July 2006 – Sleeping Well
by Lisa Guyman
Tips for a Good Nights Sleep
It’s the heart of summertime and this can mean we have more energy for everything. And that’s great! But with our increased energy and all the summer activities available to us we may not take enough time for rest and may not get enough sleep. What compounds this even more is if we have difficulty sleeping in the first place.
One of the best books I’ve read on sleep is “Say Goodnight to Insomnia: The 6-Week Drug-Free Program developed at Harvard Medical School” by Gregg Jacobs. This is a complete program for improving your sleep. For myself I found the piece on switching ‘negative sleep thoughts’ to ‘neutral or positive ones’ very helpful. If sleeplessness is an issue for you, get this book. Also, check out Perfect Sleep by Deepak Chopra. Now, some Tips for Sleep:
Early to Bed – Our bodies do a majority of their recharging from 11PM to 1AM, especially the adrenal glands. So if we’re not sleeping during that time, fatigue begins to build. You might say, ‘but I’m a night person.’ But night people (myself included) are really a product of electricity and habit. Have you ever noticed if you’re camping (or on a vacation without TV, etc.) the tendency is to go to bed early and wake up early? So at least aim to go to bed earlier, ideally around 10PM.
Be Consistent & Get up Early– Have a regular bedtime and waking time. If you sleep in on the weekends, it throws off your internal clock and can make Sunday nights tricky.
Determine Your Needs – People need differing amounts of sleep. In Ayurveda, there are 3 primary constitutions and each one requires a different amount of sleep ranging from 6-9 hours.
Warm Your Feet – Believe it or not blood flow i.e. warmth in hands and feet is the best predictor of the body’s readiness for sleep (Mercola). So warm your feet and then put socks on and/or sleep with a hot water bottle by your feet.
Lights Out – Make your bedroom as dark as possible (i.e. no street light, nightlights, etc.). You may also want to wear an eye covering to keep out stray light. The reason this makes a difference is that even the tiniest bit of light can disrupt your circadian rhythm and your production of melatonin and serotonin. (http://mercola.com)
Exercise – (done preferably early in the day) impacts our body temperature and therefore helps us sleep better. But hot baths too close to bedtime impact our body temperature in a negative way and make it difficult to sleep.
Food and Drink – Refrain from eating and drinking a couple hours before bed. You may however want to have some chamomile tea or hot milk. Also check your supplements because a lack of calcium may be a problem.
Misc. Sleep Aids – Apply lavender essential oil to your feet (available at health food stores). You may also want to listen to sounds of nature, or a guided meditation CD. (A number of people have told me they use my CD to help them go to sleep).
Snoring?– If you are not waking well rested or you’ve been told you are a snoring machine, you may want to check with your Doctor to see if you have sleep apnea. If you do, then you may be waking up 100’s of times during the night. A sleep mask for apnea sufferers often does the trick.
Women in Their 40’s and 50’s Plus -You may want to see a natural medicine physician to address hormonal changes that may be interfering with sleep.
Enjoy the Summer, Have Fun and Sleep Well.