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10 Tips to Improve Your Sleep

Posted 5/12/2016 by UHBlog

Getting a good night’s sleep shouldn't be an impossible dream. We can help.

Why You Can’t Sleep

Some people are so good at sleeping they can do it with their eyes closed. But not everyone is so lucky. Lots of people have a hard time getting a ticket to dreamland as soon as the lights go out.

“We spend one-third of our lives sleeping and yet so many people have trouble achieving a solid night’s rest,” says naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist Lina Sbrocco, ND, MSOM, NCCAOM, Lac. “Poor sleep quality takes its toll on energy, mood, health, well-being and the ability to function during the day. It can also contribute to serious health problems.”

According to Sbrocco, some of the reasons why people wake up wired and tired are:

  • Stress, anxiety, depression and/or trauma
  • Use of electronic gadgets right before bedtime
  • Daytime napping
  • Stimulants like nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and/or hard drugs
  • Erratic sleep schedules caused by working nights or irregular shifts
  • Prescription drugs, such as blood pressure medications, diuretics, decongestants, thyroid hormones and/or antidepressants
  • Hormonal changes from the reproductive years to menopause
  • Chronic pain or physical problems
  • Natural aging which can affect an older adult’s sleep habits, causing some seniors to wake up frequently during the night or become sleepier in the early evening only to awaken earlier in the morning

“The good news is people with sleep issues are not destined to toss and turn every night,” Sbrocco says. “There are helpful natural remedies to combat sleep problems, both large and small, to help people get seven or eight hours of uninterrupted sleep so they can wake up rested and refreshed.”

Sbrocco offers these 10 simple lifestyle and daily habit tips to encourage better sleep habits.

  1. Develop a sleep routine. “Go to bed approximately the same time each night and wake up at the same time every morning,” she says. “Having a consistent bedtime reinforces the body’s circadian rhythm – an internal clock that governs the timing of hormone production, sleep, body temperature and other functions.”
  2. Avoid heavy or spicy meals at least two or three hours before going to bed. “A light snack an hour before bed is okay if you’re hungry or if you need the food for blood sugar regulation,” Sbrocco says.
  3. Turn off computers, tablets, smartphones, TVs and other electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. “The light emitted from these devices suppresses the body’s production of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin,” Sbrocco says.
  4. Avoid a nightcap. According to Sbrocco, alcohol is a proven sleep disruptor that causes frequent nighttime wakening.
  5. Wind down with a hot bath or mind-body therapies like tai chi, yoga, mindful meditation and aromatherapy.
  6. Drink a cup of warm, relaxing herbal tea before bedtime, such as chamomile, lavender or passionflower.
  7. Exercise during the day but not too close to bedtime.
  8. Keep your bedroom cool and free from noise and light.
  9. Focus on quiet, soothing activities like reading or listening to soft music.
  10. Acupuncture. “Eight weekly acupuncture sessions provides a safe and effective alternative to conventional therapies in restoring deep and restful sleep,” Sbrocco says. “Through a complex series of signals to the brain, acupuncture increases the amount of certain substances in the brain, such as serotonin, which promotes relaxation and sleep.”

Lina Sbrocco, ND, MSOM, NCCAOM, LAc is a naturopathic doctor and a licensed acupuncturist with University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network. You can request an appointment with Sbrocco or any other UH Connor Integrative Health Network provider online.

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