Sleep is when your body repairs damage, replenishes stores of nutrients and recovers from the stress of the day. Without adequate sleep our ability to heal, nourish and recover falter resulting in chronic illness. Interestingly, changes in our sleep are also early signs that we are experiencing ongoing physical or psychological stress. One step in helping our body manage stress better is to re-establish healthy sleep habits. You may not be able to force yourself to sleep, but you can set yourself up for a better night’s rest by practicing these tips:
Get up early and get outside – early natural light exposure increases cortisol at the time when it should be going up – so it can go down naturally later.
Excessive caffeine, or drinking caffeinated drinks late into the morning or afternoon can squash your ability to sleep. Cut back a little at a time over a week if you find you are over-consuming.
Drink water – about half your body weight (in ounces) before 5pm. (150lbs = 2.5L/day).
Exercise – High intensity exercise is best done earlier in the day, if you are nearing evening opt for a lower intensity longer duration workout to help prepare you to sleep.
Wind down in the afternoon with a walk instead of a drink. Alcohol disrupts sleep making you feel less-rested the next morning.
Set the mood – dim the overhead lights 2-3 hours before bed. Reducing light exposure allows cortisol to decrease and the sleep hormone melatonin to increase.
Eat a small meal 2 hours or more, before bed. Go to bed satisfied but not overfull.
Ditch the screens. One hour before bed turn off the T.V., computer, tablet, smartphone. Both the light emitted and the stimulating effects of using these devices counteracts a restful night’s sleep.
Create an ideal sleep environment – a cool bedroom temperature about 69 degrees, darken out the windows, decrease outside noise or use a white noise maker.
Waking at night is common with age or with children. If you wake, keep the lights dim and screens off. To help yourself fall asleep again practice relaxation techniques like square breathing – Breathe in for 4 counts, hold 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts and hold for 4 counts.
Most adults function best with 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, teens need 9 to 10 and children 10-11 hours. Chronic sleep disruption, or persisting daytime tiredness can be a symptom of underlying health issues. Inadequate sleep affects your ability to think clearly, manage stress, make decisions as well as increases your risk for accidents and many health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and depression.
At the Centre of Health, our medical providers offer a new perspective on treating sleep disruption by finding underlying causes, instead of simply treating the symptoms. We support you by teaching you how to modify lifestyle patterns for sleep, nutrition, relationships, movement and coping with stress to find lifelong wellness.
Learn more at www.thecentrehealth.com.