Are you sleeping like a baby?

Many people have problems with sleep, either falling asleep, staying asleep or getting a good quality ‘sound’ sleep. The underlying reasons can be many and varied, and may include body/structural issues, allergies or food intolerances, stress or anxiety, pregnancy, hormonal imbalances, lifestyle choices, medication, environmental influences and parental duties.

In my own experience I think nothing is more debilitating and stressful than long term sleep problems. As a mother of two young children I have gone through two periods of time where I either wasn’t getting enough sleep, or it was poor quality. One of these periods lasted 10 months and I really felt as though I was losing my mind. I became obsessed with sleep. Every morning I would work out how many hours I’d had, think about how I could squeeze in a nap during the day, worry about the night ahead. It affected my moods, family life, social life and relationships.

I started receiving regular kinesiology treatments during this time … thank god! Otherwise I’m not sure how I would have coped. The funny thing is that I never actually got balanced around the lack of sleep itself, but the kinesiology sessions helped me sleep better and the kinesiologist coached me to look after and support myself during this challenging time.

I’m always amazed to hear my clients talk about how our kinesiology sessions have helped improve their sleep when we we’re not actually working on sleep issues during their sessions! I guess it is a bonus side effect of getting a kinesiology balance.

Aside from kinesiology, there are some common sense measures you can put in place to help you have a good night sleep:

  1. Turn off phones, iPads, iPhones, computers and even the TV 30 minutes before you go to bed.
  2. Aim to go to bed by 10 p.m. and try to do this every day. Did you know each hour of sleep you get before 12 a.m. is equal to 2 hours of sleep after 12 a.m?
  3. Avoid caffeine after 3p.m. Caffeine includes tea, coffee, cola and energy drinks.
  4. Avoid alcohol, if possible, six hours before bed. Alcohol actually interferes with normal sleep patterns by disrupting neurotransmitters (nerve chemicals) in the brain that control or regulate sleep.
  5. If possible, aim to have dinner before 7 p.m. If you eat dinner after 7p.m. watch your portion sizes.
  6. Don’t exercise 30 minutes before going to bed (this excludes sex). Include a more relaxed form of exercise into your routine – yoga or tai chi.
  7. Try meditating before settling down for the evening.

Some further considerations if your sleep problem is long-term:

  • If you are regularly waking around 2-3 a.m. this could be a sign your liver is working overtime. This is the time when your liver regenerates and it needs glycogen. Adrenaline causes your cells to use up glycogen. So if you’re regularly stressed, your body may not have enough glycogen for the liver to regenerate. Alcohol, caffeine and medications need to be broken down or detoxified by the liver so keep that in mind.
  • If you often have unsettled sleep, regularly waking, and it is not due to children, it could be something in your diet. The first culprit I always think of is gluten.
  • You could consider supplementing with calcium and magnesium. Consider GNLD’s “Cal-Mag”
  • See a good naturopath or herbalist to get herbs prescribed. The type of herbs will depend on the cause of your sleep problems. Some good generic herbs to help with sleep include Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), and Valerian root (Valerian officinalis).

Most people have experienced insomnia or sleeplessness at one time or another in their lives. But if you have had long term problems then don’t suffer in silence. Go see a kinesiologist.