Sleep. It seems like a simple human function but for some reason so many of us have been struggling to get it these days. Whether it's busy schedules, runaway thoughts, chronic pain, or too much screen time, about one third of Canadians are not getting enough sleep for optimal mental and physical health. So how can you get better sleep? Well... everyone is different and working with a healthcare provider (like your friendly Hamilton naturopath) to get to the root cause of what's keeping you up at night is always the best way but here are some general tips that may can get you more restful, restorative sleep.
Cold. Wet. Socks. These three words can make my adult patients cringe and my pediatric patients run but I actually think this treatment is magical. I've seen it do wonders for all kinds of ailments from colds and runny noses to sleep issues and allergies. Once I finally convince patients to try this, it becomes their go-to as well. So how does it work? Take a pair of cold, wet, cotton socks, put them on your feet (yes, you can do it) then put on a pair of dry wool socks (it's imperative that they are wool), go to sleep and in the morning you should feel rested and the socks should be dry. Not convinced by my "it's magic" explanation? Send me an email and I'd be happy to explain the theory behind this wonderful treatment.
Have a bath
Yeah, yeah we've all heard this one, but did you also know that your body's drop in temperature after the bath allows for a deeper sleep. Just make sure you're having the bath about an hour or two before your head hits the pillow. Add a little epsom salt (magnesium sulfate helps to relax the muscles) and a couple drops of lavender essential oil (helps to relax the mind) and you've got yourself a perfect concoction for a good night's sleep.
Have a bedtime ritual
It doesn't have to be a full-out dramatic ceremony but of course go right ahead and do that if that's your vibe. It can be as simple as having a nice herbal (not to state the obvious, but no caffeine before bed!) tea as you wind down from the day or having that bath we talked about. Having a regular routine around bedtime helps remind your brain that it's time to sleep.
Get outside and get moving
Hormones that affect your sleep like melatonin are affected by sunlight so getting out in the sun will help regulate these hormones and get you sleeping better at night. Exercise can help increase the duration and quality of sleep by reducing stress. Regular exercise can even reduce your risk for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
Put down that phone and get off that computer!
But Felicia I have a blue light filter! I need to answer my emails before bed! I've heard and myself have used all of the excuses. Blue light filter or not, screen time (watching videos, answering emails, scrolling through Facebook) is stimulating so next time you're feeling the need to be on a screen before bed, bring some awareness to why you're on the computer and ask yourself whether or not it's worth missing out on a good night's sleep.
Let me know what tips and tricks you've used to help you sleep. If want to learn more about sleep and how naturopathic medicine can help, come out to our free workshop on March 14 or if you'd like to work together on your own sleep, book an appointment with me at the Rosedale Clinic.
Chaput, Jean-Philippe, et al. "Duration and Quality of Sleep among Canadians Aged 18 to 79, Government of Canada", Statistics Canada, 20 Sept. 2017, www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2017009/article/54857-eng.htm.
Liao, Wen-Chun, et al. “Effect of a Warm Footbath before Bedtime on Body Temperature and Sleep in Older Adults with Good and Poor Sleep: An Experimental Crossover Trial.”International Journal of Nursing Studies, vol. 50, no. 12, 2013, pp. 1607–1616., doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2013.04.006.
“How Exercise Affects Sleep.” Sleep.Org, sleep.org/articles/exercise-affects-sleep/.