In my acupuncture practice I see a lot of people who have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Chinese Medicine has a lot to offer for relief from all kinds of sleep problems. With milder forms of sleep issues lifestyle and diet changes can make a big difference in helping get a full night’s rest. I like to refer to this as “improving sleep hygiene” to clean up your night-time routine. Here are some basic tips for improving the quality and amount of sleep you’re getting.
People with insomnia tend to experience one or more of the following sleep disturbances:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Waking too early in the morning
- Waking frequently throughout the night
Good practices before bed are key in the treatment of insomnia:
- Maintain bedtime and wake time on a consistant schedule.
- Sleep in a cool well, ventilated room.
- Get at least 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise daily, preferably at least five to six hours before bedtime. Exercising too close to bedtime may cause physical over-stimulation.
- Avoiding too much mental stimulation or stress before bed is also important, especially staring at a a bright screen (TV, computer). To this end, taking the TV, computer and even the iPhone out of the bedroom will help with having a more peaceful night.
- Alcohol, while it may initially make you feel sleepy, can cause restless sleep and frequent waking throughout the night.
- Any foods containing Caffeine should be avoided in the afternoon and evening.
- Learn to relax by developing a bedtime ritual. This may include a warm bath or soft, calming music to help prepare for sleep.
- Practice stress reduction techniques such as gentle stretching, meditation, or deep breathing.
- If you wake up hungry in the middle of the night, try a light pre-bedtime snack that contains sleep supporting calcium and magnesium (almond or peanut butter with banana, greek yogurt, cottage cheese). Avoid heavy meals right before bed.
- If anxious or repetitive thoughts are keeping you awake, make it a practice to write them down before bed. If thoughts wake you up, write them down and tell yourself you will look at them again in the morning.