As you know there are many pieces to the wellness puzzle. To feel vital and healthy involves addressing all of the pieces. I advise starting somewhere and making progress over time. It is important to address sleep, exercise, mindset, nutrition, supplements, hormone balancing, and toxin exposure. Each of these things affect each other. This month I am going to talk specifically about sleep. Proper sleep is important in order for you to feel energetic and function properly.
Sleep disorders are quite common and sleep medication is prescribed at alarming rates. There are a small percentage of people who may need them but the large majority of people who take them do not require these medications. There is often an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Sleep problems (issues with going or staying asleep) can arise from a variety of causes.
One of the major causes of sleep disorders is our mind. Often, the mind is full of thoughts of what needs to get done. Or you may be the kind of person that pushes yourself late into the night to get things done–not allowing yourself to rest. Today’s world is full of things that stress our mind–news, phone calls/texts, e mails, financial worries, work issues, traffic, etc. The great news is that you control your mind. You may not be able to control the things that happen around you but you can control what you watch, what you read, what time you go to bed, what you think about, how you react. Everything is a choice whether you wish to admit that or not. You can say No to things–it is a choice.
The best thing to do is to avoid watching news as it is visually disturbing and often negative. You can stay informed without watching news. Another great thing to do is to keep your phone on vibrate and turn off the alerts. Check your cell phone when you desire to–not at the whim of whoever is calling you or texting you. They will survive, and so will you. Turn off your cell phone at a set time each night to keep it off while you sleep and pick a day a week where you keep it off. I like keeping my personal cell phone off on Sundays as most people respect that day as a day to rest, but pick whatever day works within your life. If your job requires you to be contacted after hours, have a separate phone for after hour work emergencies so that you can turn off your personal cell phone when you desire. Take control of your time-you deserve it! Spend some quiet time each day and focus on how you are breathing. Take long, deep breaths to relax your mind. Go outside and look at the stars for a few minutes at night-it helps to give you some great perspective. Turn off the TV and computer at a set time, allowing you time for your mind to relax. Get outside in nature whenever you can–it is very calming for the mind.
Another major factor that affects sleep (in both men and women) is a hormonal imbalance. It is quite common to have a hormonal imbalance affecting your sleep–we are surrounded by a multitude of hormone disruptors that cause an imbalance. A deficiency in Progesterone, Testosterone, and Estrogen and/or a Cortisol excess can affect your ability to fall asleep, and stay asleep. If you think that this is the issue, have your hormone levels evaluated and treated with bio-identical hormones. Rebalancing your hormones can help your sleep.
Sometimes sleep disorders can be due to a deficiency. Magnesium is quite calming and a lot of people are deficient in this mineral. I advise 200-300 mg of chelated Magnesium to help calm the brain down. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter in your brain and can often be depleted due to our stressful lives. Supplementing with GABA can often help to quiet the brain down. (I like Neurocalm–we do carry this at the office if you can’t find a good GABA source). Melatonin is your body’s natural sleep aide and sometimes the addition of sublingual (under the tongue) Melatonin can help you to fall asleep better. Keep in mind that your body requires a dark environment in order to properly produce melatonin so keep your bedroom as dark as you can.
Sleep apnea can affect your ability to get quality sleep. Sleep apnea is when your lungs have a hard time getting enough oxygen at night due to the airway being constricted. Often you will snore. If you are told that you snore I highly advise a sleep study to evaluate whether or not you have sleep apnea.
Eating later in the evening (i.e. less than 3 hours before bedtime) or drinking caffeine in the afternoon or evening can affect your sleep. You may think it does not, but it does.
Ensure that you go to bed at a reasonable time so that you can get the amount of sleep that your body requires–generally 7-9 hours. This is different for each person. You know when you got enough sleep when you wake up without an alarm.
You are important and taking some time on a daily basis to ensure that you get adequate, restful sleep will pay off with an increased energy each day. Be aware of your thoughts and your activities and pay attention to the effect that they have on your sleep.