A lot of my clients tell me they either wake up several times during the night or have problems falling asleep. A good night’s sleep is essential if you are to function properly the next day however there may be many reasons why this does not happen. Some reasons may be a bit beyond our control like a sick child or the baby crying but these should only be temporary.
Education on sleep can help us help our children if they have bad sleep routines and there are many places to get help. If on the other hand you are visiting the bathroom a few times a night, especially if you are male, you should consult your natural therapist and look into the reasons. The risk of prostate cancer increases as men get older, especially in Australia. It is important to keep up your zinc levels.
A good night’s sleep is as essential for well-being as food and water and some experts believe that sleep is critical for memory consolidation and information processing in the brain as well as optimal functioning of the immune system.
It is not true that older people need less sleep. Seven to eight hours of sleep is normally need by most people to function well although some may need less and some more. As we get older we need the same amount of sleep although the pattern of our sleep changes.
Poor sleep can impair our alertness, concentration and memory. It is normal that temporary sleeplessness due to stress, illness, or changes in the environment affect many people but for some the problems don’t go away. This is called ‘conditioned’ or ‘learned’ insomnia and often it is their bedtime routine that triggers it.
Sleep problems may also be a symptom of disorders such as depression or can be a side effect of medication. Talk to your practitioner if you notice changes in your sleep pattern that persist for more than a few weeks. These changes could be trouble falling asleep, waking up during the night or waking too early in the morning.
If you want to sleep well it is important to have a healthy, balanced routine. Exercise regularly, but not within a few hours of bedtime, eat a balanced diet, don’t eat heavy meals before bedtime and don’t have coffee or caffeine drinks, nicotine or alcohol in the afternoon or evenings.
It is important to go to sleep at a similar time each night and to wake similar times to get into a routine. Make sure you open the curtains and let the sun in and don’t lie in bed too long in the morning.
When you go to sleep make sure you are not distracted by noise and that you feel safe, especially if you live alone. Also make sure you are not too hot or too cold as this will also keep you awake. If you have allergies, a cold or sinus get it treated and if you snore don’t sleep on your back. Help is available for people who snore or who have sleep apnea such as nose devices or machines. If you have problems in this area follow it up with your practitioner.
Often one of those triangular pillows on top of your normal pillow can be comforting for less complicated sleep problems. Also a rubber pillow on an incline can be good if you have neck or back problems.
The type of bed can also make a difference. Often slat base futon beds with thin cotton mattresses can alleviate aches and pains whereas a soft mattress which is too old will only exacerbate the problem.
It’s not a good idea to read, talk or watch TV in bed as it sets up a pattern that the bed is for other things than sleeping. Well, it may be for one or two other things… but not the ones in the above list. Bed is not the place to think about your schedule tomorrow or to worry and if you find you are tossing and turning too much then don’t just lie in bed. Get up and do something until you feel tired. A warm glass of milk and the infomercials are usually enough to get you nodding off on the couch.
Supplements that can help with sleep are Valerian and Melatonin. Both are available at your health food store but I would only advocate these as a last resort. There are many other natural supplements you can get to assist. Start by drinking Chamomile tea which is a great relaxer, take a nice hot shower or bubble bath and practice some deep breathing or relaxation technique. I suggest a meditation cd. Put the buds from the player in your ears so as not to disturb your partner and if you fall asleep before the cd is finished, well and good. The more you practice the better you will get.
Eat well, exercise, sleep well, take time out to relax and work smart and see how fast your life will improve.