January 03, 2024

Sleep And The New Year

As we head into 2024, we may have overindulged during the holidays and had some later nights. Getting our sleep back on track can be a challenge. Dr. Jennifer Yee shares some tips that may be helpful:

Have a sleep routine. Getting back to or introducing a sleep routine can be really helpful to restore our bodies’ circadian rhythms (our sleep and wakefulness cycles). A pre-bedtime routine can include relaxing caffeine-free herbal teas like chamomile, lemon balm and rosehips. Some people find meditation, deep breathing exercises or stretching to be relaxing. Some people like to take baths before bed (epsom salts added to the bath can help relax the muscles) while others may prefer some light exercise or stretching. Some people like to read or listen to music. The key is to find a routine that you personally find relaxing and that can take a bit of trial and error until you figure it out.

Turn off screens at least 1 hour before bed. Blue light wavelengths are emitted by the sun as well as LED screens (cellphone screens, TVs, tablets, computers, etc). Exposure to blue light can be beneficial during daylight hours because they can boost attention, reaction times and mood. However, at night, they can negatively affect sleep by inhibiting our body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel sleepy and supports REM/restful sleep. Powering down screens at least an hour before bed (ideally more) will allow the body to produce more optimal amounts of melatonin.

Skip the alcohol. Although, consuming alcohol may make some people feel sleepy and fall asleep more quickly, alcohol actually disrupts sleep cycles and results in a lower quality sleep. Consuming alcohol before bed, can leave you feeling groggy and tired the next morning and also dehydrated.

Consistency is key. Humans are creatures of habit and so are our bodies. If we maintain consistent sleep habits and routines, our bodies tend to follow a more reliable circadian rhythm, allowing us to feel energized but also sleepy when appropriate. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, even on nights where you do not have to go to school or work the next day. Be consistent with bedtime routines and eventually this will condition your body to produce supportive sleep hormones whenever you initiate your routine.

Consider additional supports. Some people may benefit from certain supplements, herbal remedies, acupuncture or other supportive treatments to encourage healthier sleep. Perhaps, anxiety, stress or ADHD are factors impacting sleep that could better managed. A naturopathic assessment and treatment plan can safely get you on a track to better sleep.

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