Getting restful sleep is one of the best gifts that you can give yourself. Waking up rested and ready for the day is a great way to start each day. But what if you are not sleeping well? What if you are waking up tired? Not getting enough sleep can cause you to think less clearly, feel depressed, gain weight, have high blood pressure, have elevated blood sugar, and have a weakened immunity. This is not a fun place to be.
Getting a good night’s sleep is not an option, it should be a priority for you.
Underlying issues that may be affecting your sleep:
Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is when the airflow to your lungs is obstructed at night. This results in snoring, which is more than just something to annoy your bed partner with. Having sleep apnea is like trying to get good sleep while someone is choking you. If you snore at night or stop breathing for brief periods of time, get a sleep study done. A sleep study can now be done in the comfort of your home and can reliably detect if you are having poor sleep due to nighttime oxygen deprivation. Mild sleep apnea can often be treated with weight loss, avoiding alcohol at night and sleeping on your side. However, if it is significant, then you will need either a bipap/cpap machine or a specialized mouthguard. Many people fight getting their sleep apnea treated, but it is critical to get this treated. Swallow your pride and have a proper evaluation and treatment for sleep apnea. Your life is worth it!
Restless Leg Syndrome: The legs may move involuntarily while you sleep which wakes you up at night. You may also notice having this issue during long car rides or plane rides. Often, optimizing iron levels and magnesium levels can alleviate this issue. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine can help some people with this disorder. There are also medications available for severe cases.
Hormonal Imbalance: An imbalance of Progesterone, Testosterone, Estrogen, Thyroid and Cortisol hormones can affect the quality of your sleep. This can occur in both men and women. If you are 35 or older and a sleep issue is a newer issue for you, get your hormones properly evaluated and balanced. Progesterone specifically is a calming hormone and can assist in falling and staying asleep. Testosterone and Estrogen both work to improve sleep quality and when balanced, keep your temperature stable at night, which can affect sleep. Keeping cortisol lower at night will help your mind to slow down in a manner that promotes sleep. If your cortisol is too high, you will feel “wired and tired”. Too much thyroid can impact the quality of your sleep and too little thyroid can cause daytime fatigue which then impacts sleep. Get your hormones properly evaluated by a hormone specialist if you feel your hormones are out of balance. Hormone imbalances are often missed with traditional testing.
Excess caffeine intake: The vicious cycle is that people who don’t sleep feel tired and tired people reach for caffeine. Caffeine artificially gives you energy and then later makes you feel more tired. Caffeine stimulates your adrenal glands to over work which can lead to a cortisol imbalance, which can affect overall energy and sleep quality. The advice is to limit yourself to 1-2 cups of caffeine in the morning and avoid all caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
Artificial Light: Later evening exposure to artificial light–especially TV and computers. The artificial light from electronics can give our bodies the false signal that it is daytime. Turn off electronics at least an hour before bedtime. Wear blue blocking glasses when the sun goes down. These glasses block the blue light which is especially disturbing to your brain’s ability to fall asleep appropriately.
Physical Pain: Pain can keep you awake. If you have pain in your body, seek help to alleviate the pain. If it is not something needing surgery, there are many natural and effective treatments for pain: acupuncture, craniosacral, prolozone, cbd, hypnotherapy, massage, chiropractor, physical therapy, etc. Get your pain properly evaluated and treated and you should be sleeping much better.
Stress: When you feel stressed and worried it can definitely affect your sleep. Regular exercise helps decrease stress. Journaling (writing out your concerns) can get them off your mind. Working with a life coach can help you with your mindset and give you skills on handling stress. Essential oils can be calming and relaxing. Meditation on a regular basis can train your brain to react calmly to stressors. Set up a schedule of self care so that you can feel calm despite any life stressor you encounter.
Diet: Yes, diet affects everything!! What you eat not only affects how you look and feel, but it affects your sleep. Certain foods can impact your ability to sleep soundly. Aged meats, cheeses, nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers), and refined sugar can all give you a poor night of sleep. Eating a heavy meal before bed can also impact your sleep.
Inconsistent Bedtimes: Staying up late and pushing past fatigue is common. It seems like you get more done, but in the long run you are hurting your body and are less productive. When you push yourself to stay up late you may get a burst of energy from a cortisol spike. This will impact your ability to calm down and get to sleep. You may have been able to get away with this when you were in your 20’s but it is not feasible as we get older. Take care of you and your body by setting a decent bed time and sticking to it. You will find that you will wake up feeling much better and have a more productive day. If you are confused in the best foods for you, seek the help of an educated nutrition guide.
Smoking: Not only is smoking bad for your health, it is also bad for sleep. Smoking is a stimulant and can definitely cause you to have a bad night of sleep. It can throw off your circadian clock and greatly reduce the quality of sleep, even if your last smoke was hours before bedtime. The best thing for your sleep and your overall health is to stop smoking. If you need assistance, Hypnotherapy is a proven method with a high success rate. There are also medications that can help.
Temperature: When you sleep your body aims to achieve a certain internal temperature. It is hard on your body if it is too cold or too hot in the room. However, having the room on the colder side does induce the body to sleep vs. a hot temperature which does not. Typically the optimal temperature is somewhere between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit, but each person is different. Adjust the temperature in your room until you find the optimal temperature for you. Adjust the temperature in your room until you find your optimal temperature that is around 68 degrees.
Tips to get a great night of sleep:
Getting restful sleep is attainable. If you try the tips and still struggle with sleep, we have a wide variety of wellness practitioners to assist you.