Better Sleep – the Natural Way
Sleep re-charges your body and is important for your overall balance, health and productivity.
In clinic I see many patients with insomnia and sleep disturbances. In your consultation, I will ask how many hours you sleep, when you go to sleep, whether you have problems falling asleep, staying asleep (and if you wake up, at what time and if you fall back to sleep easily), and whether your feel rested when you wake up in the morning. Your answers to these questions will contribute to your Chinese medical diagnosis which will enable me to tailor your treatment to the root cause.
Alongside acupuncture treatment, these are some of the suggestions I make for home care:
- Observe natural rhythms, go to sleep and wake up around the same time. Ideally go to bed by 11 p.m. so you reach deep sleep by 1 a.m., which is Liver time in the Chinese clock. Amongst other things, the Liver system has an important role in detoxifying Blood, so you want to rest and let it do its job.
- Limit caffeine intake (coffee, black and green tea) during the day or completely avoid it from between four to eight hours before sleep time. Caffeine triggers ‘Heat’ in the body, which is Yang, and you need Yin for sleep time.
- Limit alcohol – while one glass of wine might relax you, more can lead to loss of REM sleep.
- Exercise (or be otherwise active – a walk counts too!) to a suitable level during the day, ideally outdoors, to help your energy flow smoothly.
- Wind down the day – a couple of hours before sleep avoid stress, try not to eat any more and switch off electronic devices. Consider the effects of electromagnetic fields on sleep quality. Avoid intense exercise and over-stimulating activities before sleep time.
- Since the body cools as you slip into sleep, there is a trick to induce sleep by having a warm bath or foot soak before bed time. Not only is it relaxing (especially with Epsom salts added), but the body naturally cools afterwards, which it can mistake for the natural temperature change that accompanies sleep, so it might drift into sleep.
- Sleep in a darkened room, with no lights. Light affects melatonin secretion by the pineal gland and triggers our daily sleep/wake cycle.
- Massage your feet to re-focus your energy down from the head, if you have a busy mind.
- Try acupressure. Some patients work on Yintang if they find themselves lying in bed thinking too much. For jet lag, check out this article. You can also try falling asleep on an ‘acupressure mat’ – Yantra mat.
- Last but most importantly, don’t get angry with yourself if you are not falling asleep as fast as you’d like. Keep in mind that you are still resting even if you just lie there.
What are your tips for better sleep?