Healthy Sleep Habits
Am I getting enough sleep?
You think you are sleeping, but are you getting the right amount or the right “type” of sleep? Clues that may indicate things aren’t great with your sleep include: drowsiness or fatigue during the day, decreased concentration, impaired memory, snapping when things get stressful, mood changes, irritability, muscle tension, or increased health problems such as infections.
What can I do right now?
Maintain Consistent Sleep and Wake Times.
Reserve the bed for sleep and sex only. Do not read, watch TV, eat, or worry in bed. Solve daily dilemmas outside of the bedroom.
Your sleeping environment should be quiet, cool and comfortable. The room should be clutter-free. Reduce the amount of ambient light as much as possible.
However, most people do better avoiding exercise late in the evening.
Eat a Light Snack
If you have problems with waking during the early hours of the morning, have a small protein snack just before bed to ensure consistent blood sugar levels throughout the night.
Natural things that relax the body and prepare it for sleep:
- Warm baths, possibly adding Epsom salts or lavender oil
- Meditating for 5-30 minutes
- Breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation
- Calcium and magnesium supplementation. Consult your Bastyr clinician for dosages and recommendations.
Thing that interfere with sleep:
- Although alcohol may make you fall asleep, the sleep obtained after drinking is fragmented and light.
- The stimulating effects of caffeine may last up to 10 hours in some people. Avoid it in the afternoon if getting to sleep is a problem.
- The stimulating effects of nicotine (first- or second-hand smoke) can last several hours.
- B-vitamin supplements can increase energy that keeps some people awake, if taken before bed. Take B-vitamins earlier in the day.
- Do not go to bed with a very full stomach. Large quantities of protein are stimulating to the body as digestion occurs. It is best to finish eating at least three hours before going to bed.
Improving the quality of your sleep – Bastyr Clinicians Can Help!
Sleep problems typically arise because of a combination of things. One solution, like taking a sleeping pill, may seem like an improvement…but typically sleep doesn’t improve for long. Plus, drugs can lead to a feeling of daytime sluggishness, worsening sleep, or chemical dependence. Bastyr University’s clinicians take a multi-prong approach to your sleep issues.
Sleep is fundamental. So at Bastyr, we will look at your fundamentals…are you supporting your body in the right ways? We’ll ask you about your diet, your water intake, your intake of stimulants and your exercise/meditation practices. Sometimes all you need is the addition of some simple activity or diet change.
Sometimes the problem goes beyond the fundamental. Bastyr University clinicians can provide you with tests to confirm there are no nutritional or biochemical imbalances that may trigger sleeplessness. Often, your insurance will cover all or most of these standard tests.
Mental stress and emotional pressures can cause sleeplessness. Bastyr has many tools to help think through strategies to help you, quickly, and without drugs. If you are already on anti-anxiety or anti-depression drugs, that is not a problem, we know how to work with your medical doctor to create a comprehensive plan to assist you. See a naturopathic doctor at either of our clinics in Seattle or San Diego.
Edited by: Jeanne Galloway, ND