We all need sleep to survive. Doctors recommend that we get at least eight hours of sleep each night. The truth is, we all have occasional nights when sleep eludes us.
Insomnia is defined as poor quality or unsatisfying sleep. It indicates all types of sleep loss. It can be short term and last for a few nights, or it can become a chronic condition that persists for months or even years. This includes not being able to fall asleep, waking up too early in the morning and not being able to fall back asleep again, waking up often during the night, as well as sleeping but waking up feeling unrefreshed.
There are a number of different reasons why people don’t sleep well. If you can’t find a valid reason for your sleep problems – chronic pain, restless leg syndrome, your bedroom is too hot or too cold, excessive noise in your environment or partner disturbances – then your sleeping disorder is most likely stress related. Research has identified stress as being the major cause of most sleep disorders. Sometimes we just get into a bad habit of poor sleep.
When we don’t get enough sleep, we can experience drowsiness, irritability, depression, poor concentration or low energy the next day. With that said, our sleep problem is unique. It is also important to remember that we are creatures of habit. But in the end, to ensure a good night’s rest, it is vital to identify why you aren’t sleeping so that lifestyle changes can be made and new habits formed.
Recommendations for wellness
- Perhaps you don’t need eight hours of sleep each night. Some people get alongjust fine with only four to five hours of sleep and show no ill effects. If thisis you, relax – you’re just fine. Take advantage of the extra time.
- Don’t lie in bed worrying about sleeping. Instead, get up and move around. Read a book, meditate or do some yoga. Most importantly, stay up until you feel sleepyagain.
- Write down your worries and concerns or make a list of tasks you need to accomplishthe next day before going to bed.
- Go to bed the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning.This will help promote good sleep habits and reinforce your biological sleep clock.
- Ensure that your bedroom temperature is to your preference, your mattress iscomfortable and your pillow provides you with the proper amount of support. Keepyour bedroom as dark as possible and wear pajamas that are loose fitting.
- Before you go to bed, take a hot bath. Add 1-2 cups of Epsom salt (or sea salt)and some essential oils, such as clary sage or lavender oil. Turn down the lightsand light a candle. Listen to some soothing music and allow your body to relax.
- Try to get some physical activity every day. Studies show that the more activeyou are during the day, the more you will be able to relax at night.
- Reduce the amount of sugars, fats and preservatives you consume. Instead, eata well-balanced diet filled with lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea and many carbonated beverages,especially after 3 p.m. each day.
- Calcium and magnesium have a calming and relaxing effect on the body and muscles.
- Melatonin is a hormone that helps our bodies regulate our sleep cycles and promotessound sleep.
- Chamomile, hops, passionflower, lemon balm and skullcap historically have beenused as sleep aids.
- One of the best herbs for insomnia is valerian root, especially when used ona regular basis. Taken for about a month, valerian root has been shown to promotedeep relaxation and sleep.
- Nature’s Sunshine’s Herbal Sleep is an herbal combination that provides naturalsedative and calming effects on the body. It does not produce a "drugged-like"feeling that is often associated with pharmaceutical sedatives.