2015 Is a Year For Good Sleep!
Well it’s a New Year, the holidays are over and it’s time for us to get back on track, armed with our resolutions for beginning anew and healthily. After the hustle bustle of the holidays, I personally have a lot of sleep to catch up on! I’ve recently had a number of patients come in seeking help with improving sleep. Not only has working with them increased awareness of my own bad habits and cycle of fatigue, but I have also become inspired by their progress.
Studies have shown that sleep deprivation contributes to many health disorders related to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, low immunity, depression, stress, infertility and pregnancy loss. Some reproductive endocrinologists will even recommend that their patients have 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night during IVF cycles to help increase success rates.
But for some, this is easier said than done- particularly with increased levels of stress and anxiety when dealing with infertility. Unfortunately, it can be a vicious cycle where stress can cause sleep disruption, which leads to increased stress hormones, further disrupting sleep patterns. Studies have shown that acupuncture and TCM herbs can help to interrupt this cycle, as they are both very effective at treating the root imbalances causing insomnia and stress.
In TCM, there is no single treatment for insomnia or for stress, each case is assessed based on the individual's unique constitutional state of imbalance. If you are interested in getting more infortmation on how we can help you improve your sleep, feel free to book a free 15-minute phone Q&A with us. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
Additional to acupuncture and herbs, here are 10 practices that also help to support healthy sleep:
1. Try to sleep in as close to complete darkness as possible. Try using a sleep mask if necessary. Even a little bit of light can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm and negatively impact the pineal gland’s function in melatonin and serotonin production.
2. Try to go to bed at a regular and early time. Not changing your bedtime helps your body to establish a healthy rhythm, which supports falling asleep more easily. Going to bed before 11pm is ideal, as your body recharges and detoxifies between 11pm and 1am. If you are awake during this time, toxins can back up into the liver system.
3. Try not to drink any fluids within 2 hours of going to bed and go to the bathroom right before bed. This can help eliminate the need to wake up to go to the bathroom during the night.
4. Eat a high-protein snack a few hours before bedtime. This helps to provide L-tryptophan, which supports melatonin and serotonin production. A piece of fruit can also help the tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier, further aiding sleep.
5. Avoid eating right before bed, especially carbohydrates. Carbs can cause blood sugar fluctuations to peak and then drop, which can wake you up in the night.
6. Keep your feet warm. Wear a pair of socks to bed or use a hot water bottle at your feet. There is a link between quality of sleep, your body’s circulation, and its capacity to thermo-regulate. Encouraging blood flow to the feet ensures proper temperature of the extremities, supporting more restful sleep.
7. Avoid working or engaging in screen-time at least one hour before bed. This allows the mind to settle from stimulation and facilitates falling asleep more easily. Screens also disrupt your pineal gland function.
8. Avoid drinking caffeine after 2pm. Often caffeine can be inefficiently metabolized, continuing to have an effect long after consumption.
9. Avoid drinking alcohol. Although it induces drowsiness, it disrupts the deeper stages of sleep.
10. Exercise regularly. A daily minimum of 30 minutes of exercise improves sleep, but avoid exercising close to bedtime, as this can be too stimulating and disrupt sleep. Of course, ‘yin-type’ meditative exercises like low-key restorative yoga can be beneficial right before bed.
Happy new year and good luck catching up on your sleep!
Dr. Alda Ngo, Dr.TCM, BSc, FABORM