There may be a good reason for it and some easy solutions.
You should always get your doctor’s approval on any natural sleep alternative since many herbs and supplements may interfere with prescription medications. It’s always best to run it by your doctor first. With that in mind, there are so many sleep helps out there, it’s good to educate yourself first for that conversation with your physician.
Magnesium and Calcium: Our body needs these natural minerals to help your muscles and our brains relax. Without them, drifting off to sleep can take much longer than normal. Since calcium helps the absorption of magnesium, combining them makes sense. Taking them 1 ½ hours before bed may ease the fall asleep time.
Melatonin: This hormone is readily available in many forms at local pharmacies. Melatonin regulates sleep cycles and is best for those occasional late nights or jetlag when we’re off our regular bedtime schedules and should only be used for 3-4 nights. Take it 1 ½ hour before bedtime to help ease you into dreamland.
Valerian and hops: A plant that has been used to treat insomnia for thousands of years is the Valerian root. If you’ve tried the first two suggestions then this may be the choice for you. Valerian helps reduce anxiety and shortens the falling asleep time for most people.
Cognitive behavior: Something we won’t find on the pharmacy shelf is therapy for insomnia. This might mean recognizing and deleting bad patterns and routines that disturb sleep. A recent study demonstrated that changing poor bedtime habits relieved 86% of insomnia issues. Let’s review several bad habits that contribute to loss of sleep:
- Sleeping with a cell phone in the bedroom
- TV in the bedroom
- Eating less than 3 hours before going to bed
- Lack of exercise
- Blue screen stimuli 2 hours before bedtime that keep the brain engaged such as: computers, laptops, ipads, TV and phones.
- Even slight dehydration can interrupt sleep
Here are several positive ways to get a good night’s sleep.
- Calorie counts that are too low. People who don’t eat enough have problems falling asleep and tend to wake up earlier than they’re body needs. When your liver glycogen (stored energy) is depleted your adrenaline protects you by waking you up to eat. Embrace the bedtime snack—a snack not a meal—2 hours before bedtime and choose a carb-protein rich food.
- Don’t ignore Zen time. Centering yourself with quiet times, meditation or prayer helps to distress the stressors of the day.
- Don’t work against your body’s circadian rhythm. Figure out your true bedtime. Remember we sleep in 90-minute cycles. So if you need to be up at 6 am, count backward 5 cycles to set your bedtime schedule. Then stick to it even on your days off. Consistency is how to win the sleep game.
- Kill the lights. Using blackout curtains in order to be in total darkness will signal to your body it’s time to sleep. Total dark will also keep you from waking too early from outside light.
- Don’t keep your room warm. The body cools down when it sleeps and keeping your room at 65 or below increases the depth and quality of your sleep.
- Don’t ridicule the routines. Having a bedtime routine shifts even the most stubborn sleep cycle into sleep mode. The routine acts as a visual signal to the body that it’s wind down time.
Sleep is vital to our well-being, mental and physical health. We work hard to eat right, workout, and decrease stress when we should be doing all we can to protect and promote our quality and quantity of sleep. Sometimes it might be vital to see a sleep coach.
The way we digest food and assimilate it for body nutrition, emotional health and brain function all begins with a good night’s sleep. Here’s to your ZZZZZZ’s!