Tuck into our favourite sleep hygiene tips & tricks
If we had a dime for everytime someone told us that they needed more sleep, we’d have a lot of dimes!
This month we tuck into our favourite sleep hygiene tips, tricks and stories.
I’ve been asked so many times in the past month: Do you set goals, intentions, resolutions, etc? Yes, I do. I review my year and roll out some things to guide me. For 2023, it’s body first, business second. I’m not gonna lie, “body first, business second,” phew, this one is hard for me. I love love love what I do, and I can so easily get lost in it, leaving my health and wellness to suffer. Not this year.
Speaking of love, I LOVE to sleep. If you’re a patient of mine you may have heard that I am in bed by 8, often asleep by 8:30. Sure people make fun of me. I’m often met with slack-jawed disbelief … how do you pull that off?? My girlfriends make fun of me, but I’m sure they wish they were me, sound asleep at 8:30.
When I was pregnant 10 years ago, I swore I’d have a baby who sleeps. Well, guess what I got? A night owl! Yup, you can bet I’ve pulled out all my tools to get my boy to sleep through the night. I’m happy to say he’s almost 10 and finally sleeps through the night, but bedtime is still a struggle for him.
Here are my sleep-hygiene tricks for my night owl:
- Routine: Our night time routine is predictable and repetitive. If you ask my son, he’ll tell you I’m nagging him, and I probably am. I front load about 30 minutes before I need him in bed and the countdown begins. For adults, maybe setting multiple alarms would work to remind you to get off your phone, shut down the electronics, take your magnesium, brush and floss your teeth, grab a book and head to bed.
- Read: We spend a good 30 to 45 minutes reading together, getting in some good cuddles and big endorphins to send us off to bed happy.
- Gentle point massage: Sometimes I’ll rub behind my son’s ears, gently pressing on that bone and surrounding area to help calm him down. If you’re a patient of mine with sleep issues, you know this point well. ( watch our social channels, I got in front of the camera to show you what point to massage)
- Wake up at the same time every day: this one is tricky for us, as the kid has 6 a.m. hockey practice twice or more each week. But in general, we try and wake at the same time every day.
- Take time for yourself: The mornings are my most coveted time. I wake up 1 to 2 hours before I have any responsibilities. I take time for writing, savoring my coffee, exercising, planning the day and catching up with my husband. Carve out a sacred time for yourself. It could be in the mornings or etched into your pre-bedtime routine.
- Acupuncture: Obviously, I have to include this. Many of my patients require trial and error with acupuncture to find what works. Some of my insomniacs find that coming in for those nighttime appointments just before bed is the best. Others need to see me early in the morning to guarantee a good calm day that sets them up for a sound sleep at night.
Whatever kind of sleeper you are, we’ve got you. Tips and tricks abound here at The Village. Sweet dreams, you night owl, you. I’ll see you in the morning!
One of the most common issues I see in clinic is disrupted sleep. Taking hours to fall asleep, busy mind, vivid dreams, waking in the middle of the night then struggling to get back to sleep and not feeling rested in the morning are frequent complaints.
Acupuncture can definitely help but there are also many things we can do to set ourselves up for sleep success! Sleep hygiene or good sleep habits are fundamental to good sleep.
Of course, everyone is different but a few tips apply to most:
- Give yourself a consistent bedtime and evening routine
- Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and calm
- Limit electronics close to bedtime
In addition to good sleep habits and acupuncture, magnesium is often a great supplement to add to your evening routine. Magnesium can act as a muscle relaxant which can help with sleep. I like magnesium glycinate/bisglycinate or magnesium threonate as they tend to be easier on digestion.
I also have a lot of patients who use melatonin to help them sleep. A reminder about use: general guidelines are 1 to 3 mg maximum to be taken at least 1 to 2 hours before you want to sleep. There are a couple of drug interactions to be aware of, so please check in with your primary health care provider before adding it to your bedtime regimen!
Oh Sleep, how I love thee! I can literally fall asleep anywhere … and usually do so at the 30 minute mark of any car ride. Sadly, my kid did not inherit this gift, much to the disappointment of the both of us. Many others, maybe yourself, also struggle to either get to sleep or stay asleep.
Well, thankfully, there are several strategies that help with the wind down, and acupuncture has helped many to have a deeper, more continuous sleep.
I think Sara covered most of the basics but a couple of things I’d recommend working into a good sleep hygiene/routine include some gentle stretching, laying on an acupuncture mat (like this one) and diffusing some calming essential oils (we swear by black spruce + lavender).
If your mind is a hamster wheel situation, try visualizing a problem or thought being put into a box until the morning. Or have fun with it — wrap it up in newspaper, blow it up in a balloon … you get the idea.
For some of you, the single most powerful bedtime thought you can have is simply giving yourself permission to rest. You need and deserve to let your body and mind rejuvenate!
Shanie Rechner (pronounced Shaw-nee)
Sleep, our body’s very own intrinsic healer. That is of course, so long as we’re actually logging those hours versus spending them tossing and turning.
Are you waking up 1 or more times a night? Have you ever noticed if it’s at the same hour every night? Depending on the time of night or early morning, this could be an indicator to us acupuncturists about a bigger-picture-problem arising from an unsuspecting area of your health.
Maybe you’re up some time between 3-5am and coughing, or maybe you suffer from autoimmune issues. Perhaps you’re experiencing grief, sadness or are working through letting go of something. These symptoms can be a reflection of imbalance within the TCM Lung system and lo and behold, 3-5am is the time of day our Lung system is said to be its working hour.
All this to say, if disrupted sleep has you counting sheep to no avail, you might just be a herbal tonic or acupuncture session away from the sandman bringing you a dream.