What’s keeping you up at night?

Good, sound sleep can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. However, when you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, the hours spent trying to sleep can be incredibly frustrating.

I have many tools to help people experience improved sleep, but I find that order to get the most out of acupuncture or Nutrition Response Testing treatment, the various factors that influence sleep should be considered and addressed first. These factors include bedroom environment, evening routine, diet, and stress management.

Bedroom environment

To create the perfect environment for sleep, one must consider the Goldilocks principle: everything must be “just right” for an individual to sleep well. The bed should be comfortable and the room temperature shouldn’t be too cool or too warm. The temperature should be on the cooler side (60-73º F, depending on the season) to bring about sleepiness and help maintain a comfortable body temperature throughout the night. The room should be as dark as possible. Blackout shades or an eye mask are useful Avoid lighted alarm clocks and nightlights. Quiet is also important. Earplugs and white noise machines come in very handy.

Finally, a lesser-known environmental factor is exposure to electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs). We are surrounded by EMFs from things like cell phones, wi-fi routers, microwaves, smart meters, television, computer screens, fitness tracking devices, smart watches, cordless telephones, and power lines. EMFs that are given off can cause disorder in our nervous systems. Some people are more sensitive than others to these frequencies.

If you sleep with your phone by the bed, your smart watch/Fitbit on your wrist, or you leave your wi-fi router on during the night, your sleep may well be affected. The simplest thing to do is to keep electronics out of the bedroom or at least turned off.  Also, turn off the wi-fi router at bedtime when nobody should be using it anyway.

For those who are super-sensitive, there are devices that can help protect your body from these harmful frequencies. The one that has helped me the most is the Vivobase Home and the Vivobase Mobile. It was an investment, but now I wouldn’t be without it.

Evening routine

Sleep is regulated by circadian rhythms, and just as the phrase implies, a consistent sleep rhythm is important. Do your best to go to bed at the same time every night, and allow for 8 hours of sleep. There are people who need less sleep, but be sure to give yourself enough time to get the amount of sleep you need. Science also shows that it is best if you can get to bed before midnight to achieve the most restful sleep.

It is important to limit nighttime screen time. The blue light given off by electronics can interfere with your circadian rhythm, and depress production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

Avoid eating late meals, because a full belly can interfere with good sleep, as well as cause acid reflux. It is also important to avoid high carbohydrate snacks late at night. The spike in blood sugar increases energy, making it difficult to fall asleep. It can also cause you to wake up hungry during the night. Nighttime snacks should include some protein and/or complex carbohydrates to help keep the blood sugar at a constant level.

Exercise late in the evening can also disrupt a normal sleep cycle. Morning is the best time for intense exercise. Soothing activities like a restorative or yin yoga, stretching, or meditation are better suited for the evening and help prepare for sleep.

Diet

We already discussed blood sugar levels at night, but sometimes it is important to consider your blood sugar stability throughout the day. If your body struggles to maintain a good balance, then you may consider giving up sugar and high carbohydrate foods altogether. Believe it or not, this can have a huge impact on the quality of sleep. If insulin production is abnormally high, the regulation of all hormones in the body will be off. Hormone balance is key to quality sleep.

Caffeine is another thing that we consume that can affect sleep. Caffeinated tea and coffee should be avoided after noon. Caution should also be extended to chocolate. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, but it is important to test this schedule, because you might be more sensitive than you think. Complete avoidance may be helpful with caffeine as well, because caffeine triggers cortisol production, which, like insulin, affects hormone balance.

Alcohol can hijack sleep. It makes us feel sleepy, but it affects the quality of sleep, not to mention blood sugar. Try unwinding with a cup of chamomile tea rather than a cocktail, and see what happens.

Stress management

Stress is part of life, but when it’s out of control, it can wreak havoc with our health. If you are under excess stress, it is imperative that you find a way to manage it in general, but especially before bed. Avoid doing work before bed. Try taking a warm bath or meditating in the evening to relax the body and mind. Drink some calming herbal tea (teas that include chamomile, peppermint, passionflower, linden blossom, lemon balm, valerian and/or lavender) or use calming essential oils (lavender, sandalwood, cedar, geranium, ylang ylang, to name a few) to help prepare yourself for sleep. Even positive things like creative thinking and planning right before bed can cause energy to increase, thereby disrupting sleep.

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when trying to improve your sleep. If you’ve addressed most of these issues and still can’t sleep, I would love to work with you. There are many more factors that we may need to address to get you the sleep you need.

If your heath is complicated by a condition such as sleep apnea, acid reflux, anxiety, depression, pain, restless leg syndrome, asthma, or the need for medications, it may require the joint effort of my services and your medical doctor.