Why Your Body Loves Sleep
Are you spending too many nights staying up watching the clock or waking up frequently during the night and not being able to fall back asleep? Do you struggle to fall asleep and rely on alcohol or sleeping pills to fall asleep, although you feel exhausted?
Or do you get decent amount of sleep and still feel exhausted and suffer from daytime drowsiness and have difficulty concentrating?
These are signs and symptoms of insomnia. Insomnia is not only defined as the inability to sleep, but it’s also defined by the quality of sleep an individual is getting.
The key is insomnia of in itself is a symptom of an underlying health concern and not a disorder. Therefore, the focus needs to be on treating the insomnia, while determining the root cause of the sleep disturbances in the first place.
I work with many patients who are frustrated with their sleep disturbances, may it either be falling asleep or staying asleep through the night or getting back to sleep.
There are many factors, which can cause insomnia- ranging from stress, anxiety, depression, certain medications, hormonal imbalances and simple blood sugar imbalances. Just to name a few causes. As a Naturopathic doctors, we investigate for the underlying causal factor.
Stress can cause insomnia– during periods of high stress the body may get overstimulated. This over stimulation may last until the night; as a result, your mind doesn’t turn off. At this point your mind is like a hamster running on a hamster wheel. This body hyperstimulation is due to the adrenal glands being overstimulated, and releasing cortisol into the bloodstream. Consequently, individuals cannot sleep. To help restore my patients sleep, I work with individuals to manage stress through breathing techniques, meditation and general lifestyle counselling. In addition, I use various herbs and/or nutritional supplements to help calm the adrenal glands down.
Blood Sugar Imbalances- Easy fix, but an overlooked causal factor for insomnia. Individuals may frequently wake up during the night as their blood sugar levels drop at night. The key is balancing blood sugar levels throughout the day. I devise individualistic food plans for patients that both suit their needs and help balance their blood sugar levels. Added bonus my patients are sleeping throughout the night and waking feeling refreshed!
Here are couple of things everyone can do to help balance their blood sugar levels:
- For breakfast have higher amounts of protein and not too many carbohydrates.
- Try having protein in every meal.
- Have a small protein snack before bed.
Unchecked hormones can wreak havoc on one’s system- Just think about musicians and/or athletes if they either acts without any rhyme or reason the end result usually is Disaster! Hormones behave similarly- they are the main communicators of our bodies, hormones tell our cells what they need to do. For example, hotflashes are experienced by many women as they journey through their menopausal years. These hotflashes may wake women up at night or not allow for them to fall asleep in the first place. The root cause of the hotflashes are hormonal imbalances. Naturopathic medicine is able to address hormonal imbalances through herbal remedies, nutritional support and lifestyle counselling. And Viola sleep is restored!
I have only mentioned a few causal factors of sleep disturbances. Naturopathic doctors are great at finding the underlying issue and addressing it naturally so you can get the much needed sleep and feel refreshed the next morning!
Effective strategies for improving sleep quality
- Make your bedroom quiet, comfortable and DARK.
- No glowing screens 1 hour before bedtime.
- Be in bed no later than 10 – 11pm.
- Reserve the bedroom for sleep and sexual activity.
- Have a little snack before bedtime, but avoid large meals just before bedtime
- Aim for 7-9 hours every night
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule – even on weekends.
- Exercise daily, but avoid exercise late in the evening close to bedtime.
- Do something relaxing and enjoyable before bedtime.
- If you cannot sleep within 15 to 20 minutes, get up and go to another room to read or do something relaxing. Return to bed only when drowsy.
- Remove the clock from eyesight.
- Reduce alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine use.
- If waking in the night to urinate is an issue, avoid fluids after 6pm