Trouble sleeping? Read this.

21st February is Healthy Lifestyle Awareness Day. So when I was pondering about what gems of wisdom to share with you today, I thought, everyone speaks about diet and exercise but there are other important factors that are not given the same attention but are a huge problem to a lot of people and one of them is sleep. For some reason, more and more people are really battling with insomnia. And besides it being really frustrating to be lying awake at night, we just have to sleep for optimal health – it’s when our bodies rest, heal and repair. We need at least 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep. Not getting this can lead to ill health. So what do we do about elusive sleep?

Well, I can tell you what not to do to start with and I want to say it upfront because it’s most people’s first port of call. Don’t take sleeping pills. Especially the ones with chemicals in it and not natural substances. They are bad for your health, don’t give you actual restful sleep and are very addictive. Many doctors prescribe it for acute insomnia and they can be useful if taken in small doses for a short while. If you need to take something, especially for a longer period, a better option is a natural product like chamomile tea or Valerian root which is very effective.

The best way though to aim for a good night’s sleep is to create a conducive lifestyle. The first thing is creating a healthy circadian rhythm. Your body responds to light and dark cycles and is programmed to be awake and rest accordingly. It is essential to get enough bright light exposure during the day and on the opposite end, you need to avoid bright artificial lighting after sunset, as light will impair your melatonin production. This is very difficult with our lifestyles so at least try and dim the lights at least an hour before bedtime.

Also, try to sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room, such as that from a clock radio LCD screen, can disrupt your internal clock and your production of melatonin and serotonin, thereby interfering with your sleep. So, close your bedroom door, get rid of night-lights, cover any LCD screens and your windows. Then, keep your room temperature at around 21 degrees celsius.  Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may be more conducive to sleep, since it mimics your body’s natural temperature drop.

The next point is very important to take note of because almost everyone is guilty of this:  Eliminate electric and electromagnetic fields in your bedroom. EMF exposure has been linked to neuron changes that affect memory and your ability to learn and they also harm your body’s mitochondria, so sleeping in EMFs all night, every night, can cause or contribute to virtually any chronic ailment, including premature aging. Put your cellphone off at night. If you need it for your alarm, put it on flight mode and keep it as far away from your bed as possible. Also, turn your WiFi off at night. It’s harmful to your body and you don’t need Wi-Fi while sleeping, so this is a wholly unnecessary exposure that is easily remedied by turning it off. And remove the television, computer, laptop and digital clock from your room. Keep your room free from all this and it will definitely contribute to giving you a better night’s sleep.

If you do all this and you’re still struggling, there is something else going on and it’s usually happening inside of you. The biggest enemy to sleep is stress, worry and anxiety. All these negative thoughts just keep going around in your head and you wish you can shut it off. It’s awful. If you don’t address these, it’s very likely that you’ll never be able to conquer your sleeplessness. It’s one of the things I offer in my life coaching, so contact me for a free session.