I think we can all agree that there is nothing like a good night’s sleep – it is energizing, immune boosting, mood stabilizing and downright wonderful. Do you remember the last time you slept through the night? After falling asleep with a good book, you wake in rested bliss 8 or 9 hours later in the same position in which you drifted off. Absolutely fantastic! After a sleep like this your mind is clearer, your body stronger, you are patient, you eat better, you communicate more effectively – good sleep is literally a gateway to better overall health.
Do I have insomnia?
We have all experienced insomnia in one way or another during our lives, and up to 40% of adults in a significant way. A natural healthy sleep is 7-9 hours of relatively uninterrupted slumber, waking rested and feeling energized. Anything outside of this for any significant period of time could be considered abnormal and potentially unhealthy and from a general and genetic health perspective, not honouring circadian rhythms, poor sleep, and exposure to blue light before/during sleep can raise many peoples chances of serious health conditions such as weight gain, hormonal imbalance, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease (just to name a few). We also now know that reductions in REM sleep (predominant in the second half of the night) makes us more emotional and foggy minded.
Unfortunately for many of us good sleep does not come easy, or sometimes not at all. Fortunately, there is a drug-free, pain free solution that research has shown can improve your sleep quality and quantity. Acupuncture works to balance the body’s internal rhythms, reduce anxiety and calm the mind giving us a gateway to better and more restful sleep. It is an excellent addition to other sleep aids, such as medications or psychotherapy and has been shown to improve the efficacy of these other treatments. Used alone, acupuncture is also proven to be a successful therapy to support better sleep.
Acupuncture for sleep?
Acupuncture is an ancient therapeutic method with a history of thousands of years, originally developed in China, but now successfully used all around the world to support better sleep. In the theory of Chinese medicine, the body is an organic whole and the internal organs, external surface and extremities are connected through a series of channels or meridians. According to this theory, the channels connect the internal organs with the external surface and extremities by transporting energy and blood. Through the needling of acupuncture points, we can stimulate the channels to harmonize and balance these internal systems. Feelings of anxiety are reduced, sleep is deeper and the mind is calm. During an acupuncture treatment most people report a profound sense of relaxation that is carried through the evening into the night and with several treatments long term effects can be achieved.
Also important for a good sleep is to develop and nurture good sleeping habits. Don’t forget you are not alone in this journey, and sometimes it takes experimenting and working to implement different patterns and rhythms in your day to better get your body and mind prepared for a good night’s sleep.
How to practice good sleep hygiene!
Please start with some of the following recommendations to improve your sleep today;
- Get plenty of exercise. This is vital. Even a short workout (10 mins!) in a day can make a big difference
- Acupuncture 1-2/week is proven to support better sleep and reduced anxiety.
- Cut caffeine out. The half life of caffeine in our bodies can be up to 7 hours, so that means it could be affecting you for 14 hours. In other words, if you want to go to bed by 10pm, you better stop caffeine intake by 8am. Caffeine also interferes with certain chemical processes in our bodies that create sleepiness and plays a major role in REM sleep (essential for stress/emotional smooth flow, and higher more complicated cognitive functions).
- DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL
- If you sleep poorly, an afternoon nap can help minimize the negative impact and give you more energy for the rest of the day.
- Buy a good bed – it might be the most important purchase of your life!
- Make sure you are happy with your pillow – we spend 8 hours/day with it.
- Lower the temperature in your bedroom. 18C is ideal.
- Begin your day with getting some exposure to sunlight – start your circadian clock as soon as you can, and this means do not wear sunglasses in the morning and try to create a sleeping rhythm that closely follows the rising and falling of the sun.
- Get ready for sleep 30-60 minutes prior to hitting the pillow.
- Make sure your sleeping environment is as dark and silent as possible as well as free from electronic devices.
- Use smell to activate the ‘rest and digest’ aspect of your nervous system
- Diffuse lavender, rose, or bergamot in your room while you sleep
- If you need to use a screen before bed, make sure that you have your “nightshift” option turned on to reduce your exposure to blue light, which is stimulating.
- Wear Blue Light Blocking Glasses to ensure melatonin production is optimal
- Reading from a book or magazine is recommended instead, or simply relaxing or stretching.
- Spoonk acupressure mat – use before bed for a great sleep! Relieves back pain as well.
- Some people are reporting great sleeps with weighted blankets – we even sell these exact ones in clinic because we can personally vouch for the difference it makes!
- Try Binaural Beats – they help relax your brain and are easy to find on Youtube or other streaming services.
- Try Cognitive Shuffling – The modern day version of counting sheep.
- To do the shuffle, first imagine a word — that doesn’t repeat any letters — as you’re lying in bed.
- Then think up lists of words that start with each letter of the root word you chose.
- So, for example, if you picked “bird,” you would come up with four lists of words starting with the letters B, I, R and D and imagine visually each word as you think it.
- Explore deep Breathing. Inhale 6 seconds. Hold 4 seconds. Exhale 6 seconds. Repeat for 50 breaths.
- Try white noise. My favourite app is mynoise – it’s a website and app with lots of amazing relaxing sounds.
- Mentally scan your body and tighten and release muscle groups as you do.
- Magnesium – 150-200 mg each night approx 30 minutes before bedtime
- Melatonin – 10 mg each night approx 30 minutes before bedtime
So- are you ready to upgrade your sleep? Let us know in the comments below or on social media – we are here to support you in making your DREAMS a reality 😴