Holistically Healing Your Sleep
In the early 1900s, the average American slept 9 hours a night. Fast forward a hundred years to today and we are finding the average American sleeps between 6-7 hours on a weeknight and 8 hours on the weekends. In that short time, we haven’t evolved to need less sleep, so what is happening with those vital 2 to 3 hours of rest, relaxation and restoration? And where have these hours? We have replaced a good night’s rest with a combination of coffee and other stimulants, late nights glued to computer and televisions screens, and other unhealthy sleeping habits that can result in insomnia.
Here at Arogya, many of our clients come to us because they are having issues sleeping. Sleep researchers estimate that sleeping disturbances, or insomnia, affects between 10 to 30% of the adults at any given time. The Center for Disease Control recently conducted a study and found that 1 in 3 Americans do not get the recommended 7 hours of sleep each night. Many doctors and specialists encourage even more than 7 hours of sleep and believe the CDC should increase their recommended number of hours. Sleep problems are often associated with other health problems, including but not limited to gastrointestinal issues, menopausal issues, food or environmental allergies, heart disease, and mental or emotional stress. Young adults and teens can be especially effected by insomnia and sleep deprivation because they are in a time of vital development of the brain and body. Because of so many co-factors, insomnia can best be approached from a whole-body and whole-systems, holistic medicine perspective.
Fortunately, there are many natural ways to restore your sleep cycles and fix your insomnia. Here are some important holistic approaches for sleeping success:
Reduce Screen Time
Turn off all devices 2 hours before bed. I know it can be very tempting to fall asleep with the television on, or be on your phone while you’re lying in bed, but the light coming off of our screens can affect our body’s natural ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. This occurs because the artificial light of your screen can suppress melatonin levels. Melatonin is the chemical messenger in your body produced in the pineal glad that allows you to fall asleep and regulates your sleep/wake cycle. If melatonin is not released, individuals can be at risk for insomnia and sleep disturbance. Instead of having screen time before bed, try reading a book, magazine or listening to relaxing music. Unplugging could be better for you than you ever imagined!
Important note on Melatonin
The answer to your screen/sleeping issues should not be to medicate with melatonin. While melatonin can be helpful, it can have negative side effects, including hormonal imbalances, grogginess and headaches, and should not be taken for more than a period of 3 months. Melatonin can be very helpful for those who work night shifts and need to sleep during the day, or for jet-lag. Although some doctors can recommend melatonin for small children, there is limited evidence to support claims and safety.
Reduce Your Caffeine Consumption
If you are experiencing insomnia and drink beverages with caffeine, consider reducing your caffeine consumption. Coffee, tea and energy drinks can give us the boost we need, but sometimes can be taxing to our adrenal glands. One way you can reduce your caffeine consumption is through our Coffee to Tea Signature Cleanse. This cleanse includes different caffeinated and non-caffeinated teas that over time, reduce their caffeine concentrations so you slowly ween off coffee and heavily-caffeinated teas. Some herbal teas, like our Deep Relaxation tea, can be very helpful for those experiencing insomnia. To learn more about this cleanse, click here: Arogya Coffee to Tea Signature Cleanse.
Avoid Late Night Eating and Drinking
Do not eat 3 hours before bedtime. Eating food before bed increases blood sugar and gives your body fuel and energy, which can be detrimental when trying to sleep. Be mindful of when you are eating dinner or visiting the fridge for a late night snack and try to close your kitchen 3 hours before you hit the hay.
Drinking liquids before bed can present problems for our sleep success as well. Waking up to use the bathroom can make it difficult for some people to fall back asleep and they find themselves wide awake after being woken up by urgency to pee. Drinking alcohol can exacerbate these issues by not only increasing urgency to visit the bathroom, but alcohol can spike our blood sugar in the middle of the night and cause us to wake up from a deep sleep feeling dehydrated, irritable and unrested. It is best to avoid alcohol 3 hours before bed and try drinking your last sips of tea or water 2 hours before bedtime.
If you are a tea drinker, we have some wonderful herbal teas that are very medicinal for stress and insomnia. One of our best selling teas for sleep is our Calming D’Stress Tea which can be found in our store or on our website.
Avoid Late Night Exercise and Start Exercising Earlier in the Day
Avoid strenuous exercise 4 hours before bed. Your body needs time to relax and wind down. Cardiovascular exercise can be very helpful for fixing sleeplessness, but it is best done during the morning or afternoon. If you are not one to exercise and suffer from sleeping issues, try incorporating exercise into your schedule. Going for a nice walk or doing some gentle yoga can be a great way to get your body moving and a great way to rebalance your internal clock.
Meditation and Guided Relaxation
Try practicing a mindfulness exercise or meditation. Meditation has been found to be extremely calming to the body and mind and studies have shown that meditation can not only improve sleep hours and sleep quality, but improve wakefulness and alertness during the day. There are a number of free resources available to start you on a meditation journey, including podcasts, apps, and videos with guided meditations. We also offer meditation sessions at Arogya on Wednesday evenings. If you are interested in trying it out, please contact us at 203-226-2682.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
From my own personal experience, acupuncture and Chinese herbs were my saving grace during times of insomnia and waking up in the middle of the night. Even though I was eating right, exercising, and avoiding caffeines and sugars, I would still find myself waking up at 2:00 or 3:00 am, fully charged and ready for the day. I would lay in bed awake and then the whole next day, be tired and groggy. It was acupuncture and Chinese medicine that turned out to be the ultimate solution for my sleeping issues.
Our acupuncturist at Arogya, Gregor Bertram, has helped many individuals restore their sleep scheduled while restoring their whole-body vitality and wellness. Please feel welcome to call us at 203-226-2682 if you would like to schedule an appointment with Gregor.
Your Best Health
Sleep issues can affect all aspects of your life and make you irritable, low-energy and low-functioning, and can take some of the joys and vital energy out of life. Our team at Arogya is committed to helping people live their lives to the fullest and highest well-being and are here if you or anyone you love is suffering from sleep deprivation or insomnia. Please feel welcome to give us a call or send us an email if you would like more information about our resources or would like to schedule an appointment.
by: Alison Larocca
*These statements have not been approved by the FDA