We experience all kinds of health troubles and challenges during our lives, from seasonal viral infections, to some of the more chronic conditions, including insomnia. It’s one of those “invisible” enemies for our wellbeing, one that tends to leave us feeling exhausted during the day, lacking in concentration and the ability to be as productive as you normally would.
Unlike your typical spring fatigue that tends to go away or diminish in a matter of weeks or months, long-term sleeping issues can lead to a lasting lack of energy and zeal, not to mention the increased risk of certain chronic illnesses. Restorative sleep is paramount for your health and wellbeing, so let’s see what you can do to beat insomnia!
Defining insomnia – why does it occur?
Like with so many other sleep-related problems, there are many types of insomnia, as well as various culprits. Insomnia can cover everything from being unable to fall asleep despite being tired, waking up frequently during the night, and having a hard time falling back to sleep afterward.
From a holistic perspective, insomnia occurs as a result of “hyperarousal”, but its causes vary – it can be stress-induced (both acute and chronic such as PTSD or depression), hormone-related, but also linked to your lifestyle and dietary choices. Then again, if you’ve suffered an injury or you have chronic pain, that, too, can lead to insomnia.
Revisit your lifestyle habits
The first thing any functional medicine professional would ask you is to review your sleep management routine. More often than not, people unwittingly do things that can be detrimental for their sleep quality, which can in turn lead to insomnia.
- It’s best to avoid heavy meals within 2-3 hours before bedtime. But it’s also not advisable to go to bed hungry, so you can choose a light snack if you missed a major meal.
- Do you habitually use your phone or other digital tools before bed? Your TV, laptop, and your smartphone can disrupt your melatonin production and your ability to sleep, so it’s best to avoid screens for several hours before bedtime.
- Room temperature matters: if your bedroom is too hot or too cold, it makes it more difficult for you to sleep. The optimal temperature is between 60 and 67°F.
Introduce calming bedtime rituals
If you’ve been under a lot of stress lately, maybe your stress levels call for a little extra self-care so that you can sleep better. When we neglect our emotional and mental wellbeing, our sleep patterns tend to suffer. Now that you’ve committed to skipping endless phone scrolling before bed, here are a few replacement, healthy habits you can embrace:
- Try mindful breathing and meditation to soothe your mind before you go to bed.
- Start writing a journal to flush out your thoughts before sleep, and to give your mind the rest it needs.
- Avoid exercise before bed. Try working out earlier in the day if possible. Gentle stretching, on the other hand, and sleep-inducing yoga poses might help you relax.
- Take a calming bath infused with lavender so that you can leverage the soothing scent before it’s time to sleep.
- Scented candles in the bedroom can also help you use aromatherapy to calm yourself before bed.
Rely on healthy, natural supplementation
For people who have been dealing with insomnia for a while, a few calming actions before bed might not be enough, due to the chronic nature of their problem. Thankfully, we can rely on natural remedies such as the Best Rest Formula based on valerian root, balanced to help enhance your sleep quality without leading to any form of addiction.
Ideally, you should get a consultation with your doctor first so that you know that you’re the right candidate for such a remedy. For even more severe cases, many people get prescription medication at first to go back to a healthy sleeping routine, but it is certainly not a long-term solution until you deal with the underlying cause.
Say no to unhealthy stimulants
Sometimes we succumb to our cravings and unhealthy habits, and after years of repeating the same vicious cycle, insomnia sets in. For starters, it’s necessary to avoid smoking and drinking alcohol when you’re working on eliminating insomnia. Stimulants such as nicotine and alcohol are extremely disruptive in many ways, so removing them from your lifestyle is the only way to move forward.
Take a holistic approach with functional medicine
Healthy sleep is one of the pillars of healthy, vibrant living, and you need to take a structured approach to treating insomnia properly. Since insomnia can be a very complex problem with different underlying issues to deal with, it’s best to work with a functional medicine expert to discover the root problem and define your lifestyle habits to contribute to your wellbeing. Get in touch to make an appointment and we’ll get started on treating your insomnia right away!