This month, the Sleep Council is launching National Bed Month – 31 days dedicated to highlighting improved sleep. Acupuncturist Ian Prytherch shares his advice.
Acupuncture is known to help improve sleep. Here are a few tips on how to get better sleep naturally along with an article on why insomnia is such a modern day problem (and how acupuncture is an effective remedy).
Tips on how to sleep better naturally
Be screen time savvy
Exposure blue light (the light omitted from phones, computers and TVs) can limit the production of melatonin which is our sleep inducing hormone. I’d therefore recommend switching off your phone and TV at least an hour, preferably two hours, before going to bed
Watch what you drink
Avoid drinks like tea and coffee from midday (even earlier if you’re sensitive to caffeine!) as they continue to stimulate you for up to eight hours after intake. Swap for a caffeine free herbal tea instead – chamomile tea is especially great before bed because it actually promotes sleep. In addition to this you should avoid alcohol. Even though you might think a night cap might help you sleep it can interfere with the quality of your sleep.
Children usually have a strict bedtime routine to ensure they get the right amount of sleep, but for some reason adults don’t. Irregularities in when and how long you sleep confuses your body’s internal clock, so be conscious about maintaining a routine. I would suggest going to bed and waking up at the same time (even if you haven’t slept well). If you are suffering from sleeplessness try going for a brisk walk outside rather than having a power nap which will put you even more out of sync.
Make sure your bedroom is a relaxing sanctuary to help promote sleep. Your bedding should be clean and comfortable, clutter should be kept to a minimum and the room should be moderately cool in temperature. Don’t do anything except sleep and have sex in the room, so if you have a TV make sure to take it out.
Studies show that regular exercise is key to sleep, however be careful when you exercise. Rigorous exercise too close to bedtime actually has a stimulant effect on your body and can keep you up for hours. I’d suggest exercising in the morning or at lunch time instead of in the evening.
Write your worries away
Many people can’t sleep because they worrying about how they will deal with whatever may be concerning them. Rather than going to bed and mulling it over, instead try writing down a list of your concerns and how you will solve them in the day time. This will encourage you to go to bed feeling more in control. However one word of warning, don’t do this just before you get into bed.
Many people reach for over counter sleeping pills when they can’t sleep – but this is the worst thing to do. Many don’t work or even exacerbate the problem. Instead try a natural therapy like acupuncture to help you deal with sleeplessness. Acupuncture has a calming effect on the nervous system and brings the body into balance which in turn promotes sleep.
Insomnia – a modern day problem
‘I couldn’t sleep last night!’ is becoming an increasingly common phrase for Brits, especially women. In fact, a staggering six in ten British adults suffer from sleeplessness regularly.
There is a difference between someone who suffers from sleeplessness and an insomniac (habitual sleeplessness). A good way to gauge if you are suffering from a patch of sleepless ness or insomnia is to judge how you feel during the day. If you are often tired, have a short fuse and find it difficult to concentrate you probably are suffering from insomnia. On the other hand if you feel fine during the next day even though you feel like you had little sleep then you are probably not.
The Great British Sleep Survey, which was undertaken between March 2010 and June 2012, revealed that lack of sleep not only affects our ability to get some much needed rest, but also has both physical and emotional consequences that can affect us the next day. According to the study poor sleepers are; seven times more likely to feel helpless, five times more likely to feel alone, three more times more likely to struggle, twice as likely to suffer from fatigue, twice as likely to have relationship problems, twice as likely to suffer from a low mood and twice as likely to be less productive in the workplace. With all that in mind it’s understandable why people who suffer with insomnia are anxious about the condition.
Insomnia presents itself in different ways in different people – for some the inability to fall asleep is the most noticeable insomnia symptom, while others are unable to reach a deep level of sleep and are startled awake by every noise. Sometimes insomnia will last for a couple of weeks, but some suffer from it night after night for months as the effects of insomnia accumulate.
So why do so many of us suffer from insomnia? Well, our stressful modern day lives are partly to blame. Many of are so busy during the day that when our head hits the pillow we use it as time to reflect and consult on the day gone or the day to come. Subsequently we can be awake for hours unraveling our lives. Our brains then interpret this worry as meaning there is a threat to our lives and our system is flooded with adrenaline and cortisol to keep us alert. This would have kept our ancestors safe from wild animals, but in modern life just keeps us awake.
One very effective way to help deal with insomnia is acupuncture. This is because acupuncture has a calming effect on the nervous system. It clears obstructions in in the muscle and nerve channels, facilitates the flow of oxygen-enriched energy and relaxes the system. Common noted benefits of acupuncture include deeper breathing, improved digestive abilities, better sleeping patterns, decrease in various pains and a general sense of well being, which are all excellent treatments for insomnia.
Acupuncture as an insomnia remedy can greatly improve sleeping patterns, but in order to successfully and completely resolve sleep disturbance one must address all the contributing factors. Acupuncture helps to do this very effectively by treating the whole person and focusing on bringing the entire body into balance. Feeling rested, refreshed and a zest for life on waking isn’t a luxury its how we can all be with a little help.
To know more, you can visit Ian Prytherch website.