Where For Art Thou, O Good Night’s Sleep? By Nicole DePalma MS, LMT When is the last time you remember having a good night’s sleep? Some of you may say that most of the time a deep, healthy sleep …
Where For Art Thou, O Good Night’s Sleep?
By Nicole DePalma MS, LMT
When is the last time you remember having a good night’s sleep? Some of you may say that most of the time a deep, healthy sleep is the norm. However, for many of us out there, a good night’s rest is about as rare as winning the lottery.
Why is this? Why is it so hard for us to fall asleep rather quickly after we retire, and then get up in the morning feeling refreshed? There are as many different reasons as each person who is sleep deprived, but there are some commonalities, and we can discuss those here. Hopefully, you’ll find some pointers in this article that may help you “catch some zzz’s”, or steer you in the right direction to research further answers.
Face it. We now live in a “24/7/365” world. We can shop online any time of day. The good old days of T.V. signing off at midnight and not starting up again until 6:00 a.m. the next morning are as gone as gone can be. Electronics have snuck into bedrooms and sleeping areas, and we can be glued to them “binge-watching” until the wee hours. We can order take-out 24/7 as well, or hop in the car and head to a drive-thru at 3 a.m. if we want, or shop for groceries 24 hours a day, too. Nothing is turned off anymore, and that means us, as well. For many, it’s almost going through a sort of withdrawal to “unplug”. Just the thought of a day without electronics can make folks jittery, and wondering what they’ve missed.
Our diets and the times of day that we eat also contribute to poor sleep. A heavy meal right before bed, or eating when it would be preferable to sleep set us up for sleep failure. Top this type of eating off with caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or certain types of medications, and voila!, those eyeballs are wide awake!
Some physical reasons that keep us up at night are sleep apnea, snoring, restless leg syndrome, pregnancy, overweight, and chronic pain. If it’s hard to breathe as in the case of sleep apnea or snoring, then it’s going to be hard to sleep. Pregnancy or overweight issues can put the body in positions that are uncomfortable, or create bladder “alerts” that wake us up, and send us off to the bathroom, wondering if we’ll ever be able to get back to sleep once back in bed!
Mental health issues such as stress, depression, multi-tasking, or problem-solving causes havoc with sleep, and the mind churns out thoughts, or “to do lists”, or images that wake us right up, eventually watching the sun’s first rays coming into view.
Some sleep recommendations that are suggested to help us get a better night’s sleep are:
• Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day to develop a sleeping rhythm.
Avoid taking naps during the daytime
• .Try to include more exercise or activity that asks the body to move, stretch, or better yet if possible, get outdoors into fresh air.
• Avoid large meals, caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol before bedtime.
• Find out if any medications you take disrupt sleep, and how to effectively deal with that side effect safely.
• Keep electronic devices out the the bed room or sleeping space. Try to have this space be exclusively for sleep. Keep this area dark, cool, and as quiet as possible.
• Try to find a relaxing activity before bed, such as gently stretching, reading (no stressful materials, please!), listening to calming music, or a guided meditation, or learning deep and purposeful breathing patterns.
Lack of sleep has consequences to our physical and mental health. Some studies are finding that getting less than five hours of sleep on a regular basis can be an underlying cause of dementia. Lack of sleep affects the heart’s rhythms, digestive issues, blood pressure, cortisol levels in the blood stream, headaches, skin irritations, not to mention irritability and that “off” feeling that comes when we’re over-tired during our day.
We’re fortunate here in the Hastings area as we actually have a Sleep Center run by Regina Hospital. As I looked at the Sleep Center’s website, I saw that Patients may receive a physical evaluation of their health, and an evaluation of lifestyle and other issues that may be causing poor sleep. There is testing that may be done in a Patient’s home or at the Sleep Center, which will help to find a diagnosis of sleeping problems, and from there, come up with treatments to move forward toward better rest.
Good sleep is every bit as important as good nutrition, exercise, and all the other things that we can do to move toward better health and well-being. If a chronic lack of sleep is something you may be dealing with, a visit with your health care provider to find solutions to this issue is important. Let’s all sleep on that! Cheers and sweet dreams.