Sleep is one of those bodily functions like digestion, elimination or healing that is often taken for granted ... until there is a disturbance in the process. The importance of sleep becomes very clear, very quickly when it stops working..
Whilst modern science doesn't fully understand the role of sleep; more and more studies are showing the links between healthy sleep and general health.
Health sleep has been associated with factors such as:
- Maintaining recommended weight
- Wound healing
- Immune system health
- Effective cognitive function
Chinese medicine has always valued sleep. Disturbances in sleep in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) were viewed in romantic terms such as being caused by Shen (Heart/Mind) Disturbance and Liver Fire Disturbing the Mind. All these concepts are very helpful in clinic and acupuncture certainly has a place in helping with sleep disturbance.
7 Tips for better sleep..
- Be aware that sleepiness is like a wave. Everyone has a different sleep cycle - mostly around 90 minutes. Every 90 minutes (or whatever your sleep cycle is) your sleepiness will raise and you will find it easier to fall asleep. Make sure you catch a "sleepy wave".
- Avoid the stimulants - Coffee, tea, sugary foods and other stimulants can keep you aroused well after you take them. if you consume stimulants keep them to the first half of the day.
- Keep thinking for thinking time - Keep a task list of tasks to complete and mentally commit not to work the task list during sleep time.
- Temperature - Ideally your room should remain slightly cool for optimum sleep.
- Pillows and necks - Sorry no magic here - Pillows made from and stuffed with natural materials will allow for better air flow. Try as many as it takes to find one that suits your neck and know that most pillows will only last for 6-12 months (Kapok is an exception). If you have neck discomfort seek treatment - acupuncture/massage so you can lie comfortably.
- Eating - Try to avoid eating just prior to going to bed. As above for stimulants some foods will interfere with sleep - chillis, sugary foods.
- Exercise - Getting enough physical exercise daily is important to maintaining sleep patterns. Avoid exercising immediately before bed as this can create its own challenges..