How well you sleep can make or break the rest of your day. Even one night can make an impact on your mood, energy and brain function. But ongoing sleep issues can lead to more serious heath conditions down the road.
If you’re not sleeping well, sleep medications aren’t your only option. There are plenty of natural ways to support a good night sleep.
The factors that make up sleep
There isn’t just good sleep vs bad sleep – there are three main factors that affect how well or poorly you feel after a rest.
Quantity is the one that most people measure – how long you are sleeping for each night. Different people have different sleep needs, but most will fall in the range of 7-9hrs per night.
Onset is how long it takes you to fall asleep. We’ve all had those nights where the brain won’t quieten down, or we’ve had a cold or cough, and it’s taken hours to get to sleep. But some people experience this issue ongoing. Again, it can depend on the person, but ideally it takes you less than 30 minutes to fall asleep.
Then there is maintenance – how well you stay asleep once you are asleep. Ideally, you won’t wake at all during the night. If you do wake up because you need to go to the toilet or you hear a noise outside, you should fall back to sleep quickly. Unfortunately, many people have issues with waking frequently throughout the night.
What can affect how well we sleep?
Almost anything can affect how well you sleep, including your diet, lifestyle and current state of health. Some of the more common contributing factors we see in the clinic are:
- Thyroid issues – hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and autoimmune thyroid conditions
- Pain – acute pain, chronic pain and pain-related conditions such as fibromyalgia and endometriosis
- Adrenal issues – acute stress, chronic stress and adrenal fatigue states
- Digestive issues – bloating, gas, pain and discomfort
- Mental health concerns – anxiety, depression and bipolar
- Hormonal imbalances – perimenopause, menopause and related hot flushes
- Nutrient deficiencies and insufficiencies, in particular low iron levels as this can cause restless legs syndrome
- Caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Racing thoughts, or ‘monkey mind’
- Lifestyle factors – activity levels, use of electronics and medication use
Ways to support good-quality sleep
Ready to set yourself up for deep sleep every night? Here are some simple tips to get you started.
Manage your stress levels
Stress and your nervous system are intertwined. So when your stress levels are high, your nervous system keeps your body on high alert. This is not good news for your sleep!
Find a way of stress management that works for you. It might include techniques like yoga, meditation or journalling. If you’re struggling to cope with stress, a practitioner can help you put together an action plan.
Minimise electronics after sundown
It’s common to use electronics such as phones, TVs and computers in the evening. But these devices give off a blue light that can disrupt the production of melatonin, your main sleep neurotransmitter.
Put the devices away for at least 30 minutes before bedtime. If you do need to use them, look at blue-light blocking options like apps for your phone or programs for your laptop.
Eat your last meal early in the evening
If you eat late in the evening, your body is still digesting food as you try to sleep. For some, this can prevent sleep onset, especially if you experience symptoms like bloating. Whenever you can, eat your dinner at least 2 hours before bedtime.
Keep caffeine for the morning
Many people enjoy a cup of coffee or tea as they go about their day. But if you’ve been sipping on caffeine after lunchtime, you might be sabotaging your sleep.
Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, which is why it wakes you up and makes you feel more alert. But caffeine has a half-life of around 5-6 hours. That means that after 5-6 hours, half of it is still in your system. Some people who are sensitive to caffeine may feel the effects for even longer.
If you do include caffeine in your daily habits, have it in the morning hours. If you like a warm drink in the afternoon, try a caffeine-free herbal tea like a dandelion chia or dandelion latte.
Add some calming herbal tea
A warm drink at night is soothing, especially as the weather cools down. One ritual to add to your night routine is a cup of herbal tea.
There are plenty of calming and sleep blend teas that include ingredients like valerian, passionflower, chamomile and lavender.
Sip on some tart cherry juice
A simple way to boost your melatonin levels naturally is to drink some tart cherry juice. This juice has been shown to increase melatonin levels. Tart cherry juice can also help with issues that can affect sleep, such as sore muscles and chronic pain.
Make sure you look for 100% tart cherry juice with no added sugar. If you’d like, you can mix it up with some gelatin to make some homemade sleep gummies.
Book an appointment with one of our practitioners
Our practitioners are very experienced in treating sleeping issues. We take the time to listen and under the full extent of your sleeping problems. If you are sick of waking up tired every day, make sure you book an appointment to get better sleep once and for all!