Friday, May 22, 2015

4 Steps to Better Sleep

Having trouble getting a good night's sleep?  You’re not alone.  Getting a good night's sleep is a problem for millions of Americans, including me.  I have bouts of insomnia, periods of 3-4 nights with difficulty staying asleep. Anyone at any age can experience sleeplessness due to stress and anxiety, pain, shifting work schedules, and life changes. Getting adequate sleep is important for physical and mental restoration each day. Lack of sufficient sleep can result in fatigue, mood swings, stress, and a higher probability of getting sick. Here are 4 steps to help you get a better night’s sleep.

Manage Stress. Stress is a common contributor to insomnia and sleep disturbance. Manage stress naturally by supporting nerve health with B vitamins and herbs like passionflower or chamomile. Try yoga or deep breathing exercises in the evening to calm the body and mind.

Create Comfort. Take a nice soaking bath to relax your body and soothe any aches and pains. Utilize natural and herbal remedies to soothe any muscle pains prior to sleep. Make sure your bed and bedroom are comfortable - a cool, dark room helps support sleep. Aromatherapy can also help create an atmosphere of calm. Try 1-2 drops of lavender or clary sage on your pillow case, or on a tissue tucked inside your pillow case.

Try Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the body that regulates the body’s circadian rhythm, its sleep and wake cycles. Melatonin levels decline significantly after the age of 40, which scientists believe may be responsible for sleep problems that increase with age. Start with a 1 mg dose for a few nights to see if that is sufficient. You can take up to 5 mg nightly, but anything higher should be prescribed by a health care provider. If you have trouble with nighttime waking, like I do, go for a sustained-release melatonin. I use a 3 mg sustained release, and it has really made a difference in helping me sleep through the night.

Utilize Herbs. Valerian has been shown in studies to help improve the quality of sleep, reduce the length of time it takes to fall asleep, and reduce the number of awakenings throughout the night. Valerian can be used by itself or in conjunction with herbal nervines that nourish and calm the nerves such as hops, passionflower and chamomile. These act on the body naturally, without the unwanted side effects common to prescription and over-the-counter sleep medicines.