Everyone has problems falling asleep everyone once in a while, but when it becomes chronic it not only makes one feel like Oscar the Grouch on Seasame Street, but lack of sleep can cause serious health issues such as including increased chances of diabetes, obesity, heart Disease, blood pressure and depression not to mention, aching muscles, headaches, irritability, ADD/ADHD symptoms, memory loss and the general sense of not feeling that you are at your best for your family, your friends or at work.
So what can one do to get better sleep and find some natural things to improve the qualitly of sleep rather than resorting to sleeping pills?
Some estimate that one-third to up to one half of americans are missing this important part of the health equation.
Unfortunately Americans are addicted to quick fixes…and finding something to solve their sleep issues are no different. So what do most Americans do? They pop a pill to fix the problem.
Sounds simple and you ask what harm can it do? Seriously? Have you ever read the label if it is over the counter or have you read the drug insert if you are on prescription sleep medications?
Did you know that sleeping pills are classified as Sedative Hypnotics, including Benzodiazepines, barbiturates and various hypnotics.I bet you didn’t know that you were on hypnotics.
All Sleeping pills have potential dangers, especially the potentially addictive Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Librium, which are actually prescription medications for anxiety; however, are sometimes prescribed for sleep as they also cause drowsiness.
If you take Lunest, Sonata, Ambien and Rozerem you are taking a Sedative hypnotics that causes sedation by depressing the entire central nervous system . Barbituates are commonly used in anesthesias.
Please read the label before you even take them occassionaly. I mentioned some of the side effect but additional ones range from minor headaches, lack of ambition, depleted sex drive and more to even more serious side affects such as ADHD, difficulty breathing, swallowing, fainting, irregular heartbeat, even suicidal thoughts. There are also reports linking cancer and Dearth ot some sleeping drugs.
Did you know that sleeping pills make your breathe more slowly which results in less oxygen? Our air contains 20.9% of oxygen so if you are not keeping your oxygen saturation level in your blood in the upper 90’s you may experience porblems with muscles, organs because of deprived oxygen.
Did you Know that when you are sleeping pills for a while that your body develops tolerence to it and eventually you end up with difficulty sleeping again. And you may end up physically or psychologically addicted or dependend on these drugs.
Just the thought of going to bed without your sleeping pill may give you some anxiousness reducing your ability ot fall asleep.
Try these Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep
Rather than a sleeping pill these tips will privid a natural way to sleep better so you no longer have difficulty sleeping at night. You can improve your quality of sleep better than any sleeping pill.
1. Avoid napping unless they’re 20 minutes or less and early in the day which can be rejuvenating. If you are tired later in the day it is better to exercise like going for a brief walk and or drink a glass of ice water.
2. Avoid blue NIGHT Lights. I remember when one of my grandsons was small I saw a baby jump seat at my son’s house. I made a comment about the flashing blue lights and my daughter in law reminded me that it was to stimulate babies that were sleepy and didn’t want to eat…that is why they kept it off my grandson’s jump seat…too much excitement for him.
Also remember that other sources of blue light comes from cell phone, PDA’s, digital bedside clocks ( not only do these put of a blue light but is increases the EMF (electro magnetic fields- a nother topic for another post) TV of computers in the bedroom. Try turning these devices off an hour before going to bed. If you have electronics in your bedroom, put black tape over any distracting lights that you don’t need regularly. While this gets rid of the blue lights it doesn’t get rid of all the electromagnetic fields it creates which also can disturb sleep.
Get Rid of the computer or office in your bedroom. If you link work with sleep then your mind will associate the two and it is hard to relax.Even get rid of balancing your check book in the bedroom and talking on the phone…your mind will associate stressful things when you are ready to go to sleep at night.
This tip may not be for the frugal minded but we sleep best when the temperature is between 68-72 degress. Let’s face it it is hard to sleep when you are too hot. Keeping ceiling fan is helpful.
3. White Noise machine– what is that? My daughter introduced that to me when her first child was born. It is a round machine that sounds like a hair dryer on low…you can adjust the air flow…but this keep the other distracting noises out of the bedroom if you are light sleeper.
4. Go to bed tat the same time every night- go to bed and wake up the same time every day…including weekends.Your brain gets use to this so it knows when to go to sleep and when to wake up. This helps you go to sleep and stay asleep as well.
5.Dark room– when we moved back from the country where everything was very dark -no city lights and no noise…I had a big transistion moving back to a large city. Before I just didn’t realize that the city never really got dark so I had to buy some curtains to cover the blinds. Our brain produces a hormone called melatonin when light decreases. Many find that as they get older adding a time release melatonin is helpul. SO AVOID BRIGHT LIGHT SOURCES before you go to bed. If you have the luxury…better to wake up when it is light. You wake up quicker.
6.Cut the Caffeine after 3 PM. Some say noon is better. You don’t want to go to sleep with traces of caffeine in your body. It will interrupt deep sleep cycles which are restorative you body. So you can sleep enough hours but not sleep well during that time if you are on caffeine overload. And for Heaven’s sake stay away from the dangerous energy drinks.
Today’s hectic world with information overload can get your brain on overload and if you didn’t sleep well the night before you subconscious mind begins to sound the alarm…saying well last night you didn’t sleep well..I don’t want that to happen again.
So you beging to worry and question your ability to perform at work or have enough energy to chase aroud a small active toddler etc. In fact part of brain goes into a fight or flight mode…this produces cortisol and adrenaline from that stressful thought. Remember the body doesn’t know the difference between real or imagine. It reacts the same. So your body responds to the FEAR as a result of sleeplessness.
Here are a couple of other things that are helpful for sleep
7. EXERCISE. There is nothing better than exercise except a good sleep. Being fit improves your sleep qualitly. Of course you want to make sure you don’t exercise right before you go to bed. You need enough time between exercise and sleeping to calm down the extra energy from exercise. Make sure you have a couple of hours between exercise and sleep.
8.Ditch the Heavy foods. Eating a big meal before bed is a big NO NO. It take more energy to digest and disturbs sleep. And of course if you are sleeping the food you ate late at night turns into fat. It is okay to have a few complex carb however.
9. Bury your clock– at least somewhere where you are not looking at it. This hurts your sleep especially if you are clock watcher. Watching the hours and minutes pass just creates more stress. And stress creates stimulating hormones
10. Forget drinking a glass of wine before you go to bed. While a drink may make you sleepy alcohol makes you sleep lighter and wake up more frequently to visit the bathroom. Water a much better choice. And along with No alcholol if you smoke ditch that as well…nicotine is stimulating.
11. Let go of emotional and intellectual stuff before you go to bed…keep your brain too charged.
12. You pet lovers will not like me for this commnet…but get rid of the pooch in your bed. Pets not only bring dander and allergins but makes it more difficult to sleep.
Try these Herbal Supplement that can improve your sleep
For those of you that know me you know I would rather take something natural than a drug. Here are a couple of supplements that have helped me.
13. These Herbal Supplements may be helpful for a better night’s sleep. Shaklee makes a product called Stress Relief. This product is not necessarily made for a sleep aid but because it does cut the cortisol many people find that it works well for a better night’s sleep.
Valerian has been used for over a thousand years because it helps maintain a calm state, promotes relaxation, and is a natural means of promoting restful sleep. Shaklee Corporation has a product called Gentle Sleep Complex that combines the herb valerian and passion flower which has been traditionally used as a calming herb for anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and hysteria. Camomille also added to Shaklee Gentle Sleep Complex because it is a natural nerve relaxant.
As we get older we may need to add mealtonin. This is actually a hormone that your body makes when it gets dark. Now you understand why you need a dark room.
Your body has its own internal clock that controls your natural cycle of sleeping and waking hours. In part, your body clock controls how much melatonin your body makes. Normally, melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid- to late evening, remain high for most of the night, and then drop in the early morning hours.
Light affects how much melatonin your body produces. During the shorter days of the winter months, your body may produce melatonin either earlier or later in the day than usual. This change can lead to symptoms of seasonal light affectiveness disorder that bring depression.
Natural melatonin levels slowly drop with age. Some older adults make very small amounts of it or none at all
To a Better Night’s Sleep,