Train yourself to SLEEP!
Photo Credit: Julia Yellow
I can't tell you how many people I have had in office that are struggling with sleep! There are so many different treatment avenues for helping someone get to and stay asleep that should be personalized to address the individual's underlying causes of insomnia. However, I always try the least invasive approach first. That being said I'm providing this guide with the hopes that you will TRY THIS FIRST for sleep! I've had so much success with this method I may be shooting myself in the foot here...but I'd rather you try my first line suggestions BEFORE you get in office so we can troubleshoot from here!
Anyone who has raised children knows that we actually TRAIN babies to go to sleep. Of course some are easier than others, but there's something to this! My approach to insomnia is to first try "training" yourself back to sleep. This begins by creating a routine, just as we do for babes. This routine should include a set bedtime, whether you're a night owl and make this bedtime 1 AM, or whether you go down earlier, it's not about the time as much as it is about the routine. Next, we engage ALL FIVE SENSES to signal to your body that it's bedtime. Commit to yourself to at least 2 weeks, 14 days, of following the same routine before you consider a higher level intervention such as herbal or nutrient supplementation. By creating a routine, you encourage your body's natural cyclical rhythm and signals for sleep. Here are some of my suggestions:
1. SMELL- I recommend using essential oils as a form of aromatherapy for sleep. You can get an essential oil diffuser, make a spray for your pillow, add to lotion, or even just drop 1-2 drops in your hands rub together and smell. Here are some of my favorite sleep scents/blends.
- Lavender, Neroli, Peppermint
- Bergamot, Chamomile, Lavender
- Clary Sage and Wintergreen (unusual but TRY it!)
2. SIGHT- I strongly recommend discontinuing ALL screens for at least 30 minutes before bed. A book is fine but I would advise against a kindle or anything that projects light. If you must use screens, use an app such as Lux to eliminate blue light from the screen as this is stimulating to the brain. DARKNESS promotes the release of your body's natural store of melatonin (sleep hormone). This is why it's CRUCIAL to sleep in pitch blackness if possible.
3. TOUCH- I am a huge believer in splurging on bedding. This is one thing I don't hold back on! Make your bed the comfiest place in your home whether it's egyptian cotton sheets (I actually prefer jersey cotton!), a fluffy comforter, great mattress, or tons of pillows...make your bed one GIANT signal to your body to sleep! I also often recommend temperature changes to induce sleep. There's a reason we give babies a warm bath before bed! As your body heats up then cools again you will feel tired.
4. TASTE- Herbal tea is the winner here for me! A small cup of herbal tea an hour before bed is a nice way to train your brain to relax. I recommend some of the better known favorites like chamomile/lavender/valerian and some less popular such as kava kava, catnip, or passionflower. There are even some toothpastes on the market that have a milder flavor since the stronger mints can be stimulating. Consider your tastebuds before bed!
5. SOUND- This seems to be a highly personal in preference. I enjoy complete silence before bed, but others may respond better to soft music such as harp (much like a lullaby!), nature sounds, subliminal messaging
tracks, or even white noise! Whatever you decide on, make it a habit! Remember, 2 weeks, same routine. I suggest shooting for a 15 minute period of sound therapy before bed.
OK Insomniacs! The above is your mission, should you choose to accept it : ) Next level step...make an appointment with me to figure out WHY you're not sleeping and use naturopathic healing methods to help. BOOK AN APPOINTMENT HERE: