Nothing beats feeling well-rested. But a good night’s sleep is more than just a luxury. Quality sleep is essential to overall mental, physical and emotional health. In fact, studies show that people who are unable to rest well on a regular basis are more likely to be overweight, suffer from depression and memory/concentration problems, and have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

So how can you ensure you’re getting enough Zzzzzzs?

There are several things you can do naturally to increase your chances of better sleep.

Pay Attention to Daytime Habits

Choices made during daylight hours pertaining to diet, exercise, and sun exposure can radically affect the nighttime experience. Consider eliminating caffeinated beverages after 3 p.m., or earlier if you’re sensitive, since caffeine takes hours to completely run through your system. Avoid heavy, rich and spicy foods too close to bedtime. They take a lot of effort to digest and can cause heartburn or indigestion that make restful sleep more difficult. And although drinking alcohol and smoking are usually associated with relaxation, they actually do not make good sleep very likely.

Regular exercise, particularly the aerobic kind, not only tires you physically, but releases mood-boosting endorphins in your body, helping to relieve stress, depression, and anxiety, the absence of which make sleep easier to come by. Fortunately, however, you don’t have to train for marathons to reap the benefits. Moderate exercise like walking, swimming, and bike riding will do.

Exposure to sunlight not only provides us with valuable Vitamin D, but helps the body regulate melatonin and the sleep-wake cycle. Many people who spend all day in an office and evenings in front of a back-lit screen that may overstimulate them, may actually have days and nights reversed. Aim to get outside for at least two hours a day, and if that’s not possible, put your desk and chair near a sunny window.

Naps, while tempting to someone who doesn’t sleep at night, may make it even more difficult to fall asleep at bedtime. If you must nap (and sometimes we must!) try for earlier in the day and for 30-45 minutes at most.

Set the Scene for a Good Night’s Sleep

Once nighttime rolls around strive to create a relaxing bedtime routine and stick to it as much as possible. Keep regular sleep and wake times while trying to avoid sleeping in on the weekends. Before hitting the sack, wind down with a relaxing hobby, such as reading or listening to soft music, preferably without a back-lit electronic device. Take a warm bath or diffuse some sleep-friendly essential oils. All of this can still be done if you have small children in the house since they will benefit from a pre-sleep soak in the tub, bedtime story and lullaby as well. The trick is to keep things calm and relaxing.
To help ensure your sleep isn’t disrupted, try to keep noise, lights and the temperature low. White noise makers like fans or sound machines drown out snoring bed partners and barking dogs, low wattage bulbs before bed help keep your keep your circadian rhythm in check, and setting your thermostat a little lower can encourage deeper sleep by helping your body reach its optimal internal temperature faster.

Occasional sleepless nights are common, especially for people over 50. Stress and anxiety, restless legs or other pain, medication, snoring issues — including sleep apnea — and hormones, among other things, can cause temporary disruptions in sleep patterns. If any of these things become consistent and chronic issues, seeking help from a professional may be warranted. Dietary changes, relaxation techniques, supplements, acupuncture and/or sleep studies can address problems commonly associated with not getting enough quality rest, helping you get better, deeper sleep to improve your overall health and wellness.

If you are having trouble sleeping and are looking to explore a holistic option, contact us today for more information on our acupuncture services.