World Sleep Day 2016 is March 18. The day is intended to raise awareness of sleep disorders and the importance of good sleep. This year’s sleep day slogan is “Good Sleep is a Reachable Dream”.
If you’ve ever had trouble sleeping, you’re probably familiar with the irritability, lack of energy, and inability to focus that plagues the next day, even after just one night of troubled sleep. What you may know is that long-term insomnia can increase your risk of developing diabetes and hypertension, can lower your immune response, and can even take years off your life. Insomnia is most often the result of stress, but can have many other causes, including depression, pain, mineral deficiency, and restless legs.
The average person spends about a third of their lives sleeping. There’s a lot that is still unknown about what happens in the brain while we sleep, but sleep is the time when the body repairs and recharges itself and regulates hormone levels. What we do know is that sleep is essential, and without good sleep, it becomes harder and harder to function.
While there are plenty of medications to help you sleep, these can have unwanted side effects, including morning grogginess and dependency. So what can you do to get a better night’s sleep?
- Beware of drugs, including caffeine, which can keep you awake. Avoid drinking coffee, soda, or other caffeinated beverages after about lunchtime.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal within 3-4 hours of going to bed. That said; don’t go to bed hungry, either. Try a light snack an hour or so before bed.
- Establish a regular sleep schedule. Get up at the same time every morning, even after a rough night. Sleeping in will only throw off your schedule and make it hard to fall asleep the following night.
- Turn off the TV, computer, and other electronic devices at least a half-hour before bed. The light from these devices can interfere with the release of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep. Better yet, make your bedroom a sleep zone and keep the electronics out of the bedroom entirely.
- Establish a bedtime routine. Doing the same thing before bed every night signals your brain and body that it’s time to wind down and sleep.
- Try a warm bath with a bit of lavender oil to help you relax.
- Guided meditation, visualization, or progressive relaxation can help guide you into sleep.
- If you don’t fall asleep within 20-30 minutes, get up for a little while. Stressing over sleep will only make the problem worse. Keep the lights low and the electronics off. If stress is causing your insomnia, try journaling to get some of those thoughts out of your head.
If the above strategies still don’t get you a good night’s sleep, There are several natural approaches that may help, including:
- Chiropractic care can help restore balance and improve blood flow and nervous system communication to help you relax and get the rest you need.
- A naturopath can help you determine the exact cause of your insomnia and recommend a supplement, herbal remedy, or other solution to address the underlying cause of your troubles, so you can sleep.
- Acupuncture can help improve the flow of vital energy, known as qi (pronounce chee). Qi is made up of two opposing forces, yin and yang. Good health depends on good flow of qi as well as a balance between yin and yang. Any blockage or imbalance can lead to illness and disease.