When Sleep Eludes Us…
It can feel like an impossible situation when you are suffering from insomnia. At 2:00am you check the clock for what feels like the 100th time, you sigh and roll over. You can already tell that tomorrow is going to be a difficult day.
A vicious and debilitating cycle can emerge;
I can’t sleep,
So I can’t function during the day,
So I can’t sleep.
This common health issue affects over 3 million people each year in the U.S. according to the Mayo Clinic. Plus the older we are, the more likely we are to suffer from insomnia and lack of proper sleep.
With a few small changes to your lifestyle, even the most difficult cases of insomnia can improve.
What’s in a good night’s rest?
Sleep has a profound effect on your health and wellness. When you are getting enough you can feel healthy, alert, well rested, and ready to go as each new day begins. However, when you aren’t getting enough uninterrupted sleep your quality of life can deteriorate rapidly.
Lack of sleep can cause some serious problems:
• Mental Fogginess
• Lack of Productivity
• Emotional Imbalance
• Inability to Handle Stress
• Lack of Energy
• And Even Weight Gain
At times, not getting a good night’s sleep can even affect people who don’t normally have sleeping issues. But there are definitely some common causes - stress, worry, life changes, seasonal changes, and overworking can all lead to bouts of insomnia.
How To Break The Sleepless Cycle
1. Set A Schedule
Finding your natural circadian rhythm can go a long way to making sure you get the right amount of consistent restful sleep. Generally speaking, adults need around 7-9 hours of sleep each night. By creating a scheduled time to go to bed (and to wake up), you can ensure that your body begins to fall into a good sleep routine. Choose an appropriate time to go to bed every single night and make sure that you wake around the same time every day (even on weekends).
You can also use sleep apps to help to track how much sleep is ideal for you. A great app to set up and monitor your sleep schedule is Sleep Cycle.
2. Improve Your Sleep Environment.
Making sure that your bedroom is designed around getting a good night’s rest. Devices that can disturb rest such as; televisions, computers, bright lights and electronics especially on or near your bed, should be omitted from your sleep space. This may mean moving your alarm clock from the nightstand to the other side of the room.
Designing your bedroom with sleep in mind can also be beneficial. Add calm colors schemes like blues and greens to promote relaxation. You can employ heavy drapes to block out lights and add a white noise machine if you notice that excess lights and sounds are an issue.
It can also be beneficial to keep your bedroom slightly cooler. Having a cooler sleeping environment (around 65 degrees) is shown to encourage deeper sleep for most people.
People that exercise during the day tend to sleep much better. While adding in a vigorous daytime exercise routine has the greatest benefit, even brisk walking for just 10 minutes a day has shown an improvement in peoples’ sleep. Be careful of intense exercise around bedtime as this can have the opposite effect, making sleep difficult. If you plan on exercising within 3 hours of your bedtime choose a more relaxing and meditative form of exercise; such as yoga or gentle stretching.
4. Eating Well
Diet can play an important role in how well we sleep. Some foods such as; caffeine, refined sugar, processed and fatty foods (especially in the evening), can prevent a good night’s sleep. Instead, choose a diet high in nutrients - lots of fresh fruits and veggies, small amounts of meat, whole grains, herbal teas, etc. If you are the type of person who needs to eat before bed try to make sure you have some satisfying, healthy options.
Keeping a food diary can help you identify foods that are affecting your sleep in both positive and negative ways. I happen to like this particular app for tracking my food intake.
5. Sleep Rituals
Having techniques that you regularly use that help you get to sleep (or get back to sleep) can be very empowering. Here are three methods that are easy and help induce deep sleep:
Deep Breathing - Close your eyes and take deep, even breaths trying to make them as long and as full as possible. If you have trouble quieting your mind at bedtime you can count your breaths to give your brain a peaceful distraction.
Visualization - Close your eyes and imagine your favorite place for relaxing - this could be laying on a beach in Hawaii or floating on your back in a lake at one of your favorite mountain getaways. The trick here is - it needs to be a place that you feel induces relaxation for you. You can picture seeing that place in your mind and then add to the picture with how it would smell, feel, and sound.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation - This technique can be very beneficial for relaxing a restless or tense body. Starting from your toes and working up to your head focus on one body part at a time. As you connect to each area of your body - in your mind say “my *body part* is becoming heavy, it is relaxing completely”. Keep doing this moving up the body until you reach your head.
FYI, I never make it to my head before I fall asleep!
6. Regular Massage
Massage is a fantastic way to reduce stress and tension, calm the nervous system, and encourage your mind and body to restfulness. This can be a very powerful way to break negative sleeping habits, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed and unable to break the cycle yourself.
When you come in for a massage at our center, we consult with you about what is needed to improve the quality of life and all aspects of your health and wellness. If sleeping is a concern, then we will create a massage routine that is specifically meant to address that issue. We can also make lifestyle recommendations and give you resources that can help you as well.
If you need help improving the quality of your life with sleep or with any other health issue - let us help you.
Book a consultation and massage session with me here.