how much I've done during the day and how much pain I am in from all the activity at night. Fibromyalgia has it's own challenges which I was hoping Keto would prove to be helpful with. The jury is still out on that though.
Thanks again for your wonderful posts.
Have a great day.

Catarina said...

I have a "sleep hygiene" draft for a post sometime soon.

This sounds so familiar!!

Sandra Cox said...

Once you get past 20 sleeping through the night is a real issue, isn't it?

Elephant's Child said...

I am a chronic insomniac and pain often wakes me. I have learned if I really can't sleep to get up.
One trick which sometimes works is to start the ironing (a job I loathe). I either discover I am sleepy or get the ironing finished. A win either way.

NatureFootstep said...

love those sheep :)

William Kendall said...

Every once in awhile I get a rough night where I'm tossing and turning, but most nights I sleep soundly.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Good advice. I'm luckyto sleep pretty well most nights.

River said...

I used to be a good sleeper, lying down and waking up several hours later, ready to bounce off to work. That all changed when I went to work in a supermarket. I had the early morning opening shift which meant getting up at 4am to be thee ready to work from 6am. I'd be finished and home by lunch time but I'd be desperately tied and needing an afternoon nap.
I'm retired now, but often find myself wide awake in the early hours 2 or 3 am, so I'm sitting up in bed reading and drinking coffee, (which doesn't keep me awake)until I fall asleep again around 5am. Then I sleep as deeply as I did before midnight. So I'm getting enough sleep now, just doing it in shifts.
I watch the crime shows too, but have never had trouble sleeping after them.

happyone said...

I usually sleep good but when I don't I'll get up and walk around the house for a bit and when I get back to bed I fall asleep again.

Linda said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, Jan! There are nights that I don't sleep well at all...and I never have caffeine past 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon. Great tips, I really appreciate this!

Linda said...

A glass of milk does help me to sleep better, and a cup of herbal tea (such as Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time) with a little honey helps as well. Another thing is a warm shower a couple of hours before sleep and the scent of lavender.

Magic Love Crow said...

Thanks Jan!