Tips for Optimal Sleep
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I help patients find the root causes their illness and help them balance their bodies using the least invasive, lowest force interventions. To balance the body Naturopaths first look at "the determinants of health". These are:
These must be in balance first before any higher force intervention is going to help. Often times large gains in health status are obtained just by getting these in balance.
The one area that I find many people deficient in is their sleep. So many Americans are running on inadequate levels of sleep that it should be considered an epidemic. To understand this problem we need to understand what a healthy dose of sleep really is.
Sleep requirements change from age to age.
Infants require the most sleep (14 or more hours a day).
Teenagers need 10 to 12 hours per 24 hour period.
Adults need 7-9 hours per 24 hour period (preferably uninterrupted)
Getting appropriate sleep cycles is required to help the body recover from its daily activities. When your sleep cycles are disrupted for any reason, the body will not heal as well and the mind will not be as sharp.
Sleep problems need to be understood on several different levels, and that is what makes Naturopaths the ideal doctors to address this issue. We look at the person from a holistic view, taking into account the emotional, chemical, and physical aspects of life. Sleep is so intricately wound in our health that losing sleep may be the cause of other health problems or a health problem may result in a lack of sleep. Either way, we know for sure that getting adequate sleep can help the body in many different ways, so let's look at different ways to help support good sleep.
In my practice I start by looking at each individual's "sleep hygiene" before digging deeper into chemical imbalances that may be affecting proper neurotransmitter function. "Sleep hygiene" simply means setting yourself up for sleep success every night.
The word hygiene implies cleanliness but includes creating optimal conditions. Both are important for good sleep. Consider these points for good sleep hygiene:
Try not eat or drink two hours prior to bedtime. If you have a known blood sugar imbalance, you may want to have a healthy snack of whole-grains with a good fat to slow the glucose processing.
Only do light exercise such as stretching her tai chi before bed.
Limit your exposure to bright lights at least one hour prior to going to sleep. This means no screen time of any kind!
Take 20 to 30 minutes of quiet reflective time prior to getting into bed. This will give your mind time to get it's "chatter" out, so it's not doing it while you're trying to go to sleep.
Black out the room or wear an eye mask to block light. The stimulates the body to produce melatonin which is supportive of the sleep process.
Set a personal intention to awaken at an exact time each morning. You'll be surprised how accurate your mind is at keeping track of time. Alarm clocks are optional in my opinion!
If you don't start sleeping better within three weeks by consistently trying these simple sleep hygiene tips, it may be time to give me a call to dig deeper into the issues keeping you awake.
In my practice you can expect to look deeper into nutritional imbalances, neuro-emotional imbalances and neuro-chemical imbalances, all of which play important roles in healthy sleep.
Most often these imbalances can be corrected using specific nutritional supplementation, counseling, and herbal medicine as primary interventions.
If you would like to learn more send me an email or give me a call.