Insomnia which is commonly known as a disorder of normal sleep affects millions of Americans. In fact, one in four Americans reports having occasional issues with sleep while for the unfortunately 9% of Americans – lack of quality sleep is a nightly predicament. I keep a stash of creative tips in my holistic medicine war chest – this way anyone with any preferences – can find something that strikes a chord with them – and use these useful tidbits to attain a better quality nightly rest. We need this rest to allow our bodies to heal and recuperate from the daily metabolic and immunologic processes they go through.
Eat 3 small meals and 2 smaller snacks during the day. Make sure that there is at least a little bit of fiber in everything you eat. This will ensure that your sugar is stable instead of crazy ups and downs. This way when you reach your bedtime – your cortisol levels are appropriately low, allowing the body to feel comfortable and safe. Extra tip for acid reflux sufferers: Avoid eating within 2-3 hours before bedtime – you don’t want your sleep to be delayed by the acidic heartburns.
Turn onto your side while falling asleep. This helps back sleepers avoid snoring and breathing pauses, cutting nighttime awakenings by as much as 50%. In fact, Japanese researchers who studied the effect of body pillows use on sleep architecture in healthy young adults confirmed that a lateral sleeping position promotes a healthier pattern of slow wave sleep. Extra tip for sleep apnea sufferers: if you have a large uvula or suffer from a large soft palate due to excess weight – sleeping on your side will be especially effective in avoiding sleep interruptions.
Go for a stroll after dinner. Canadian researchers noticed that 30 minutes of evening exercise can help you sleep 42 minutes longer. The mechanism is thought to be derived from the improved serotonin production due to the evening workouts. This neurotransmitter acts as a hormone and helps prevent early morning surges in anxiety – thereby preventing anxious early morning awakenings. Extra tip for those who like intense exercise: finish it at least 3 hours before bedtime – to give your body a chance to wind down from those natural endorphins.
Some studies suggest that you are three times more likely to sleep well if you receive ten minutes of acupressure four times/week. There are many foot massage devices and acupressure foot mats available online or you can just self-massage the area between the ball of your foot and the beginning of the arch while listening to classical music with your eyes closed. You can tell that the latter is how I choose to do it.
Practice journaling your accomplishments for the day. This is especially useful if you are the kind of person who likes making lists of things to do during the day. Writing down your daily goals and marking them as done, will make even the staunchest type A personalities aware of their daily achievements and will ease their anxieties, enabling better quality anxiety-free sleep.
This one is very similar to Tip #5 but it has to do with Gratitude Journaling. Spend at least 15 minutes writing down the things for which you are grateful tonight. You can include events or observations from the day. Handwriting in script is much better than typing things on your computer. I recommend staying away
from your electronic devices for an hour or two before going to bed anyway. Additionally, when you are tired and sleepy in the evening, writing things down in script – is very suggestive, meaning that the messages you write down are accepted as true and internalized by your mind readily. Be creative and expressive. You can rhyme if you like or add drawings or other keepsakes to allow you to express your joy and gratitude for having lived a meaningful day.
Dr. Kogan is a Concierge Holistic Internal Medicine doctor in Naples.
Her website is CustomLongevity.com. Office phone: 239-676-6883