Insomnia is becoming more and more widespread. Between the fast pace of life, designer coffee shops on every corner, and exposure to electromagnetic radiation from all of our devices, it’s no wonder. An estimated 1 in 3 Americans is getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night; 83 million consider themselves sleep deprived.
Why is sleep important?
During sleep we recharge our bodies in every way: we repair tissues, improve metabolic function and balance hormones, recalibrate the master clock in the brain, remove toxic waste products, integrate life events often as dreams, and generally restore homeostasis.
How much sleep should we get?
- Preschoolers need between 10 to 13 hours
- School-age children between 9 to 11 hours
- Teenagers from 8 to 10 hours
- Adults from 7 to 9 hours and
- Seniors 65 and older from 7 to 8 hours
Lifestyle recommendations to improve sleep:
- Avoid stress and excess obligations. This is a big one. Being overscheduled and overstimulated is a huge contributor to poor sleep and it isn’t sustainable. Learn to prioritize and put your energies into what’s important to you. You can actually be too tired to sleep!
- Participate in a balanced exercise program which includes high intensity short bursts (which enhance growth hormone release) and work the major muscle groups as part of strength training.
- Avoid exercising late at night.
- Take a warm epsom salt bath to relax your body and soothe your nervous system. A few drops of lavender oil added to the salts will enhance this effect.
Physical environmental considerations:
- Sleep in a totally dark environment. This includes shading or removing lights from phones, alarm clocks, night lights, etc. Total darkness helps reset the pineal gland, which regulates the timing of sleep.
- Make sure the room is cool (for most 60-67 degrees) but you are warm. For many, this means wearing socks to bed.
- Avoid watching TV and using electronic devices after 7-8 pm, depending on how sensitive you are.
- Wrap up any work at least 2 hours before bed, to allow your mind to transition to a more relaxed state.
- If you need to use your computer or device, switch to the night function or wear amber or red glasses that block out the blue light.
- Replace the LED and fluorescent lights in your home with incandescent bulbs, as they emit less of that harmful blue light.
- Minimize EMFs at night. Put your devices, yes, even cell phone, in another room and if possible, shut down your WiFi.
- Develop a nightly routine that includes a hot epsom salt bath, stretching, gentle yoga, The temperature drop from a hot bath is in itself very relaxing.
- Practice stress relieving activities during the day, such as deep breathing and mindfulness breaks. This practice helps maintain the stress hormone, cortisol, in its normal range so you don’t arrive at the e