Having a restful sleep is fundamental to overall health, restoration, relaxation and well-being. If you are plagued by insomnia or are frequently fatigued, consider these tips. If you are still having problems, you may consider having a sleep study to identify any problems. A sleep study – or polysomnography – records physiological changes during sleep like heart rate, breathing rate, muscle activity, eye movements and brain function.
5 Things To Ensure:
1) maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle
It is important to maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle. This means trying to go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning at the same time each day. This will program healthy circadian rhythms. What are circadian rhythms? Circadian rhythms are natural rhythms in the body that regulate the sleep-wake cycle, digestion and other body process that occur in cyclic patterns during a 24 hour period. They tell the body when it needs to produce certain hormones and enzymes that regulate body processes. Shift work is particularly detrimental to health as it disrupts circadian rhythms. Try to get 8 hours of sleep each night.
2) wind down before bed
Meditation and deep breathing are great ways to wind down before bed. Spend 5-10min before bed to find a quiet place and consciously relax your muscles. Clear your mind of the day’s earlier stresses and allow yourself to sink. You may consider, a warm bath, yoga, thai chi, some calming music or a novel. Combine deep breathing with visualizing yourself in a fresh and relaxed place.
3) sleep environment awareness
The bed is meant for sleeping in. To program yourself to sleep when in bed, be sure to leave your work behind. Don’t watch TV or bring your laptop to bed with you.
4) daily exercise
Be sure to incorporate cardiovascular exercise into daily routine (just don’t do it right before bed!). Exercise reduces daily stress and releases endorphins.
5) get comfortable
Invest in a good quality, comfortable mattress. It may make all the difference in the quality of your sleep. A comfortable, supportive pillow is also important. Your chiropractor may have some suggestions as to the best types of pillows to use. Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleeping on your back or side will ensure a better spinal alignment to reduce stiffness/soreness upon waking.
5 Things To Avoid:
1) avoid daytime naps
Daytime naps may prevent you from sleeping at a normal time at night. Thus, it is better to avoid this.
2) avoid/limit alcohol consumption
When alcohol is metabolized, heat is produced. This warmth is often responsible for waking people up in the middle of the night after consuming alcohol.
3) avoid/limit caffeine consumption in the afternoon and evening hours
As caffeine is a stimulant, it should be avoided in the evening hours especially. Thus, it is best to avoid coffee, tea (other than herbal tea), certain soft drinks, chocolate and energy drinks at this time.
4) avoid large meals close to bedtime
Digestion burns energy and can make you warm. Thus, dinner should be consumed several hours before bed and have only a light snack before bed if you’re hungry.
5) avoid sound pollution
Sometimes this is difficult especially if you live in an urban area or have many people in your household. Investing in a white-noise maker or using a small electric fan may make a huge difference.
For other healthful tips, visit your local chiropractor. Or if you’re in Aurora or York Region, come see me!
Dr. Elisabeth Miron