According to a 2010 study in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, the consequences of sleep deprivation at 24 hours is comparable to the cognitive impairment of someone with a blood-alcohol content of 0.10 percent. Insomnia whether it is difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or early morning waking is frustrating and can have significant impact on your overall health.
Sleep is crucial to our quality of life because it:
- Improves concentration, memory and motor skills
- Regulates appetite and metabolism
- Helps with recovery and repair
- Helps regulate our mood.
- Is one of the building blocks of a healthy immune system.
- Helps reduce stress
- Helps the brain get rid of its waste
If you experience insomnia, practice the following suggestions to help you reestablish a healthy circadian rhythm.
1. Avoid hitting the snooze button
Any extra sleep you get is fragmented making it low quality. You also prepare the body for a new sleep cycle that you won’t have time to finish resulting in fatigue throughout the day.
Set your alarm for when you actually need to get up. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day to support your natural sleep cycle.
2. Schedule it!
Catching up on sleep on weekends isn’t ideal. It can undo some but not all of the damage that sleep deprivation causes.
Go to bed and wake-up at the same time each day, even on weekends to stabilize your circadian rhythm.
3. Using technology before bed.
78% people engage in screen time before bed. The blue light from screens of computers, phones or tablets can delay the production of melatonin and keep you awake longer.
You can install the free software F.lux which changes the light of your computer depending on the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. You can also buy some blue ray blocking glasses to wear at least 2 hours before bedtime while viewing screens.
Instead of starting at a screen before bed, practice meditation to allow the body to relax.
4. Avoid stimulants before bed.
Avoid caffeine in the evening. If you are sensitive to caffeine try to limit your intake to mornings only. Finish your dinner at least 2 hours before bed. Avoiding alcohol close to bedtime as it reduces REM sleep, the phase which is associated with deep dreaming. Disruptions in REM sleep may cause daytime drowsiness. Opt for herbal teas such as chamomile, which has a sedative effect. Also limit your amount of fluids so that you don’t need to get up to use the bathroom.
5. Make sure your room is cool.
Your body temperature needs to lower for you to get to sleep. Set the temperature in your room between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius. Cold feet are strongly linked to the sleep cycle. If you your feet are cold, put on a pair of socks to induce sleep more quickly.
6. Increase melatonin
Specific practices that increase melatonin are: eat/drink protein 30 min before bed for example 1 tbsp of almond butter, use dark out curtains or an eye mask.
If you have tried these recommendations and despite all your efforts you are still struggling to get a good night sleep consult a Naturopathic doctor to find the right natural sleep aid for you.