Not getting enough sleep? There can be many reasons why you may not be sleeping. With so many pharmaceutical sleep drugs on the market, I was compelled to write this blog entry. While I was watching a commercial, I noticed most of the time was spent listing the side effects for the sleep medication. One of the side effects was DEATH! Gosh, with that side effect, you will be sleeping for a VERY LONG TIME!
In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), poor sleeping patterns can cause problems throughout the body, including weight gain and pain. There is an unbalance in your qi and is causing your body not to work effectively and efficiently.
Before we get into therapeutic treatments for sleep disorders, let’s start with the obvious NOT-TO-DO’s:
- Are you taking vitamins at night? Stop! Vitamins need to metabolize, so if you are taking your vitamins at 8pm or 9pm at night, you are certain to wake up when those vitamins are at its peak, possibly around 1-3am. You may be full of energy too early in the morning, then burning out earlier in your day. Take your vitamins in the morning instead.
- Do you have children waking you up every night? It is a good idea to get your children in a routine and provide them with some incentive so they do not wake you up at night. My 5-year old was waking up every night and I was averaging between 3-6 hours of sleep per night. It was exhausting to work full time and not having the energy. I also started to gain weight, needed more caffeine, and was not motivated. So, I bought my daughter a lavender herbal pillow and warmed it for her before bedtime. She would hug the pillow and fall fast asleep immediately. She slept through the night with the comfort of her special pillow. Though this may not apply to all the children out there, just a suggestion to “think outside the box” when getting your children to sleep.
- How late are you eating? If you are eating within 3 hours of bedtime, you may want to change your dinnertime. Digestion gets slowed with fatty foods and may interrupt sleep. Drinking alcohol may make you sleepy, but after a short nap can cause insomnia.
- Remember nicotine is a stimulant; it is best to avoid smoking prior to bedtime. Quitting smoking completely would be optimal.
- Avoid caffeine containing foods in the evening- i.e. cola, coffee, chocolate, hot cocoa, green teas.
Stop counting sheep and finally get some zzzz’s with:
- Acupuncture and herbal remedies- Consult with an acupuncturist and get information about how your channels can get back into balance to work efficiently.
- Eat food high in tryptophan- warm milk, nuts, seeds, honey, bananas, and eggs.
- Try taking a warm bath or shower. Use lavender products (avoid if pregnant) in the shower to enhance the calming effects.
- Turn off the TV! Watching shows late at night can cause you to get excited instead of relaxing your mind.
- Take a dose of melatonin- Melatonin is a natural hormone in our body. Additional melatonin can be taken to help induce sleep sooner. Please note: Melatonin is contraindicated in pregnancy and may interfere with ovulation. Do not plan to drive after taking Melatonin.
- Do you suffer with night sweats? Get it treated with acupuncture. A good acupuncturist would be able to help with the night sweats and with the sleep disharmony at the same time. Avoid red meats and spicy foods.
- Stop stressing! Stress keeps your mind working 24/7. You need to allow your mind to take a break. Most people will find that they have a clear mind when they get good sleep and stop stressing. When I hired my staff, the first thing I told them- “Leave your work stress at the door before you leave every night”. I would like them to come in every morning refreshed, happy, and clear minded.
Getting enough sleep can affect your daily performance, weight, organ functioning, and moods.
Most importantly, consult with your physician about your sleep habits. Sleep disorders could be a sign of a major health problem.