Posted by: Suzan | August 27, 2020

Sleep Well – It Can Make Your Day

What makes your day? If you’re anything like me, sleeping well the night before does. It shapes the energy I bring to all my activities, affects my mood, and even defines my level of productivity.

With the disturbing state of our world and the underlying anxiety you may be experiencing, either falling and/or returning to sleep could be more challenging. More than ever we need our precious sleep as a way to enhance our immune system.

According to The National Sleep Foundation, adults require 7-9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health and effectiveness. Operating on less than six hours of sleep a night on a consistent basis is like being drunk. It can affect one’s judgment, reaction time, mental alertness, and coordination.

Rob Stein of the Washington Post wrote that living in a 24-7 society deprives us of our sleep and ultimately, our health. Citing studies done by Harvard University, irregular sleep is being associated with obesity, and an increased risk for colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. “Lack of sleep disrupts every physiologic function in the body,” said Eve Van Cauter of the University of Chicago. “We have nothing in our biology that allows us to adapt to this behavior.”

Harvard’s Nurse’s Study, involving more than 82,000 nurses, found a relationship to increased risk of death among those who slept less than 6 hours per night during a week. To thrive, collapsing into a deep sleep for at least 7-9 hours on a regular basis is paramount.

If you’re having difficulty sleeping over a long-term basis and/or wake up feeling like you haven’t slept much at all, you might want to consider doing a sleep study. These are often done in a lab yet there is also portable equipment you can use at home to monitor this. You can check out Web M.D.’s information here:

Here are some tips from The National Sleep Foundation to help induce better sleep habits:

  • Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules, even on weekends
  • Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or listening to a soothing meditation or to music.  Begin an hour or more before the time you expect to fall asleep.
  • Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool. Ideally your bedroom temperature should be between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex (keep “sleep stealers” out of the bedroom – avoid watching TV, using a computer or reading in bed). I admit I sometimes read in bed and it helps me to doze off….
  • Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly during the day or at least a few hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol products close to bedtime and give up smoking.

Finally, having dealt with bouts of insomnia, I’ve personally experienced many ways to improve my sleep. Be sure to research this for yourself and make the best choices for your own body because everyone is different. Here are some ways to fall asleep (and stay asleep) which work best for me:

  • Since I’m extremely light sensitive I have black-out curtains. I also wear an eye mask. Also I’m sound sensitive so I wear earplugs to help block my husband’s snores or our neighbor playing his guitar.
  • Drink herbal tea a couple/few hours before bed. I prefer Chamomile.
  • Massage your feet with sesame oil.
  • Eat some nuts before bed (e.g. almond, Brazil nuts). Sometimes waking up in the middle of the night can be due to a blood sugar issue (which can involve the adrenal system and is more common with women in menopause).
  • Journal furiously. Unload your mind of anything which may be clogging it and keeping you awake. Do this late in the afternoon/early evening, not before bed. If I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep I do this then.
  • Sit in a massage chair if you have one for 15 – 30 minutes. Release all of your tension here. Alternatively you can put two tennis balls into an old sock or use a lacrosse ball as a roller to relieve stress in your shoulders, back, or anywhere else. You can do this on the floor or against a wall.
  • Count backwards from 100 slowly while focusing on your breath.
  • Practice yoga style breathing techniques. Breathe in for 4 counts; hold for 4 counts; and then exhale for 6 counts. Consider having a 1 word mantra to say over and over. Mine is So hum.(So is the sound of inhalation and Hum is exhalation – you could also say breathing in/breathing out and focus only on your breathe. So hum also means I am That in Hindi (e.g. I am one with the Universe and all of Creation). The use of a mantra can help divert the tangled thoughts competing for your attention.
  • My back/shoulder muscles are often taut. I lie on a heating pad before bedtime (for 15 minutes only) and it relaxes me.
  • Consider discussing adrenal support with your doctor. My naturopath creates a remedy for me to take twice daily. I also take Gemmo Ribes Nigrum by Unda. You may also want to look into your magnesium intake. Magnesium is calming and sometimes the reason people wake up in the middle of the night is due to a deficiency in magnesium. I take CALM (magnesium) daily.

When I cannot fall asleep which is rare nowadays, I take the following combination and within one hour am fast asleep:

  • Melatonin SR by Pure Encapsulations (2) and Life Seasons Rest ZZZ – Sleep Support (2). Please discuss this with your doctor first to see if it would be right for you.

Sleep well – It Can Make Your Day!

By: Suzan Tusson-McNeil, Expressive Arts Facilitator and Coach


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