March is National Bed Month (www.sleepcouncil.com). That got me thinking about sleep.
It really is one of the most important pillars of good health. Poor sleep can reduce the effectiveness of your immune system, make it hard to concentrate and remember things and generally blight your life.
There are many causes of insomnia and poor sleep. Are you waking up sneezing or with runny eyes or a blocked nose? You may have a dust mite allergy and a hypoallergenic pillow and mattress cover could help.
Are you too hot or too cold? If the temperature under the covers is wrong, then it can be hard to get to sleep or you could get woken up in the night.
Don’t consume fluids less than an hour before bedtime. A warm drink may help you get to sleep, but it could have you running for the loo at 2am.
Only sleep at bedtime. Naps during the day can really disrupt your sleep patterns. If you are really tired, having a dose during the day may seem like a good idea, but if you suffer from insomnia, it can lead to you being awake at night and start a vicious circle.
Associate your bed with sleeping. This may seem like a daft thing to write, but if you go to bed to “rest” or listen to the radio or you read for hours in bed before trying to sleep, then you can begin to connect waking activities to being in bed.
Empty your mind. Try not to do anything too exciting in the hour before bedtime. This can get your mind racing and make it hard to sleep.
Relax. Strenuous activity may be tiring, but it is also stimulating and exercising just before trying to sleep can keep you awake longer.
Go to bed at the right time. A routine is often helpful in beating insomnia, but if you go to bed at the wrong time for your body, either too early or too late, you can end up looking at the ceiling for a very long time. It may be that you need to fight the urge to go to bed for an extra half an hour or that you are staying up too late. It’s worth trying to move the time that you go to bed.
I do treat patients specifically with symptoms of poor sleep and insomnia, but interestingly, most patients report improved sleep patterns following treatment, regardless of whether they are being treated specifically for sleep problems or not. One of the added benefits of acupuncture and the holistic approach.