Sleep is so essential to good health, as it allows your body to rest, rejuvenate, heal and strengthen. Whilst we sleep our body does an amazing amount of work; repairing cells, detoxifying, building hormones etc. When we get a good night’s sleep it also means that we can perform at our best mentally, emotionally and physically.
How much sleep do we really need?
This has been a hotly debated topic, so luckily for us there is quite a lot of research out there on this topic. The ideal amount of sleep for 95% of adults has been shown to be somewhere between 7 and 9 hours a night. Having less than 8 hours has been proven to cause a decline in attention span, cognitive ability and motor skills. This slept debt has accumulative neurobiological costs, so the more sleep deprived you become the less able you are to concentrate, think efficiently and use your motor skills.
Insomnia and its causes
Insomnia is the inability to get a good night of quality restful sleep. There are a few different varieties of insomnia, and they include:
Sleep onset insomnia: this is where you have difficulty falling asleep.
Anxiety and tension are a common cause of sleep onset insomnia. These states arouse our nervous system and send it into overdrive, so we cannot physically wind down enough to rest.
Changes to your sleep environment, recent emotional events, physical pain or disruption in your environment can also cause sleep onset insomnia.
Sleep Maintenance insomnia: this is where you can fall asleep, but wake up during the night and often cannot return to sleep. This also includes early morning wakings.
Parasomnias can also occur: these are things that happen during sleep, but you are unaware of them at the time. Sleep walking, sleep eating, dressing, night terrors etc are all examples of parasomnias.
There are many different causes for insomnia, so it is important to get a thorough check up with your doctor to rule out any underlying conditions.
Some common causes include:
- Stress and anxiety
- Emotional stress
- Changes in your environment – new home, new housemate etc
- Overuse of stimulants such as coffee and energy drinks
- Recreational drugs
- Pharmaceutical medications
- A poor sleep hygiene routine
- Exercise in the hours before bed time
- Using technology to late in the evening – overstimulating your senses
If the cause of your insomnia is stress or emotions overwhelming you, addressing these issues will be an important part of your treatment plan.
Simple Ways to Nourish your sleep routine
1# Establish a relaxing sleep hygiene routine
Sleep hygiene is the routine we practice in the hour before bed. Often we have poor sleep hygiene habits, such as watching tv or computer in our bedrooms, having caffeine or stimulants in the evening, eating just before bed time or having bright lights on in the hour before bed. This hygiene pattern sets us up for poor sleep quality and potential insomnia. A healthy and relaxing sleep hygiene routine might look like this:
- Turn down your lighting in the hour before bed. Use soft lights like Himalayan salt lamps or table lamps to light your area.
- Have a warm bath or shower to calm and relax your mind and body
- Drink a soothing herbal tea such as chamomile or lavender as part of your winding down routine. Don’t have any caffeine after lunch time if you’re struggling with sleep
- Write in a journal or read a good book instead of overstimulating yourself with technology
- Put away all technology in the hour before bed time. No phone, tv or computers.
- Practice 5 minutes of deep breathing or meditation before you go to bed. This allows your mind to calm, and ignites the rest and relax portion of your nervous system.
Eating to close to bed time can stimulate your body and keep you awake as it tries to break down and digest your food. Giving yourself at least 2 hours of digesting time means your energy won’t be caught up in the digestive process when it comes time for bed.
3# Try exercising early in the day
Exercise causes an increase in cortisol, which is our stress hormone. This can keep you awake at night and wound up, especially if you’ve exercised after 6pm.
Here at Wholesome Chick Naturopathy I offer tailored treatment plans, and am experienced at helping you to overcome insomnia and stress related symptoms. If you'd like further information, please call me at the clinic on 0473 486 156.
Yours in health, love and light,