6 Ways To Improve Your Sleep

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Sleep is one of the most vital body functions needed to support good health. If we are not getting enough sleep it can lead to emotional unbalance, mental burnout and physical weakness. Lack of sleep throws off our ability to make decisions and even increases the amount of calories we eat during the day. Sleep also supports the brain's ability to form new connections and pathways called neuroplasticity. Unfortunately, approximately 1 in 3 adults are struggling to get adequate sleep and their health is suffering because of it.  

If you have been struggling with trying to get a good night's sleep there are things you can do to help beat insomnia. The following are a few common and a few not so common solutions to getting the rest you need. Without adequate rest we can't achieve optimal health.  

 

Top 6 Ways To Improve Sleep

Screen Time 

Most of my patients and myself included expose themselves to a screen of some sort before bed. From phones, laptops to TV's it's what most people choose to do before bed. Unfortunately most of these devices use a type of blue light which stimulates the brain. This blue light tricks the brain to think the sun is up making it difficult for the body to fall asleep easily. Besides limiting this type of light in the evenings there are other things you can do to help yourself. If you need to be on a device that has blue light there are blue light glasses which block this light. If you get lots of natural light throughout the day by getting outside you are more likely to sleep well. A study with rodents showed that the more natural light they were exposed to throughout the day the more natural melatonin they released when going to bed.  

Social Media

Although closely related to blue light exposure mentioned above I wanted to bring up social media's effect on sleep. Studies are now showing a correlation with a shorter number of hours slept and poorer sleep quality in those using social media (Study). Social media is different than other screen time as it is more likely to stimulate emotional and psychological responses. Try to eliminate social media for 2 hours before going to bed and limiting the amount of time you spend on social media throughout the day.  

Stimulants

I personally am sensitive to stimulants such as caffeine and watch my consumption closely. Even when having a cup of coffee at 6:00 am my sleep that evening will be affected. One of my first suggestions for patients suffering with insomnia or poor sleep is to eliminate all caffeine for a short period of time. Everything from coffee, tea and even chocolate can harm our sleep. As each individual metabolizes caffeine differently you won't know how your body is reacting to this stimulant without testing yourself. Try for 2 weeks going caffeine free and see how your sleep changes.  

Stick To A Routine

Our body likes a routine. Trying to be in bed around the same time most evenings can really create a good habit in having quality sleep. I suggest to most of my patients to be in bed sleeping by 11:00 pm most nights. Most people need a minimum of 7-9 hours per night to achieve optimal health. Yes some of us can get by with less but we won't be at our best. Not only do we need that amount of sleep but when we sleep also makes a difference. Men who went to bed in the early morning but still had 8 hours of sleep developed an autoimmune disorder where they attacked their own sperm.

Supplements 

We are always looking for a magic pill that will solve our ailments. This is true with my patients suffering with insomnia as they will often ask "what can I take to make me sleep better?" Supplements can be very effective but need to be combined with the above suggestions if you are looking for long term relief.  Here are a few supplements which can be very effective at improving sleep quality.
 
  • Melatonin - This naturally occurring hormone regulates the sleep wake cycle. It is naturally released around the time we usually go to bed (for those that have a regular sleep routine). It can be effective to help people who have difficulty falling asleep but may not be as helpful supporting sleep duration. Melatonin is also a strong antioxidant which is why it is frequently suggested as a supplement to support fertility.  
  • Magnesium - This mineral helps to support deep restorative sleep as well as maintaining overall health. Magnesium helps to support normal levels of GABA which is a neurotransmitter that is important in sleep quality. If we do not have enough of this important mineral  our  sleep will be negatively impacted.  Magnesium also plays an important role in the health of our heart, bones, metabolism, mood and other essential areas of our health.   
  • L-Theanine - if you are overly sensitive to caffeine and it has negatively affected your sleep I would suggest limiting or eliminating consuming all caffeine. If you have accidentally consumed too much that day there is a supplement which can counteract the negative effects of caffeine. L-Theanine is a supplement which can help reduce insomnia if it is caused by consuming this stimulant.  
  • Ashwagandha - This herb is classified as an adaptogen which means it helps the body manage stress. If you are not sleeping well due to high levels of stress or anxiety this herb may be a good option for you.  (Study)

Acupuncture To Improve Sleep

Few people think to use Acupuncture when they are struggling with sleep issues but this treatment can be very effective to support quality sleep. When treatments are used specific to each individual patient a great improvement can be seen. Acupuncture regulates the nervous system and has a regulatory effect on the body. Studies have shown has Acupuncture can be effective on it's own to increase sleep quality. It has also shown that patients taking medications along with Acupuncture have better effects than doing medication by itself. More Information 
 

Insomnia Treatment in Vancouver, BC

Insomnia can be a very frustrating disorder affecting every aspect of your life. The good news is there are natural options which can help without side effects. The key is to find the right solution tailored to your specific needs. What works for one person may not work for the other. To learn more about our approach to the treatment of insomnia or to book an appointment please call a patient coordinator here at Acubalance.  
 
Best of Health
Ryan
 
Dr. Ryan Funk
Doctor of Chinese Medicine
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