by Denise H
Consider “sleep” …What is sleep? What good is it? Why is it important? How can I help myself to get adequate amounts? Am I doing the things for me to get the restorative rest I require? Are there relatively safe things I can do, to assist when I have a wakeful night? What am I doing to sabotage healthy sleep habits?
These are the things I have been struggling with for some time. I had many things that break the rule of good restorative sleep. Some of those things were beyond my control. Since my responsibilities have changed, I no longer have an excuse for sitting up late, drinking coffee late at night, and remaining awake until zero-dark thirty! Now is the time, for me to make changes to reduce the stress, and restore my health. This is a journey, and mine is not complete, but I am making headway and you can as well.
I found have found several tips that have begun to help me. Evaluate your life and see if they could help you.
In general, I found if a sleep issue is still bothering you, after one month, you should see a Dr./ PCP. It could be a symptom (of an illness) OR a side effect of a medication. An occasional night of “late wakefulness” is not something to stress over, but adds to your overall stress and health issue flares.
Proper sleep is necessary for our health and safety, and for the sanity of those who care for us.
There are many things that can interfere with restful sleep…including the medical issues of restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea. If you believe you have one of these things, go get it treated to start things off.. and apply these tips to help set you up for sleep success.
Tips: In no particular order……General… with specific notes.
1. MAKE SLEEP A PRIORITY. How?
- Set a specific time for sleep and wakefulness.
- Go to a quiet place for meditation, and/or quiet reading with reduced light stimulation. Turn the lit clock dial away, turn off/ block the light from all electronics. Reduce electronics at least one hour before bedtime. The light at night prevents the body’s natural release/production of Melatonin that regulates sleep cycles.
- Avoid all stressful things just before sleep.
- When you awake, get out in the bright light as soon as possible. The bright light stimulates the melatonin production which regulates sleep cycles.
- Get a quality mattress and pillow. Put good covers on the mattress, box springs, and pillow to reduce allergens.
- Limit bed sharing to your spouse…not children or fur children.
2. CONTROL DIET. What? How? When?
- Limit caffeine, allow at least 6 hours before bedtime…
- Reduce sugars and chocolate during this time, too
- Stop most liquid intake at least three hours before bed…if it goes in, it will come out even if it is in the middle of your sleep time.
- Generally, Night meal should be lightest, with fewer spices, for ease of digestion.
- Reduce alcohol use. Even tho you may be initially sleepy after ingestion, it can disturb your ability to remain asleep.
- Seek natural foods or fluids to enhance your sleep cycle.
3. UN-WIND … after your routine day.
- Take time for meditation/ evaluation.. soon after you get home, then put your work away…
- Do some kind of exercise, change it up!
- Enjoy your companions, whether 2 or four-footed
- Avoid afternoon naps, in any case, limit to 20 min max.
4. SET A SOOTHING BEDTIME routine…It could include…
- Reading time
- a favorite calming tea with a light snack
- Cuddle (or more,) time with your sweetie
- Special night-time routine with your child
- A calming bath
- Reduce outside noises. This can be done by turning off a dripping faucet or wearing earplugs.
- Use white noise, if sleep still an issue… a wind machine, low calming music …whatever you find calming
NOTE: Of course, bedtime medications and regular nutrition for management of medical conditions are exempted from this rule. Some persons must eat at night to maintain blood sugar levels, or to maintain hydration in the case of extremely small capacities. If you are in trouble see your DR. These are general guidelines, garnered through observation and assimilation of varied materials.
POSSIBLE SLEEP SOLUTIONS… Common remedies for the occasional night of late wakefulness.
List… is in no particular order, some with a rationale…
- Certain foods…that boost tryptophan/ one of sleep hormones… like turkey.
- Foods high in carbs, like whole grain crackers…
- Foods high in B6… wheat grain, sunflower seeds, Bananas
- Foods high in Magnesium and calcium
- Herbal teas: There are some commercially prepared…Two of those are called Sleepytime and Sleepytime extra. common ingredients are chamomile, passion-flower and/or Valerian.
These are all available as separate herbs, but use them with caution. …IF you are unsure of your response to them.. ex…Valerian works well for some people with no adverse effects, but I have a poor tolerance to it…it produces sleep very well, for too long with me!! The amount in the Sleepytime extra is minimal because I do well with it.
If you are in doubt, Here is MY solution, brew it for a shorter time, (3-5 min.) in a whole cup of water. Drink half, for the first serving..if still awake after an hour, drink the rest..
- These include but are not limited to Valerian, chamomile, passion-flower, holy basil, L-Theanine, 5 HTP. Chamomile tea is also very soothing to the intestines, so is a good choice, when I just feel yucky.
- A warm bath with Epsom salts could have a profound effect as it is high in magnesium. Magnesium and Calcium supplements assist in all kinds of muscle issues that often make us, just uncomfortable enough, to not be able to go over into dreamland.
- Vitamin supplements with vitamin D3, B- supplements and specifically Niacin.. these should be taken routinely during the morning, especially the Vitamin B, as a dose can provide an energy boost. Gastric acids destroy much of the dietary B vitamins, so sublingual are the preferred method.
- There are OTC herbals and sleep supplements to boost your sleep routine into a set pattern…they are many and varied…if you do not get satisfaction from one, there are many… Do your due diligence.
C. AROMATHERAPY Aromatherapy is very simple and inexpensive. It is practiced by placing a soothing fragrance on a cotton ball, sniffing it a couple of times and laying it near your pillow. Some common products used for this are Lavender, Clary sage and Roman Chamomile oil.
D. MEDICATIONS There are OTC meds for the occasional night, if nothing else has worked Pharma has given us anti-histamine and they do make most people sleepy, Benadryl is in most of the OTC sleep preparations. When these are not effective it is time to see a Medical professional… to check for underlying conditions and medication side effects. It could take some time and testing many products to find one that you tolerate. Do not despair, there is something that can help you to find a night of peaceful rest.
E. OTHERS. There are several other things that can be done for sleeplessness. Many of these I have explored briefly. I will mention them briefly, with and without comments.
Meditation… Calm thoughts, dwelling on meditative readings such as the Word of God..can take you away from the cares of the world and direct attention to things most important in life. This would include Prayer.
Hypnosis can be done alone, with training… I used this for childbirth with success. It can be applied to whatever area of your life you choose. I was trained, for that purpose by a licensed psychologist. Had not considered putting that to use for this until studying this subject.
Light Therapy… Light in the morning, when too low, affects sleep hormones that are released at night. Lack of proper light in early evening can have a similar result. A sleep log and weather/light log can be kept to help a healthcare professional work you through needs. There are broad-spectrum light bulbs that help some people through seasonal disorders. Those same bulbs are not expensive and could help here too if appropriate.
Acupuncture… I have not and AM not exploring needles in any form, but it has a history of working for some people and for some things…I just am not desperate enough!
Traditional Indian and Chinese Medicine practices, I know nothing about these, but they care for large populations of people with basic herbs and compounds and have for many centuries, so I am not knocking them.
Common sense notes, and thoughts…
- I try to limit my use of even herbals to no more than two nights a week. The rest of the time I use the other methods to limit my sleep disruptions.
- Try to go to bed with a clear mind, this is one of the benefits of doing what you can where you are and leaving the rest to a loving Creator.
- Most common sleep issues can be addressed without medications. In general, they can create a bigger monster and produce their own side effects
- If you are having sleep issues… frequently.. a health check is in order to determine any underlying issues and treat them.
Note: Nothing in this article should be perceived or taken as “medical advice”, this information is presented here for informational purposes only. If you have any reacquiring sleep issues please consult a certified medical professional for treatment.
Please share your tips for getting a good nights sleep in the comments section below this article… thank you.
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