Sleeping difficulties are much more common today in our country, than they were even 50 years ago. According to Right Diagnosis over 40 million Americans (which amounts to 1 in every 6 people) suffer from some form of sleep disorder. Sleep disorders are defined as any disorder that effects ones sleep. There are many types of sleep disorders including: insomnia, sleep apnea, chronic fatigue syndrome, narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, Angelman Syndrome, snoring and restless leg syndrome.
There are many reasons behind our sleeping difficulties. Some are medical in nature such as depression, menopause and autoimmune disorders. Others are more lifestyle related and range from shift work, jet lag, stress, ecessive screen use, lack of physical activity, alcohol consumption, too much caffeine, feeding a newborn, drug consumption (illegal and prescription), to being overscheduled.
The good news is there are many ways to naturally get a better night’s sleep. Most adults need an average of 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. There are many health benefits obtained from sleep including: heart health, stress reduction, memory improvement, body reparation, body weight regulation, and reduction of diseases such as diabetes and mood disorders. So for those of us who feel we don’t have the time to devote to a proper night’s sleep; we better think again!
Ways to get a good night’s sleep:
* Improve your Sleep Environment – Your bedroom should be peaceful. Avoid noise (especially a t.v.), and if necessary wear ear plugs. Some people prefer to listen to a sleep machine or a fan and obtain a constant noise versus blocking out sounds.
* Purchase a quality Bed and Bedding – Bed frames, mattresses, pillows and pajamas all matter. Chiropractors are experts at recommending good mattresses and pillows, if you feel you need advice.
* Keep your room Dark – Your body has an internal clock which is “set” by illumination. Sleep in total darkness if at all possible. The darkness triggers the release of the hormone Melatonin, which in turn, triggers your body’s need for sleep. In the morning, the sunlight resets your body clock and suppresses Melatonin, preparing you for the day ahead. Sleeping with the lights on can impact this delicate process. It may be helpful to adorn your bedroom with Total Darkness Blinds.
* Regulate Room Temperature – Studies have found that the optimal sleep temperature is in the range of 60 – 68 degrees according to the New York Times. A decrease in your body’s core temperature leads to increased sleepiness.
* Dietary Factors – Avoid caffeine altogether, or specifically after 3:00 in the afternoon. Limit alcohol consumption to a single glass of red wine per night. Some people are sensitive to MSG, and should steer clear of foods containing this additive. There is recent data suggesting a low carb lifestyle also promotes better sleep. Vary your diet including fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins and dairy. Make breakfast your biggest meal of the day, and scale down from there. Drink plenty of water throught the day, but avoid drinking after dinner to avoid nighttime bathroom visits.
* Exercise Regularly – Moderate exercise for 30 minutes at least 5 days per week will enhance your sleep. Some finding suggest interval training or more rigorous workouts will further improve sleep. It is best to workout in the morning for your sleep cycle.
* Establish a Sleep Schedule – Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day if possible. If you need a nap, take it no later than early afternoon and for no longer than 30 minutes. If you nap for a longer period, your body lapses into a deeper phase of sleep, which can leave you feeling groggy. If you know you will be up late, it may help to take a nap that day to avoid a sleep deficit.
If you follow all of these guidelines and are still unable to get a proper night’s sleep, you may want to seek the advice of a health care professional. Chiropractors care will ensure your body is properly aligned, allowing for comfortable sleep. They can also offer advice on the best mattress and pillow. In addition, they can make recommendations on supplements that may enhance your sleep such as magnesium and melatonin, and also offer exercise and nutrition advice. Visiting your local chiropractor is an excellent place to go for sleep solutions.
Author: Michelle Caron