Restorative sleep is very important for good health and vitality. Our bodies detoxify and do repair work while we’re asleep. It’s OK to have the odd night’s poor sleep, but if it’s an ongoing issue for you, it can cause fatigue, worsen pain, make it difficult to lose weight and worsen general health.
1. Keep your body clock tuned in to the day/night cycle by being outside for at least 15 minutes when the sun is low in the sky in the mornings and afternoons. If you can’t do this (eg shift worker) the herb Chaste Tree will help your sleep.
2. If you feel wide awake at night and tired in the morning, you probably have an altered cortisol rhythm (a sign of excess stress). Use herbs to correct this – Withania, Skullcap and B vitamins in the daytime and a herbal combination called NeuroSom in the evening.
3. Reduce 24 hour hyperarousal, a major cause of insomnia. Make a daily practice of doing a Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercise (pick up a copy at Sunshine Health) or get into yoga or meditation. Go to whatmeditionreallyis.com and click on Dare To Meditate for a simple explanation of what to do.
4. Do physical activity. Lack of activity causes insomnia and studies show that 30 mins of cardio exercise daily improves it.
5. If overweight, get onto a healthy weight loss program (low carb, protein at each meal, healthy oils, detoxify if needed, exercise). See Cameron, Mylinda or Michelle at Sunshine Health for help with this. Being overweight contributes to insomnia and vice versa, so we need to break the vicious cycle.
6. Use minerals to help you sleep. If you get to sleep OK, but wake in the night, have restless or unrefreshing sleep or muscle tension or cramps, you’re probably low in magnesium. See our story on Magnesium. If you have trouble getting to sleep, you may be low in calcium. You need calcium + magnesium in the ratio 2:1 in the evening.
7. Use safe, proven herbs to improve sleep quantity and quality. Valerian, Hops, Passionflower, Kava, Zizyphus and Magnolia at therapeutic doses have been shown to improve sleep. Cameron, Mylinda or Michelle can help you with these. Medications for insomnia often don’t improve sleep quality and have the potential to induce addiction, withdrawal symptoms or rebound insomnia.
8. Develop good ‘Sleep Hygiene’ habits. In the evenings, turn off the TV, computer, mobile phone, dim the lights and wind down. Do quiet, gentle activities like talking, reading or listening to pleasant music. Go to bed when you feel sleepy; avoid pushing past this feeling.
9. Consider Hypnotherapy & NLP (see Mylinda) for help in changing your fears, anxieties and not-so-good sleep patterns.
Using these tips will improve your sleep. If you need more in-depth assistance, make an appointment with Cameron, Mylinda or Michelle at Sunshine Health, phone 5483 7688.