Balancing Yourself for Better SleepSep 14, 2013
Sleep disorders run rampant in our society. Also they become more commonplace in women as they hit perimenopause due to various hormonal influences. While the stress/cortisol imbalance accounts for what I believe is the majority of the sleeplessness we as a society experience, here are some helpful tips if getting a good solid 7-9 hours of deep sleep is elusive.
Getting proper sleep is extremely important to ones health as lack of sleep exacerbates psychiatric imbalances (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, mood disorders), depresses the immune system and increases the risk of mistakes and accidents while driving. Overall, lack of sleep impairs performance much in the same way that having a few alcoholic drinks impairs cognitive and motor performance. Of course sometimes poor sleep cannot be avoided as when caring for a newborn , but then the mothers who are breastfeeding get the added protection of oxytocin which helps offset the lack of sleep one gets when caring for a baby.
1. Manage your stress. If life is throwing a lot of challenges your way be sure to find healthy ways to destress. Yoga, meditation, exercise, massage therapy are often helpful tools to keep your neurotransmitters firing optimally. Which brings me to …
2. GABA , gamma amino butyric acid is a neurotransmitter that is naturally secreted by the brain. GABA has a sedating effect on the body and is available in supplement form. This can be taken at bedtime but be sure to check with your practitioner for proper dosages.
3. Warm milk and turkey contain the amino acid tryptophan which increases seratonin production. Seratonin is a mood elevator as well as a relaxer. Unfortunately tryptophan is no longer available in the United States as a supplement but its precursor 5-HTP is widely available.
4. Avoid reading the news or watching TV or movies before bed. This can also stimulate the brain in ways that are not conducive to sleep.
5. Perimenopausal women who are experiencing sleep difficulty should also look at their relative estrogen/progesterone balance. Women with too much relative estrogen and not enough relative progesterone often experience sleep problems especially premenstrually. Natural progesterones are more effective and have less side effects so consider a visit to your health practitioner if warranted.
6. Try and keep your bedroom exclusively for sleeping and sex. Reading, TV watching, working, computing in the bedroom can make it difficult to feel like you are retreating when you do everything else in that room as well. Also an uncluttered soothing atmosphere can also improve sleep.
7. A healthy diet lower in carbs and higher in proteins may also help to balance blood sugar and neurotransmitters as well as a lifestyle that includes regular exercise is also conducive to better sleep.
8. If you must work the night shift, please keep it to a minimum and try to find a better job as the nighttime is the time of the liver which aids in cellular repair and detoxification. Patients of mine who work the night shift almost always find that their health worsens even if they get their sleep during the day.
9. Sleep well my friends. Nighty -night!!!!