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January Wellness Tip

Wellness Tip: How to Sleep Better

Evelyne Mitskopoulos CNP is our staff nutritionist and Director of Wellness at Beneplan.

Affects every aspect of your life and is so vital to good health.

There are 75 sleep disorders affecting mankind and a 30-billion sleep medication market which studies show only gets you about 11 minutes more sleep a night.

What does science really know about sleep – not that much.

Biologist say “either there is something really important here, or sleep is evolution’s biggest mistake” – shutting down completely while there are predators prowling around.

For your health, studies show that sleep is even more important that what you eat or your income.

Sleep is now thought of as one of the best forms of preventative medicine and it impacts everything you do during the day.  It helps you make better decisions, retain information, balance your emotions and perform at your highest level.

One study showed a spike in breast cancer rates by 74% among night-shift nurses.

One of the most important factors to sleep is consistency.  Your sleep hygiene routine should include going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time every morning.  No sleeping in on the weekends.

Men and women experience sleep differently.  Women may suffer from a sleep disorder without even having it because their partner snores and they tend to sleep lighter.  Especially when she becomes a parent, most women are responsible for the caring of the baby during the night so their sleep gets disturbed over and over again and it tends to be harder for them to get back to sleep than for men.  IF men wake up they’re usually back to sleep in 20 minutes or so, but it takes 45 minutes to an hour for women who wake up in the middle of the night.

Help for sleep problems can be found in watching your diet  such as no caffeine, no late night heavy meals, exercise no later than 2 hours before bedtime, keeping a regular sleep pattern to keep the natural rhythms of your body and to produce sufficient melatonin to induce sleep, dark room, quiet….

People believe that they need the television to fall asleep but actually the TV and computer screens bright lights make the pituitary think its high noon and it won’t send sleep signals, so avoid both for a half hour to an hour before bedtime.  Turn the lights down in your house about an hour before bedtime as well to ease your brain and body into thinking it’s time for sleep.  Keep the temperature in your bedroom low and on your body.  Cool your body down beforehand with a shower if your home is too humid or you were exercising too close to bedtime OR you can take a hot shower and wait till your body temperature goes down and then get into bed as this will make you feel sleepy.

Try supplementing with melatonin that is naturally secreted cyclically( but decreases with age), in response to the fall of darkness at the end of each day, helping our bodies keep in sync with the rhythms of day and night and may help regulate sleep.  Take 2 hours before bedtime.

Valerian is an herb that improves circulation and acts as a sedative.  Great for anxiety, nervousness and insomnia.  A water-soluble extract form is best and can purchase it in supplement form or have it as a tea.