The naturopathic approach to sleep management examines every aspect that influences ones ability to get a good night’s sleep. These include environmental factors, routine, blood sugar, stimulants, sedatives, and psychological factors. By examining and addressing these factors many common sleep problems can be improved without more aggressive intervention.
There are numerous environmental factors that can either promote or prevent proper sleep. The optimal sleep environment is dark, quiet, and comfortable. The body’s internal clock is extremely sensitive to light/dark cycles and can easily be disrupted by sleeping in a room with ambient light from sources like clocks, street lights, night lights, and TVs. These factors may not only prevent one from falling asleep but also reduce the quality of sleep. Any source of noise, light, or smell pollution has the ability to sabotage sleep. Ensure that your sleep environment is free from mold, dust, dust mites and other sources of potential allergens by cleaning your bedroom and washing your linens weekly.
Following a regular routine is one of the most important things you can do if you have trouble with your sleep. The body operates on a natural cycle called the circadian rhythm. This rhythm controls when you sleep, wake, produce hormones, and perform cellular repair. For healthy sleep to occur it is vital for us to get in touch with our daily rhythm cycle. To recapture our natural rhythm get in the habit of going to bed at the same time each night and waking at the same time each morning. Also, incorporate a nightly bedtime ritual like bathing, deep breathing, or meditating as part of the bedtime routine.
Blood sugar irregularities around bedtime can interfere with your ability to have a proper sleep. If blood sugar is too low at bedtime the body may not be able to relax enough to fall asleep because it is preoccupied with balancing blood sugar. On the other side of the spectrum, many people eat too much too late in the evening and go to bed with relatively high blood sugar. This greatly interferes with deep sleep by delaying or preventing the release of hormones needed for proper cellular repair. If your diet is high in refined carbohydrates through the day and evening it is likely that unbalanced blood sugar is contributing to poor sleep.
To recapture our natural rhythm get in the habit of going to bed at the same time each night and waking at the same time each morning.
The use of stimulants to boost energy through the day has become commonplace in our society. Unfortunately there are some unwanted side effects of stimulants like coffee, energy drinks, and other energy pills that inhibit proper sleep. First of all, if you are using a stimulant within about 8 hours of going to bed it is possible that the stimulant is still working. Secondly, if you are using stimulants as a boost to keep you going when your tank is empty, your adrenal glands will suffer. When the adrenal glands begin to burn out other glands and organs in the body suffer as well. Your ability to create energy will decrease and your ability to sleep properly may be inhibited. Thirdly, the use of stimulants in place of proper nutrition contributes to blood sugar irregularities, which inhibits proper sleep.
Mental, emotional, and spiritual health are needed for one to be at peace. To fall asleep and get a good quality sleep one needs to be at peace especially around bedtime. If we are preoccupied with relationship problems, work, health, or financial concerns it is hard to find the inner peace necessary for good sleep. When stress weighs you down it is hard to sleep because the mind is racing, and when you do fall asleep you may wake often because the wheels are still turning. Our mind is the most powerful tool we possess and we have the ability to perceive things any way we choose. If stress or other mental, emotional, or spiritual concerns are causing or contributing to poor sleep address them and seek help.
The naturopathic approach to sleep management addresses the factors that prevent proper sleep from occurring. Identifying and correcting issues like bedtime environment, routine, blood sugar, stimulants, sedatives, and mental-emotional health are the cornerstone to improving sleep and overall health. Removing obstacles to proper sleep and improving overall health with naturopathic medicine allows the body to function better and promotes deep, peaceful sleep.