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The Importance Of Sleep Hygiene

Numerous studies have revealed that the amount and quality of sleep is imperative to health, so prioritising it daily is important. However, almost one third of Australians will experience insomnia and sleeplessness during their life, most commonly seen amongst women and people of an elderly age. In Chinese Medicine sleep disorders are usually attributed to imbalances of yin and yang within the body. A lack of sleep is related to yin deficiency and excessive sleep is attributed to yang deficiency.

Quality sleep has been linked to heart, brain, mental and immune health. It is essential for growth, repair as well as hormonal balance and overall quality of life.

Some symptoms of insomnia include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep

  • Frequently waking throughout the night

  • Drowsiness during the day

  • Lack of sleep consistency and quality

  • Poor memory and concentration due to sleep deprivation

  • Depression and irritability

  • Headaches

External stress such as work, relationships, grief or finances and shift work; mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety; sleep apnoea and medical conditions such as hormonal, digestive or urinary disorders and menopause are all common causes of insomnia. Among these, sleep hygiene is considered one of the main issues.

In order to improve our sleep quality, a number of techniques can be applied:

  • Stick to a nightly sleep schedule. This means setting a fixed time to wake up and nod off every night (even on your days off). Unfortunately this also means no naps throughout the day

  • Reduce hard exercise, in particularly cardio in the evening

  • Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee up to 8 hours prior to sleep as these act as a stimulant

  • Avoid alcohol prior to bed. Whilst alcohol can help you fall asleep it tends to affect your REM sleep cycle

  • Avoid larges meals and drinks prior to bed

  • Reduce your screen time, including gaming and phone usage before bed

  • Wind down by taking a warm bath or shower with Epsom salts, as magnesium helps the body to relax

  • Keep hydrated

  • Limit in bed activities, so a link between sleep and your environment can be established

  • Keep the temperature of your bedroom slightly cool but comfortable

  • Reduce ambient lights (including clock radios and other lights)

  • Include adequate daylight exposure through the day to balance of Yin/Yang as well as increase Vitamin D levels

  • Integrate acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Meditation, Mindfulness and other stress reducing practices into your daily routine.

Scientific studies relating to acupuncture have found a positive relationship between the therapy and increased endogenous melatonin which is necessary to maintain a healthy sleep cycle. Others have demonstrated the potential for lowering the sympathetic system response, inducing relaxation, neurotransmitter regulation such as serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, GABA and finally an increase in nitric oxide levels in the brain to promote sleep.

When struggling with a good night sleep there are numerous potential aetiologies that we may be able to assist you with. Contact the clinic and we can discuss ways in which we may be able to help.

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