Sleep is essential to both the health of the body and mind. The amount of sleep required varies from one person to the next, but most adults need a minimum of seven to nine hours a night. The benefits of sleep are multi-factorial: the immune system is stimulated, the nervous system is regenerated, and growth hormone (an anti-aging hormone) is secreted causing liver regeneration, muscle building, and breakdown of fat stores. In addition to increasing daytime energy levels, improving sleep is effective to enhance memory, assist in weight loss, and reduce the risk of depression and cardiovascular disease.
Insomnia is a very common health concern in North America. 30% of North Americans suffer from it, and roughly 10% of the adult population has chronic insomnia. There are two types of insomnia: sleep-onset insomnia (difficulty falling asleep) and sleep-maintenance insomnia (difficulty staying asleep). Both conditions are caused by a variety of factors ranging from the psychological to the physiological.
Diet is the first thing to be considered.
- Avoid foods that you may be sensitive to. Food intolerance may affect sleep by causing excess congestion, gastrointestinal upset, and gas.
- If you are prone to indigestion at night, avoid eating before bed. Sugars and grains are especially important to avoid before bed as they can raise blood sugar and inhibit falling sleep.
- A common cause of insomnia is low nocturnal sugar levels (hypoglycemia) which leads to the release of cortisol and epinephrine at night, leading to excitement of the nervous system and frequent night-time waking.
- Avoid stimulants throughout the day such as coffee, black tea, and chocolate.
- Certain drugs can interfere with sleep and although they may help you initially fall asleep, they often prevent the deeper REM dream state of sleep.
- It is also important to avoid drinking water or other fluids after 8 p.m. to avoid nocturnal urination.
Naturopathic medicine has effective tools to address the root of the problem and treat insomnia, without having to take addictive sleep medications.
A naturopathic physician can discuss natural remedies and dietary changes that are necessary to alleviate your insomnia. Contact Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic today to book an appointment and begin your healing journey 604-235-8068 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pizzorno, J. E., & Murray, M. T. (2013). Textbook of natural medicine.