Updated: Oct 15, 2020
Watching a baby sleep is a most beautiful thing!
So adorable (and quiet!) but most importantly, peaceful.
For those of us with insomnia, or those who experience trouble to fall asleep, that peace, is what we are searching for!
Lying in bed watching the clock, trying so hard to go to sleep you are making yourself angry, waking through the night, pacing the floor or lying as still as you can, so not to wake your partner. These are all the frustrations people with sleep issues face, many every night for long periods of time!
Our circadian rhythm, or 24 hour body clock, regulates our sleep pattern, but that’s not all.....it is linked to hormone release, digestion, body temperature and even aggression.
Sleep issues have been linked to many chronic health conditions, including diabetes, obesity, depression and Alzheimer’s Disease. Our daily activities are also affected, as we struggle to perform as we should.
This is why a good nights sleep is so important!
The ‘circadian switch’ (the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN) is located in the Hypothalamus of the brain, receiving information straight from the eyes. It is here, that we can influence our body clock to switch itself into rhythm, restoring our sleep pattern.
By showing the SCN it’s dark, it conveys a message to the brain, to make more melatonin, our sleep hormone. This sets the mood to sleep, making us drowsy.
So how can we affect the SCN?
One of the easiest ways to activate sleep, is to turn off the lights!
Not only are we wasting power, we are simulating day, which means reduced sleepy hormones! By simply having less lights on (and dimming where possible), we introduce the body clock to night.
Try it... after dinner, turn off all the lights, bar one, and see the difference!
This also relates to light stimulating activities, such as watching T.V and using computer screens. It is recommended not to participate in screen activities 2 hours before bedtime. But.....if you have to use that tablet, utilise the feature that changes the screen to warmer colours (Night shift for Apple users), as these won’t confuse your sleep pattern.
Other easy changes to make include;
1. Set up a bedtime routine!
Just like you would for a baby, a sleep routine allows your body to prepare itself to sleep. We teach babies how to sleep, perhaps its time you ‘relearnt’?
It could be darkening the house at 7pm, showering, then reading or stretching, before bed.
2. Use Essential oils
Essential oils calm the mind, whilst you prepare for bed. Our senses are incredible signals, to activate the shutting down process.
3. Polly put the kettle on!
There are beautiful sleep promoting teas. Herbs such as Chamomile, Passionflower, and Lemon Balm, to name a few. Singular, or in combination, sedative teas can send you into dreamland. Recommended cups for a therapeutic effect is 3 a day. Begin this mid afternoon and incorporate it into your nightly routine. There is nothing better than a herbal tea after dinner, whilst relaxing with your feet up!
4. Nibble on seeds.
A handful of sunflower seeds has been shown to prepare the brain for sleep as they are high in Vitamin B6, needed for the body to convert the amino acid Tryptophan into Serotonin, another sleep neurotransmitter. Remember to brush those teeth after...!
There are many more easy to introduce ways to improve sleep.
Those who have the occasional bad night, may only need small changes to reinstate your circadian sleep pattern. However, those with long term sleep disruptions, may require further help. The Naturopathic Care Clinic has the guidance you may need....