Are You Getting Enough Zzz’s?

Is insomnia contributing to your anxiety?

Cleaning up your sleep routine will improve your mental health

Have you ever felt a little cranky and irritable after a restless night? When we are sleep-deprived, we have a hard time coping with what the day throws at us.

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Many of us have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Our mood pays the price the next day.

Even missing an hour of shuteye affects our coping abilities. If you often wake in the night, you’ll feel tired and slow in the morning instead of rested and energized. Seven hours of restless sleep is not the same as 7 hours of deep, relaxing sleep.

What Can You Do About Poor Sleep?

Here are a few tips to help you doze off and wake refreshed and ready to tackle that to-do list!

Address health conditions that affect your sleep

Certain health conditions affect your sleep quality. Anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalances, and dependency on sleeping pills or alcohol have a significant impact on our sleep patterns. If you suspect any of these are an issue for you, check with your naturopathic doctor to rule them out. Often, treating the underlying conditions will help you get the sleep you need.

Create a healthy sleep routine

Unplug and be off electronics for at least a few hours before bedtime

Being on electronics before you sleep disrupts your melatonin production, making it harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Set a consistent bedtime and go to sleep around the same time each day

This conditions your body to unwind at a certain time each day and set the wheels in motion for sleep.

Create the ideal environment

Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. These are the optimal conditions for good sleep.

Include a quiet activity that you enjoy

Replace your phone with a book or guided meditation. Calming, relaxing activities like these help slow down your brain and lower the levels of stimulating stress hormones.

Use the 15-minute rule

If you follow your routine and don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, get up. Read, or do another relaxing activity until you feel drowsy. Repeat as needed until you drift off. This prevents you from getting into a cycle of frustration over not sleeping which makes insomnia worse.

Avoid sleep disruptors

Caffeine. Avoid stimulants (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate) for at least 2 hours before bed. Some people find they need to cut out caffeine as early as noon.

Alcohol. If you are drinking alcohol, try your best to have it earlier in the evening, as it destabilizes your blood sugar and disrupts your sleep.

Naps. No naps or going to bed early, even if you’ve had a rough night. It disrupts your natural sleep cycle.

Food and supplements to improve your sleep

Ensuring blood sugars are stabilized overnight helps you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep

If you suspect this might be an issue for you, try having a high protein snack before bed like a hard-boiled egg. Protein can be slowly metabolized into glucose to maintain a stable blood sugar level overnight.

Low levels of specific vitamins and minerals can disrupt your sleep

We need sufficient levels of Vitamin B6, magnesium, and tryptophan to make the sleep neurotransmitter melatonin. Leafy greens, legumes, dark chocolate, poultry, tofu, and eggs are excellent sources.

If you improve your sleep habits and continue to have issues, ask your naturopathic doctor about supplements (not recommended with sleeping pills). Your naturopath may suggest options such as valerian, chamomile, melatonin, lemon balm, or magnesium.

With a few tweaks to your sleep routine, you’ll get the restful sleep you need in no time and feeling more calm and relaxed the next day!

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), Naturopath

Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), Naturopathic Doctor

Dr. Pamela has been in practice as a naturopathic doctor in Toronto since 1999. She has been the recipient of numerous “Best Naturopath in Toronto” awards. She is registered with the College of Naturopaths of Ontario.

Dr. Pamela Frank uses a natural treatment approach that may include acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition, diet, vitamins, supplements, and other natural remedies to restore balance and provide long-term resolution of almost any health problem.

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