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Updated: Jul 29, 2019

MAY 16, 2019

Sleep is a surprising complex process, regulated by our thoughts, hormones (such as melatonin), and environment (such as light exposure). There are many reasons behind poor sleep: bedtime habits, medical conditions, emotional states, age, shift-work, and neurotransmitter imbalances, to name just a few!

Sleep difficulties can occur at different phases of the sleep cycle. Some people have difficulty falling asleep or simply don’t get enough hours of rest. Others have difficulty remaining asleep or sleep very lightly. If you don’t spend adequate time during the night in deep sleep, you don’t wake refreshed. Some common sleep-disrupters and ways to change them Caffeine. Avoid caffeine after 2pm. If you are a slow metabolizer, eliminate it entirely. Nicotine. If you smoke, let us help you quit. Nicotine stimulates the brain in ways that make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Non-smokers have fewer sleep problems than smokers. Alcohol. Although alcohol in the evening may seem like it helps you fall asleep, it actually disrupts your sleep. Alcohol can cause waking, nightmares, and poor quality sleep. Exercise. This is a proven way to increase high quality deep sleep in the elderly. Exercise during the day promotes good sleep; exercising close to bedtime may be too stimulating. Electronic devices & screens: the blue light from our computers, tablets and phones has been proven to disrupt melatonin release. Prevent this by using your device’s night settings, or download f.lux to modify your screen color: Environment. The bedroom should be quiet, dark, and soothing. Improve your sleep environment with heavy curtains, cool temperatures, dim lights, and quiet. If the room is too noisy, consider a background white noise generator which plays monotonous soothing sounds such as ocean waves or classical music.

The good news is that there are many things to help get your sleep schedule back on track!

Regular sleep schedules. Try to go to bed at the same time and get out of bed at the same time every day. If you take naps, it to 1 hour in the early afternoon. If possible, avoid shift work. Bedtime Rituals. Doing hectic computer work or watching an exciting movie right before bed makes the transition to sleep more difficult. Adopt a regular pattern of slowing down to help you get ready for bed. Sip chamomile tea and read a quiet book for a few minutes. Take a tepid bath (not too hot or cold). Do some deep breathing exercises or relaxation exercises. THEN get into bed when you are feeling calm and drowsy. Yoga and Yoga Nidra. Do a few restorative poses; forward bends and legs-up-the-wall are especially calming. Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation that leads you through progressive muscle relaxation into the deepest state of meditation while maintaining conscious. You can find many recordings on U-tube & Apps. Take something {temporarily}. Sustained release melatonin replaces deficiencies in the body’s own sleep hormone. It is non-addictive but dosing is very individualized. Kava is a heavy-hitting botanical that relaxes the body and mind. CBD works for many. Magnesium citrate, especially forms buffered with bicarbonate, improves sleep, muscle tension, and bowel movement. Progesterone is calming; if used, it should be taken before bed.

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