Let us start by explaining what Insomnia is. According to the American Sleep Association, “Insomnia refers to trouble falling or staying asleep. It can affect someone for a short time, such as a few nights or weeks. In other cases, Insomnia is chronic and can last for months or years” (American Sleep Association, 2017). “An estimated 30%-50% of the general population is affected by insomnia, and 10% have chronic insomnia” (Sleep Management Institute, 2010).
A question many people asked is, “How much should I be sleeping?” Sleep is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being. We spend up to one-third of our lives asleep, and the general state of our “sleep health” remains an essential question throughout our lifespan. Most of us know that getting a good night’s sleep is necessary, but too few of us make those eight or so hours between the sheets a priority. For many of us with sleep debt, we have forgotten what “being really, truly rested” feels like” (Natural Sleep Foundation, n.d.).
Recommended average sleep
- Newborns (0-3 months) – 14-17 hours each day
- Infants (4-11 months) – 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years) – 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5) – 10-13 hours
- School-age children (6-13): – 9-11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17) – 8-10 hours
- Younger adults (18-25) – 7-9 hours
- Adults (26-64) – 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+) – 7-8 hours
Not many of us are meeting the mark for recommended sleep based on our age, and so many of us might be feeling the adverse effects of lack of sleep during our waking hours.
Side effects of sleep deprivation
- Poor concentration and focus
- Difficulty with memory
- Impaired motor coordination (being uncoordinated)
- Irritability and impaired social interaction
- Motor vehicle accidents because of fatigued, sleep-deprived drivers
Natural and effective ways to get the sleep you need
Diet and Nutrition
Dr. Axe, a naturopathic doctor, and nutritionist believes that diet is crucial for sleep deprivation. He argues that consuming sugars and carbohydrates before bed can increase the body’s temperature to burn those sugars off, which is disruptive to sleep. He advises limiting these carb-rich foods several hours before bed for optimal sleep.
Like avocado or sugar-free yogurt, healthy fats are excellent choices for late-night eating because they are high in relaxation-inducing nutrients, such as magnesium and potassium. There are great beverages that can provide these helpful nutrients!
Set A Routine
A routine is an essential element when considering a healthy sleep pattern. Setting and following a sleep schedule can help increase the likelihood of falling and staying asleep
If you are a night owl, the suggestion is to subtract 15 minutes a night to your slowly regular sleep time until you reach your bedtime goal. As for getting up, hands off that snooze button! It is essential to rise at the same time each day without the fallback of the alarm. The idea is that you get used to the wake-up time, without interruption.
The Natural Sleep Foundation lists exercise to combat Insomnia. They explain that “exercise triggers an increase in body temperature and the post-exercise drop in temperature may promote falling asleep. Exercise may also reduce insomnia by decreasing arousal, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Insomnia is commonly linked with elevated arousal, anxiety, and depression, and movement has strong effects on reducing these symptoms in the general population.
Exercises related to better sleep include:
Reduce Stress with Meditation
Stress is one of the leading causes of Insomnia. In turn, by reducing stress, adequate sleep is possible. One way to reduce stress, says Dr. Axe, is being mindful of the breath.
“Slow, deep breathing actually helps the body override the sympathetic system, which controls our fight-or-flight response and lets the parasympathetic system — which controls our ability to relax — take the wheel instead. When you practice deep breathing while in bed, you are giving the body permission to quit being on high alert and, instead, to relax.”
Meditation is a great way to work on breath and focus on the body’s centering, which also helps relieve anxieties and stress. The Daily Meditation suggests trying some mantras in the evening to help fall asleep. A mantra is a phrase or sounds repeated over and over to soothe and relax the mind.
Here are some that The Daily Meditation recommends
“I am calm and still.”
“The world is sleeping, and all is well.”
“I welcome sleep into my being.”
“I am breathing deeply and calmly, becoming more and more relaxed with each breath.”
Essential Oils for Better Sleep
“Essential oils can act by triggering the central nervous system and circulatory system to promote sleep in the body” (The North American Essential Oil and Aromatherapy Experts, n.d.).
Lavender Oil: a natural sedative with anti-stress and anti-anxiety properties
Cedarwood Oil: a natural sedative that decreases heart rate and has a soothing quality
Chamomile Oil: a natural sedative with anti-stress properties
There are several ways to incorporate essential oils into your nighttime routine…
- Diffuser- Add 2-4 drops of essential oil of your choice into a diffuser approximately 30 minutes in your bedroom before you go to sleep.
- In the Bath – Add 5-10 drops of the desired essential oil into warm running bath water before getting in.
- Air Freshener – Mix 1 cup of water and 4-5 drops of essential oil in a spray bottle. Mist around your bedroom before going to sleep.
- Foot Massage – To use essential oils on feet for sleep, add 2 drops of essential oil to 1 Tbsp. Of carrier oil. Massage the mixture on the bottom of the feet in a circular motion until fully absorbed.
- Direct Inhalation – A simple way to enjoy essential oils’ sedative properties is to inhale the bottle’s aroma directly. Hold the bottle 1-2 inches away from your nose and take several deep breaths.
We at Katas Health can help you make the necessary changes for better sleep, including Diet and Nutrition.
Here are some resources that we compiled for you:
1. Check-out our store for Essential Oils
2. Contact our office regarding nutrition and diet.
3. Recipe for Golden Milk for better sleep
4. Axe, Josh, Dr. (2014). “5 Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress and Improve Sleep”. 2/12/2018.
5. National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.) “Scary Ways Technology Affects Your Sleep.” 2/12/2018.