Statistics vary, but the National Sleep Foundation reports that 63% of women suffer insomnia a few nights a week. Does this include you?
The high stress in our culture is perhaps the No.1 hindrance to sleep. We have become human “do-ings” instead of human “be-ings”. We do and do all day long and then at night when we stop doing and all is quiet and we are just “being”, the frustrations that we’ve stuffed during the day leap into our consciousness and sleep evades us.
Sleep deprivation comes at a price. Not only might we experience fatigue and impaired concentration, but we put ourselves at risk for depression, irritability, compromised immunity, and age-related diseases like hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Remember how wonderful it feels to wake up from a good night’s sleep? You feel refreshed, energized, clear-thinking and open to the possibility that this might be a happy, life-fulfilling day. Doing what it takes to make good sleep happen consistently is certainly worth the effort.
The experts are pretty much agreed on what to do and what to avoid to sleep tight:
- Sleep in complete darkness. No nightlight, no street light creeping under the window blinds. No electronic devices with flashing lights (your cell phone, your iPad, your Kindle). Why? Any light at all decreases the brain’s ability to produce melatonin, a powerful anti-oxidant that boosts the immune system.
- But do get natural light during the day. It helps set our biological clock, our circadian rhythm. Melatonin production depends on natural light during the day and darkness at night. Just like our early ancestors got.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day–including weekends. The body loves routine. Go to bed early so that you are asleep between 10 pm and 2 am (or at least between 11 pm and 1 am). This is when the body does its best repair work.
- Get between 6 and 8 hours of sleep each night. Individuals vary in the amount of sleep needed, but most guidelines suggest between 6 and 8 hours. Not more. If you nap, make it 30 minutes or fewer and not after 3 pm. Otherwise your circadian rhythms get upset.
- Sleep in a cool room–best between 60 and 68 degrees. Our body temperature drops at night so we sleep best when the room temperature drops as well.
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise during the day–but no vigorous exercise before bedtime.
- Avoid being on the computer and watching TV an hour before bed: these are brain stimulants. The late night news is especially problematic.
- Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. And during the day, strive never to go more than 5 hours between meals–skipped meals raises cortisol, the stress hormone. Of course, avoid caffeine and nicotine. Especially before bedtime, avoid alcohol, grains and sugar. These raise the blood glucose level which then drops and wakes us up. Some folks are helped by eating a high-protein snack in the evening and maybe a little fruit.
- Cultivate a relaxing bedtime routine. This might include spiritual or uplifting reading, deep and slow diaphragmatic breathing, journaling or listening to a relaxing CD of quiet music or nature sounds. Or EFT tapping.
- Hormone Imbalances can effect sleep patterns. Difficulty sleeping at night and then sleeping late in the morning is sometimes the result of hormone imbalances. If you think this might be your case, especially if you are a woman over 35, you may wish to have your hormone levels checked. (By the way, this is the specialty of Dr. Bethel Flores at the Clover Clinic in Newberg.)
If obsessive thinking about the day’s stress is giving you insomnia, EFT can help. You can begin by tapping for the specific issue that is keeping you awake–and continue tapping until all its aspects are released. And then you can choose gratitude and appreciation for all that is good in your life.
For further information, check out my Worry and Stress page. Or call me at 971-506-0498 and let me help. And please share this with anyone you know who suffers from insomnia!