Sleep is usually where I start first with clients who come in needing a shift towards a more energized life.
You can eat well, exercise daily, meditate, and have great genes, and still not feel well if you are not getting enough sleep. On the flip side, you can have a lot to work on and not know where to start with it all.... I would propose you start here.
Sleep is when our cells truly restore themselves, the rest time allows our neurotransmitters to slow down, our muscles to be still, and our minds are free to release the constant stream of thoughts. Studies have shown that people who are chronically sleep deprived can have inattention, memory lapses, cognitive dysfunction and die earlier.
The dangers of sleep deprivation are very serious; the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) reports that one in every five serious motor vehicle injuries is related to driver fatigue, with 80,000 drivers falling asleep behind the wheel every day and 250,000 accidents every year related to sleep.
That being said, there are so many reasons that people are sleep deprived. Some are easier to change than others.
The most common cause of insomnia is change in routine. Travel, a change
in work hours, eating schedules, exercise and relationship conflicts may cause sleep problems.
Paying some attention to good sleep hygiene is probably the best thing that you can do to maintain good sleep.
Here are some do's and don'ts that can help you on your path to better sleep.
- try to go bed at the same time each day.
- try to get up from bed at the same time each day.
- Get regular exercise each day, preferably in the morning. There is good evidence that regular exercise improves restful sleep.
- Get regular exposure to outdoor or bright lights, especially in the late afternoon. Staying in touch with the rhythms of natural light helps your melatonin levels, the hormone that helps control sleep.
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortable or yourself, or on the cool side, and keep the bedroom quieter when sleeping. White noise can help with this if you live on a noisy street. I use the soundsof crickets and frogs chirping in my childrens' room, this is actually how humans have fallen asleep for ages before we had electricity
- Keep the bedroom dark to facilitate sleep (again this increases production of melatonin, the sleep hormone). Use a sleep patch if you need to if your room gets bright when the sun rises, or if you are travelling.
- Power down. I can't stress this one enough. The light that comes from the computer and TV screen can fool your body into feeling more energized for hours. Set a time to power down and stick to it, preferably at least an hour before you would like to go to bed. The pages of a book are dimmer and thus better, for your eyes and brain, than a computer screen before bed.
- Use your bed only for sleep and sex. Watching TV, talking on the phone, and using the computer while in bed will make it more difficult for you to associate your bed as a place of rest.
- Remove electrical devices (radios, cell phones, multiple outlet connectors) from around your head when you sleep. Electromagnetic fields have been found to reduce melatonin levels, best to keep them at least 10 feet away.
- Use a relaxation exercise just before going to sleep (e.g., muscle relaxation, guided imagery, Self-massage, warm bath). some great guided imagery Cd's are available at: www.healthjourneys.com
- Keep your feet and hands warm. Wear warm socks and/or mittens or gloves to bed. Cold extremities can keep you up at night, as well as your bed partner!