Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?
Try these strategies…
- Don’t stay in bed more than 20-30 minutes trying to fall asleep. Leave your bedroom and go to a relaxing room other than the bedroom and read or do a relaxation technique (e.g., meditation).
- Consider reading a good neutral book under low light to help with falling asleep.
- If using a tablet or phone for reading, make sure they are in the nighttime setting and brightness is as low as possible.
- If using a light, don’t use a table lamp. Instead use a HUD light or other small light that only illuminates the reading material.
- If you awaken early because of light, put a dark covering over your eyes.
- If you awaken early because of recurrent thoughts, try writing them in a journal. If this does not help, consider counseling. Depression might be a factor.
(The Institute for Functional Medicine)
…for Insomnia and Sleep Disorders
Mindfulness meditation can be defined as focusing awareness on each moment, including the environment, as well as physical and emotional sensations. It can assist with managing social relationships, economic concerns, and decision-making, as well as improving mental state.
It often uses either slow, intentional breathing or imagery to help to focus the thoughts. In clinical studies, practicing mindfulness and/or mindfulness meditation before bed has led to benefits including:
- Reduced insomnia
- Deeper sleep
- Fewer episodes of wakefulness during the night
- Improved mood and resilience
- Greater daytime energy
- Less anxiety
How to Get Started
- Select a quiet place where you can relax. Sit, stand, or lie down comfortably.
- Pay attention to the environment, listening to the sounds, smelling what is around you, and feeling the temperature of the room.
- Focus inward. Take several deep breaths, paying attention to how your body feels as you breathe. Let your eyes close as you become more relaxed.
- Scan your body and assess how you feel. Focus your awareness on the parts of your body that are tense or in pain. Breathe deeply and acknowledge the feeling, without judging it.
- If desired, you can imagine your body becoming heavier, more anchored to the earth.
- If you wish, you can visualize a location that makes you particularly happy. That could be a natural setting, a vacation spot you remember fondly, or a place where something good happened in your life.
- Let the thoughts flow. If you have anxious or worried thoughts, let each occurrence be an opportunity to observe the thought and let it go. Rather than fighting the thoughts, imagine standing still and letting the thoughts flow around you. Bring your attention back to your breath.
- If you are concerned about losing track of time, set a timer.
- Practice mindfulness meditation before you get ready for bed. Perhaps meditate before you brush your teeth, or after shutting off your phone or computer, or as you lie in bed ready to fall asleep. Make mindfulness meditation part of your routine.
(The Institute for Functional Medicine)
Why is sleep important?
Sleep Awareness Week – 11-18 March
So many people I see in clinic struggle with the effects of poor sleep. So, in aid of National Sleep Awareness Week this week, I want to talk to you about why a good sleep is so important and how you can go about getting it!
A good night’s sleep is as important to health as eating the right things and exercise. Your physical and emotional wellbeing depend on getting enough. Yet we’re living in sleep-deprived times. Some people are even competitive about how little sleep they’re getting, like dragging yourself through the day on four hours’ rest is a badge of honour. Scientists even say we’re now getting an hour or two less sleep each night than we were 60 years ago. And the effect on our bodies is not good.
The amount of sleep each person needs varies. Waking up feeling refreshed in the morning is a good indicator and so is being able to wake without an alarm. If you need an alarm to wake up, you are not getting enough sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, you may not be able to concentrate properly, and become irritable or agitated. You may also have blurred vision, be clumsy, become disorientated or slow to respond, and have decreased motivation. And, on top of that, if you’re tired and cranky, you are significantly less likely to make the best food choices.
You might be surprised to learn that, in a computer simulated driving test, those who had had just a few hours sleep were more dangerous on the (virtual) road than the people who had had a few drinks! In fact, the majority of road accidents are caused by tiredness.
The purpose of sleep is to rest and recover – and to allow the body to repair itself. These maintenance and repair processes take 7 to 9 hours. Adults need between 7 and 9 hours per night – regardless of what you think you have trained yourself to get by with.
But just how do you get a good night’s sleep? Join me tomorrow….
Health Benefits of Napping
Sleep Awareness Week and National Napping Day
Not only is this Sleep Awareness Week, but today is National Napping Day.
With the hectic pace of day-to-day life, many people don’t get the recommended amount of sleep each night.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults typically need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night
in order to function at their best. Getting a few less hours for even a few nights in a row can have the same effect as
staying awake for 24 hours straight. And, over time, chronic sleep debt can contribute to fatigue, increased stress levels, reduced attention span, and declined cognitive performance.
One way to combat the effects of sleep deprivation—and repay some sleep debt—is to incorporate daytime napping
into your schedule.
Now I LOVE a nap and I am gifted on the sleep front I confess. I can easily have an hour long nap on a Sunday afternoon and still sleep well at night. I know this is not the case for everyone. But naps don’t have to all be long to still have health benefits. Even just 20 minutes can help improve memory, alertness, and energy levels.