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Healthy Sleep Hygiene

When we hear the word hygiene, we rarely think of it in terms of our sleep, but in reality the two are closely linked. Healthy sleep hygiene can make an enormous difference in both the amount of sleep and the depth of sleep we experience. It will also encourage our bodies to fall asleep faster and stay asleep as well as decrease the length of time we spend awake if you do happen to wake up.

In March I was able to attend a continuing education course on sleep and dreams from a Chinese Medicine perspective. The instructor brought to light just how important what we do before bed is and all the best ways to encourage a deeper night’s sleep. Below is a list of ‘best practices’ to ensure you wake well rested tomorrow!

  • Stick to a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday even on the weekends. Here the goal is to establish distinctions between night and day; your body will respond.
  • If you suffer from insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, or difficulty staying asleep, avoid caffeine and alcohol. Alcohol will initially help you to fall asleep but will wake you up in the middle of the night because the liver will be working on processing the alcohol while you sleep instead of focusing on the other essential biochemical processes.
  • No naps! Now this may be surprising but this can greatly impact your sleep at night. If you do need to nap, keep it 20 minutes or less and only during the hours of 3 to 5 PM.
  • Do not go to bed unless you are sleepy.
  • The bed is only to be used for sleep or sex, this means no eating, reading, or watching tv in bed.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, relaxing, and cool to ensure the most comfortable environment possible. Avoid playing music.
  • Keep your phone or computer away from your head while you sleep; limiting EMFs is essential to promoting a healthy sleep environment.
  • Turn off all overhead lights at dusk and use lamps the rest of the evening; keep lights on only in the rooms you are in.
  • Get sun exposure everyday if possible.
  • Allow 3 to 4 hours between dinner and bedtime, if you need a snack choose yogurt and fruit.
  • Keep vigorous activity limited to the daytime and gentle exercise only in the evenings.

If you are still experiencing difficulty falling or staying asleep after trying these recommendations for a great night sleep try acupuncture! Chinese medicine is beneficial to treating the root cause of the disease allowing the body to use its innate ability to heal itself.  Often a course of weekly treatments of acupuncture and Chinese herbs will improve sleep greatly within 4 to 6 weeks.

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