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Tips for better sleep

As well as receiving acupuncture for sleep quality, 'sleep hygiene' can be improved in a number of ways.

  • Limit caffeine consumption and ideally consume none within 8 hours of bedtime. Research shows caffeine reduces sleep quality even when it does not cause insomnia.

  • Reduce activity in the evening. Exercise in the daytime, preferably morning. Studies show morning exercisers have better sleep than evening exercisers. 

  • Most beneficial hormone release for body repair is between 10pm and 2am so an earlier bed-time routine can help. The old folk saying ‘every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after’ is backed by modern circadian rhythm research.

  • Eating late or heavily in the evening also interrupts the body’s path into down regulation. Digestion is a daytime function to generate energy for activity. It disrupts  ‘autophagy’, the cellular repair and maintenance cycle initiated by rest.

  • Reduce screen use and blue light before bed. They stimulate the nervous system and often create a stress response – even when you are having fun. Our bodies evolved to settle down with nature in the evening. Stimulation interrupts our night release of the hormone melatonin.

  • Reduce temperature. The body needs to cool down a little to undertake rest and repair. Ventilation and air quality can also help.   

  • Destress before bed. Long-term stress can cause chronically elevated cortisol levels that disturb sleep.  At night-time we want cortisol to go down so we can settle into good rest. We want cortisol to rise up in the morning so we can wake energised and ready for the day. Try a bath with Epsom salt and drops of Lavender. My treatment will also target stress if it is a factor in your sleep issues.

  • Reduce tension and breathing.  Try breathing meditation for 10 to 20 minutes. When lying in bed imagine every part of your body relaxing. Allow the tension to melt away. Breathe gently into your tummy rather than your chest.  Diaphragmatic breathing engages your parasymparthetic nervous system. Breath can lengthen, become gentle and calm, staying relaxed without forceful deep breathing.

NM Acupuncture

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