- A study from Russia, followed 657 men aged 25-64 and followed them for 14 years. They found that poor sleep is linked to twice the risk of heart attack and up to four times the risk of stroke.
- A study published in the Journal of Arthritis and Rheumatology found that adults over the age of 50 who had non-restorative sleep (sleep where you feel tired when you wake up) is strongly linked with the onset of widespread pain. They suggest this could be linked with fibromyalgia.
- A study published in Neurology, found that people who have lower levels of oxygen in their blood during sleep (often found with sleep apnea) were more likely to have brain tissue lesions called microinfarcts. These lesions are associated with dementia.
- Sleep Apnea has also been linked with depression. A study from Adelaide followed 1,875 male participants for 5 years. They found the excessive daytime sleepiness and bad sleep apnea was associated with the prevalence and onset of depression
The more important question to ask is “what can I do to get a better night’s sleep?” Well, here is my answer to that question.
7 Tips for getting a great nights sleep
Tip 1: Keep a regular sleep schedule
Keeping a regular sleep schedule will allow you to get into sync with your body’s natural circadian rhythm. If you have a regular schedule for going to bed and getting up, you should feel more energized and refreshed. Consistency with this will allow your body to get into a good routine.
Tip 2: Naturally regulate your sleep-wake cycle
This is an interesting one for me. We have a hormone called Melatonin that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. The production of Melatonin is controlled by light exposure. You should have more of this in the evening, when it is dark, to help make you sleepy and less during the day when it is light and you need to stay awake and alert. What happens a lot these days, is that modern life can disrupt this cycle and affect the production of Melatonin and therefore your sleep wake cycle.
With technology these days, we are often looking at bright TV or computer screens at night and using bright fluorescent lights when it should be dark. This can suppress your body’s production of Melatonin and make sleep harder to come by. According to www.helpguide.org, there are some ways you can help naturally regulate Melatonin and therefore your sleep wake cycle:
Firstly, you can increase light exposure during the day by:
- Remove sunglasses in the morning and let sun hit your face.
- Spend more time outside during daylight.
- Let as much light into your room or office during the day.
Secondly, you can boost melatonin production at night by:
- Turn off or reduce the time spent in front of a TV or computer.
- Don’t read from a backlit device at night like an iPad.
- Don’t use bright light bulbs, use low-wattage softer light.
- When it is time to sleep, make sure the room is dark.
- If using the bathroom at night, don’t turn on the light or use a flashlight to light the way. It will make it easier to get back to sleep.
I have also read that it is the blue light waves that wakes you up and reduces Melatonin production. Orange light waves do not do this. So apparently, another option would be to use orange tinted glasses to block to blue wavelength light. I need to look into this more but it would be an interesting experiment to try.
Tip 3: Create a bedtime ritual
Creating a bedtime ritual will help tell your body it is time to wind down. This may be having a shower, reading a book, listening to music etc. If you make a consistent effort to relax and unwind before bed, you should sleep easier. This is also linked with the next tip, manage stress.
Tip 4: Manage stress
Being in a stressed state does not equal good sleep. Think of ways to reduce your stress, whatever that may be for you. I know that when I am particularly stressed about something, I never sleep well. You can try some of the things from tip 3, or other options like meditation etc.
Tip 5: Have a good bed and a good pillow
You need to be comfortable to sleep well. This includes having a good comfortable bed and a proper pillow. From a chiropractors point of view, this is a key point. You will never be able to relax fully if you don’t have a good pillow or bed. (I am going to be writing a post soon on pillows and sleep, so keep an eye out for that). What pillow is best for you will depend on your normal sleeping position. If you don’t want to buy a new bed, sometimes a cheaper option is getting a topper pad for your bed. This may make all the difference.
Tip 6: have a good diet and do regular exercise
I have written about the benefits of regular exercise on many occasions on my blog so it should come as no surprise that regular exercise can help promote better sleep. Sometimes exercising too close to bed can energize you too much, but you can decide on what time of the day would work best for you. In the evenings, gentle stretching or yoga may help relax you and may help ease some of that stress you have built up during the day.
Having a good quality diet will also help with sleep. You need to have all of the proper nutrients in order to have good rest and repair. Also, don’t go to bed on a real full stomach after a big meal or really hungry. Do not drink too much before bed as it may make you get up for those annoying toilet stops.
Tip 7: See a chiropractor
If you are in pain or are uncomfortable, a good sleep is going to be difficult to get. Chiropractic care can help with this. A body and nervous system that is functioning well, should allow for a better night’s sleep. I have heard it time and time again, that people have said they had a great night’s sleep after their chiropractic adjustment. I know I do.
There you have my 7 useful tips for a great nights sleep. If you are struggling to sleep well, try the tips above and see how they help. If you are still having problems, please seek further help. Your body will thank you for it.