Do you often have trouble falling asleep at night or wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep? Do you get out of bed in the morning with brain fog and everything seems to irritate you? Roughly 60 million Americans are affected by the sleep disorder each year and most of them are women. That is 30-40% of Americans who walk around during the day suffering from sleep deprivation to some degree or another.
Many women I know are affected by insomnia including myself. I have witnessed how it affects their daily life in such a negative way. Lack of good quality sleep can cause brain fog, poor judgement, irritability, depression, mood swings among many other physiological issues in the body. It is important to seek help and find the right treatment the helps you get your Z's back on track.
It is very common for women in their 30's and beyond to have trouble sleeping. The three leading causes of insomnia is increased stress, hormone imbalance and mineral deficiency. In order to find out which hormones need to be increased or decreased, a hormone test can be ordered by your Naturopathic Doctor or a Medical Doctor. Also have a blood test performed by your doctor to determine if you have any underlying circumstances as to why you are not sleeping.
Reducing or managing stress is very important not only for sleep issues but many other health issues. Yoga, meditation and massage are very helpful and natural ways to control and release stress. Women tend to carry their stress in their hips and shoulders. A yoga pose that can help open the hips and release tension is “Threading the Needle” or “Half Pigeon”. Do these poses in bed, while deep breathing, before you get settled in for bed. Using a heated rice pillow around the neck and shoulders along with essential oils like lavender can help the body relax as well.
Minerals such as Magnesium are very important in relaxing the muscles and calming the body down preparing you for sleep. In fact, very often if a person has trouble sleeping they are likely to have a magnesium deficiency. A combo Calcium/Magnesium can help relax muscles as well as the brain. It may take up to 800 mgs of Magnesium glycinate and 1500mgs of Calcium citrate a day to rebuild your depleted storage of these minerals. Soaking in an epsom salts bath can be soothing and relaxing to the muscles and skin. Epsom salts contains minerals like magnesium and sulfate which are very relaxing minerals. The warm water opens up pores on the skin's surface allowing the minerals to be absorbed. It is a great way to melt the days cares away.
Valerian root supplements or Valerian teas have been used as a sleep aide for centuries and is very natural and safe. Take 300-500 mgs of Valerian root to help induce sleep in the body. Valerian can also be taken in combination with California poppy for beneficial REM sleep. Taking melatonin is also a great natural way to help with sleep. Melatonin is the body's natural sleep hormone so if your body is not producing enough of the relaxation hormone you might need to take a supplement. Talk to your doctor before buying an over the counter supplement if you are taking any other prescription drugs at they may have a negative interaction with one another.
Hormones can play a big role in sleep issues as women age especially if you are perimenopausal. These are the transition years before menopause that usually start in a woman in her 40's but can start in her 30's as well. The ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen and stop releasing eggs. They also produce less of the hormone progesterone which plays a role in orchestrating the benefits of sleep. Making an appointment with a your doctor or a compound pharmacist will help you get started with the correct dosage to use.
Eating dinner at least 4 hours before bedtime allows the body to digest food and not disrupt sleep. If hungry before bed, eat foods high in tryptophan (which promotes sleep) such as bananas, dates, figs, full fat milk or cream, nut butter, turkey or plain whole milk yogurt. Caffeine should be limited to 12 oz in a day and never consumed after lunch time. Certain medications have side effects that can cause insomnia as well. Consume an herbal tea such as Chamomile a few hours before bed to calm the nervous system. Avoid alcohol as it disrupts the sleep cycle.
Use the bedroom only for sleep – not for reading, working, eating or for watching any type of screen, like a TV , computer or tablet. Create a calming environment with dim lighting, some relaxing essential oils and white noise to block out sound that might keep you awake. Take out any electronics that send or receive wifi signals. Items like cell phones, computers or tablets emit radiofrequency energy (radio waves), a non-ionizing radiation from their antennas that can cause a disruption in your REM sleep patterns. The use of noise machines sometime help block out noise and create a more soothing distraction for the brain to drift off to sleep. I recommend the
And lastly, exercising regularly in the morning or afternoon can promote sleep and reduce insomnia. Exercise also improves your health in so many other ways which will also help improve sleep. When your body does not get enough sleep, the levels of the hormone cortisol increase. This is the stress hormone that is associated with weight gain and also activates the part of your brain that makes you hungry. Exercising may reduce stress levels and help lose weight which in turn helps promote a better nights sleep.
Sleep is essential to good health and longevity. Getting adequate sleep can help your immune system function at its optimal level and overall help you prevent disease along with a clean and healthy diet. Shoot for 8-9 hours every night if possible and make it a priority in your daily routine. You will be so glad you did.