The most important factor in promoting health and wellbeing is adequate, restful sleep (ideally 6-8 hours a night) that allows the body to enter an anabolic state (see Adrian’s article) in which it can rejuvenate. Our immune system is boosted during sleep and muscle mass and bone density are increased. Unless our bodies can rejuvenate in this way we cannot function well and our health begins to decline.
One of the main reasons for poor quality sleep or insomnia is chronic stress and trauma. These cause the brain to become hyper-aroused, which affects the balance of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). Simply put, the ANS controls all the body’s functions such as heart rate, digestion, breathing, urination, sexual arousal and swallowing. When the ANS is not in balance, all the other systems in the body suffer. If not properly dealt with, chronic stress and trauma cause the release of aging or death hormones (such as cortisol and adrenaline) while reducing the release of youth hormones (such as growth and sex hormones).
Here are a few suggestions for getting restorative sleep:
Keep to a routine. Try to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time, preferably early. Our natural circadian rhythm encourages us to wake up when the sun rises and sleep when it sets.
See a certified EFT or Matrix Reimprinting practitioner to release stress and eliminate cellular memory of traumatic events. You can learn to use this technique on yourself before going to bed or when you wake up in the night. EFT is simply acupuncture without needles and involves tapping on points to release any stressful thoughts. Go to our website for more information on stress, and for releasing past trauma.
Sleep in complete darkness even a small amount of light (such as light from a clock radio) can disrupt your internal clock and affect the pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin. If you need to get up in the night, try not to use the light. Even small amounts of light pass directly through your optic nerve to your hypothalamus which controls your biological clock. Light signals your brain that it’s time to wake up and prepare for ACTION. The most comfortable eye mask I’ve ever come across is made by Bucky.
Use ear plugs if you live in a noisy environment or you have a partner who snores. These earplugs are amazing! They are comfortable and block out just about any noise. Be warned however. You may not hear your alarm clock or the phone when you have these in! They can be ordered on Amazon.
Do not eat or drink after 8 p.m. – preferably 7 p.m. Ideally you should not eat later than three hours before going to bed in order to have truly restful sleep. If you stop eating by 7p.m. you will also find it easier to lose weight. Cutting out liquids two hours before bed will reduce the chances of waking at night to urinate.
If you really need something in the evening, have a high protein snack several hours before bed. This will help with the production of L-tryptophan, an amino acid necessary for the production of the hormone known as melatonin. The pineal gland in the brain converts melatonin into serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter known to promote sleep as well as enhance our sense of wellbeing. Above all, avoid grains and sugars before bedtime. They will raise your blood sugar levels, delaying sleep. Later in the night, when the blood sugar drops too low, you may wake up and have difficulty falling back to sleep.
The above are just a few suggestions to help you achieve better sleep. Looking at stress levels, diet, exercise and your sleep routine can all make a profound difference. In addition, at The Body Group we can also offer additional modalities such as acupuncture and cranial-sacral wor