by Mar Oscategui
Evaluate Your Lifestyle, Health History and Family History
There are so many forces that affect sleep and in order to get the root of the challenge we must first investigate the strongest forces that affect sleep in order to first rule those ’causes’ out. Rarely is there just one main ‘problem’ or factor, and more often than not there are many forces acting upon a family preventing them from getting good sleep. Evaluating your lifestyle, health and family history provide important details and clues that lead to discovering the root of your sleep challenge.
It is not uncommon to have trouble sleeping due to an overwhelming emotion like fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, grief, depression, excitement etc taking over. Give yourself permission to ask and receive support to workout these feelings, understand the root of them and not avoid or resist them.
Keep the room very dark. If you needs to get up to use the bathroom at night, rather than turning on bright lights, use a small night light just enough for you to see where you are going but yet maintain a relaxed state that is not over stimulating to the eye and sleep cycle.
Keep a journal and pen handy by your bedside. If you have trouble falling asleep because your mind is racing, or if you wakes up with too many thoughts and are unable to go back to sleep, consider doing some journaling before crawling into bed at night or when woken up at night to clear the mind so there is no residue.
Learn and work with calming breathing exercises that unwind your mind and relax your body.
Invite downtime. Welcome downtime on a daily basis where she can spend some time relaxing and letting go of stresses. Some examples of this include nature walks, yoga, meditation, journaling, massage, etc.
Establish a bedtime routine. Establish a bedtime routine and sleep as close as possible to 10pm. At 10pm, the body begins repairing and being awake slows this process.
Dim lights. Dim all lights, computer screens, smart phones at least an hour or two before bed. Install dimmer switches on lights where possible. Candle light is best for illuminating the house during the hours before bedtime, and many find it to be very relaxing.
Establish firm boundaries for bedtime. Make your bedroom a sanctuary for relaxation and sleep. Try not to work, watch television, or any other activity outside of sleep and sex.
Remove EMF’s. Remove any electromagnetic field (emf) equipment from your room as studies have shown prolonged exposure can suppress the immune system and disrupt sleep.
Evaluate Bedroom Air Quality
Your bedroom air quality may be affecting your sleep. Make sure your room is well ventilated and clear of air pollutants such as dust, air fresheners, pet dander, perfumes etc….
Get Natural Unfiltered Sunlight. Get natural unfiltered sunlight in your eyes first thing in the morning for at least fifteen minutes if you can. In the warmer months or in warmer climates get sunlight on a good portion of your skin in the morning as well. This will send a strong message to your pineal gland and your internal clock. It works wonders.
Adjust Temperature. Keep the temperature between 68 and 72 degrees.
Use a sleeping aid. Use sleeping aids like sleep pillows or a mattress topper for your comfort and support. Have a mattress, mattress topper, or sleeping pillow that is equipped to support your posture. Experiment with them to find the best one suitable for you.
Eat light meals before bed. Eat only light meals before bed and familiarize yourself with anti-sleep and pro-sleep foods in order to avoid sleep disruption and encourage deep sleep.
Try to eat foods that are more easily digested. Try to eat foods that are more easily digested, like blended foods and fruits with unprocessed fats, and keep your portion sizes small as you approach bed time.
Eliminate all stimulants from your diet–This includes caffeine, chocolate, and spices of all kinds. It is also critical to eliminate foods that are stimulating and irritating to the digestive system just by their very nature—foods like grains, beans, and dairy. This is even more essential late in the day. Grains also tend to bind with the cholesterol in your gut–cholesterol that is needed to produce sleep inducing hormones and other necessary cofactors. MSG is also something to avoid and it is hidden in all sorts of products nowadays under many different names. One should also be careful of taking vitamin supplements in the evening as they can have a stimulating effect, and in many cases they are like a chemistry experiment. It’s probably best to take them in the morning and early afternoon if possible.
Learn all you can about healthy blood sugar levels. Blood sugar has a huge impact on sleep quality.
Establish healthy gut flora. Something else to consider is your gut. It is important to establish healthy gut flora and then leave it alone. Many researchers are now strongly linking the cyclical die off of bacteria in the gut with sleep cycles.
Reduce stress by sleeping more, taking naps, or committing to engaging in a relaxing daily activity like yoga, meditation, journaling, art, nature walks, etc. Sleep helps to balance stress hormones. When feeling anxious and/or stressed, your nervous system causes physiological changes in your body. Adrenaline and the stress hormone, cortisol, release into your bloodstream, causing your body to react in a fight-or-flight response. As a result, your digestive system slows down, which prevents essential nutrients from being absorbed into your body. Your muscles become very tense, making it difficult to think clearly and relax.
Green your sleeping environment. Greening your sleep environment is essential to diminish the risks of toxic exposure which can compromise your immune system leading you at risk for a host of health issues. A few tips for Greening a Sleep Environment include: removing items such as products with fragrances, televisions, computers, and phones which emit electromagnetic fields known to affect sleep and immune system, leaving shoes at the door, using non-toxic cleaners, using indoor plants that clean the air, improving ventilation, and washing bed-sheets, linens, pillow cases, and pajamas with non-toxic laundry detergent.
Additional considerations about sleep
With our modern day culture and expectations, the average person today is juggling quite a bit and as a result experiencing an overwhelming amount of stimulation and stress. Incorporating some relaxation into your daily life is the perfect complement to healthy sleep and your overall health.
Sleep supports all the vital components of healthy human function and productivity. There is no better time than now to prepare and establish new sleep habits for healthy sleep.
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
This article is intended for informational purposes only. The purpose of this article is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of healthy sleep. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.