Sleeping can be a big struggle for a lot of us in our journey towards a healthier life. Valérie here again, a social worker with Mind Body Solutions. Today’s post will focus on sleep and a couple tips you can use to fall or stay asleep easier.
What does lack of sleep do?
In our Western society, we put a lot of emphasis on productivity. We push ourselves, over-exert ourselves, and thus set ourselves up for failure when it comes to sleep. Dr Gleixner of the Moncton Naturopathic Medical Clinic states that it is important to work with your healthcare practitioners to find the root cause (family doctor, psychologist, etc.) so you can proceed in taking care of your sleep schedule in the best way possible. Sleep, as he mentions, is the time where our body heals, so it is important to make sure that we get the amount of sleep that is right for us. Asides from feeling more awake during the day, Dr Gleixner says that better sleep can help you have a better memory, an easier time losing weight, and reduce the risk for depression and cardiovascular diseases. If you’re not sleeping well, you’re not giving your body the time it needs to heal and recover, according to Dr Gleixner.
Tips to get better sleep
Go to bed within 2 hours and wake up within one hour of the same time, every day. This helps set a rhythm to your sleep schedule and gets your body used to being awake and asleep at certain specific times. To strengthen this schedule, dim the lights 2-3 hours before you go to bed and in the morning, get a good 5-30 minutes of sunlight. Work the night shift? Have to get up early during the winter months? Invest in a natural spectrum lamp! Get that sunrise feeling minus the sun! You can also incorporate something a bit more specific, like maybe skincare or a hot cup of chamomile tea. These types of small rituals can help your brain sink deeper into that routine, it’s like a little sign that says “Hey, it’s time to go to bed soon”.
Put work aside 2-3 hours before bed. This ensures that not only you are more relaxed before going to bed, but you’re also not worrying about that big deadline or project before dozing off. Your bed is for sleeping, working and/or studying in it makes it so your brain associates that comfy spot with being active and awake. Try not watch shows or play video games too much as well, unless they help you fall asleep. If you absolutely must look at a screen before bed, use an app like F.lux or Twilight to both dim and filter the light from those devices to make it more soothing. The idea is to really make your bedroom an oasis of relaxation. Consider getting an aromatherapy diffuser (perhaps from our neighbors Aromaticos Purity!), a good comfy pillow, maybe even a heated or weighted blanket. Part of sleep is the environment in which you sleep, so try to make sure it’s to your liking.
If you really can’t fall asleep within a half hour, get up and do something. Nothing too strenuous or exciting, maybe just some light reading or listening to music. Something that can trick your brain into getting relaxed again. Another idea can be coloring, doodling, or any other kind of small craft. Again, not a project that requires a ton of setting up and tons of energy, but something quick and relaxing. Personally, I’m a big fan of listening to shows or movies I’ve already seen when I have a rough time: I don’t need to care about the plot since I’ve seen and heard it all before, and since I don’t pay close attention to it, it becomes white noise that relaxes my brain and lets me drift off to sleep easier.
And if none of it works?
See your doctor, it could be a physical symptom that can be properly treated. Consider going to a sleep specialist if the problem really persists. Another useful thing to do is examine your life: is there a big stressful event making it difficult for you to relax? Do you perhaps have anxiety? Feel free to drop us a line or email here if you would like to talk to one of our counselors about what is going on in your life that is preventing you from sleeping.
Thank you very much for reading this blog, if you have any questions or comments please let us know!