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Improving Your Sleep Health

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How's your sleep health? If you're not getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night, it could be robbing you of good health.  According to a recent Harvard Survey, most people are snoozing less than 6 hours a night due to our crazy and busy schedules. 

This is may be why obesity, high blood pressure, mood and behavior changes, and hormonal problems are affecting so many of us.

60% of adults in America report having some type of insomnia disorder.

40% of those individuals claim that their day-to-day activities are hindered because of daytime grogginess.

So let's look at why this may be happening and what we can do about getting more quality sleep.

Causes of Poor Sleep Health

The reasons why people have occasional insomnia could be physical, mental or emotional. Here are a few specific ones.

• Stress

• Alcohol consumption

• Too much caffeine

• Job that allows for little sleep (i.e. doctors, truck drivers, night shift workers)

• Traveling

• Environmental factors

• Health problems such as arthritis/joint pain, pregnancy, menopause, PMS, taking certain medications decongestants, steroids, antidepressants), depressive and anxiety disorders

If You Don't Snooze, You Lose

Depriving your body of proper rest lowers your natural body defenses.  Emotional stability is also affected, according to a study appearing in the October 22 issue of Current Biology, parts of the brain governing emotional responses were 60% more reactive in people who skipped a night's sleep.

Studies have also shown that tired people have a hard time making effective decisions. They also have a delayed reaction times that results in many car accidents.

Children 5-12 years old need 9-11 hours of rest and adolescents need 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours per night.

Children and teenagers who don’t get their required snoozing time usually see a drop in their grades. This can also result in depression and aggression. 

All these things are of course in addition to the physical health problems that can occur when a person isn’t getting optimum slumber time.

So how do we avoid these dangers and combat insomnia, without the use of potentially addictive prescription drugs?

Develop a Bedtime Routine

Creating a bedtime routine helps prepare your body for a good night's siesta.  Taking a warm bath or shower helps your body relax. Drinking a hot cup of herbal tea (chamomile)would also be a great bedtime ritual to calm and soothe both your mind and your body.

If you're not a tea drinker, natural herbal supplements like Valerian about a half an hour before bedtime usually work well.  A little reading from a good book is another way to help wind down and help prepare your body for rest.

Avoid caffeine, eating heavy meals, alcohol, and even smoking before bedtime.  Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every morning and evening.

Create a Better Sleep Environment

There are several things you can do to make your room a more suitable environment for a good night's slumber; a cooler room temperature, no television, and a darkened room will all be very helpful.

If your body is overheated, you will not be able to fall asleep. The television serves as a distraction, by not allowing your mind to rest.

Often people who work the night shift find it hard to doze off during the day.  This is because our bodies crave darkness in order to rest properly. In this instance, room-darkening shades would definitely be a good investment

Other Ways To Get More Sleep

Take Naps

If getting the recommended 7-9 hours every night is totally out of the picture, then try to get in small naps periodically. Even just a 20-minute “power nap” will rejuvenate you both physically and mentally.

If necessary take catnaps when ever you can to help make up the debt because the debt will not go away, it will just accumulate and ultimately have an adverse affect on your sleep health.

 Natural Aids For Improving Sleep Health

Valerian, an ancient sleep aid, supports the central nervous system and is well known as a natural relaxant. 

This herb decreases levels of stress and anxiety and enhances restful sleep.

It utilizes time-release technology to ensure 6-8 hours of peaceful sleep. Yet it does not leave you feeling groggy the next morning.

Are you under a lot of stress?  Are those frayed nerves hindering you from getting a good night's rest?  Go to your health food store and look for an all natural supplement that contains a B complex of vitamins.  That will help aid your body in relaxing and will help encourage restful night's sleep with no groggy morning side effects.

A knowledgeable person at the health food store can guide you to some products that combine a variety of herbs and vitamins that are helpful to sleep.  Melatonin is also very good for helping to set your body's internal clock and in helping you fall asleep.

Of course, eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise also play an important role in developing a healthy routine or pattern.  If all else fails you may need to consider a detoxification program.  A good natural practitioner can help guide you to a specific plan for your needs.

Incorporating some of these methods into your life should get you on the right track to getting your forty winks and and improving your overall health and well-being.

Other Sleep Health Resources

For more in depth information on this topic, the following websites have very beneficial information: (good site for kids)

Dr. Mercola's Sleep Articles

Deep Breathing Techniques

Ways to Manage Your Stress

Healthy Breasts

Organic Soap

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