Sleep - A Key Component of Mental Health and Overall Wellbeing

Sleep is one of the most important things we do when considering the overall health of our mind and body. Though we all know that good sleep recharges our "batteries", keeps are immune system strong, and helps us to feel our best each and every day, rarely do we talk about how to sleep. My experience as a practitioner has shown that each of us needs a particular amount and type of sleep, and when we adhere to this sleep pattern we function much more efficiently and happily each day.

Sleep - A Key Component of Mental Health and Overall Wellbeing, Wildwood Acupuncture in Portland, OR

Here we are in late spring with the days getting longer, and the glorious sunshine keeping us active more and more each day. I have some insights share with you that may help you continue to get the sleep you need, or perhaps make good solid sleep a more attainable practice.

(Please remember this may take patience, time and support from those around you!)

  • Timing:

Establish a regular sleep schedule that involves sleeping and waking at the most consistent times possible. This is especially hard for the "weekend warrior" but your health is worth it!

  • Environment:

Modify your sleeping space to be as conducive to sleep as possible. This may mean darkening curtains, earplugs, white noise, comfortable temperature/humidity, and fancy pajamas (or not!). And in the morning, make waking as natural as possible: natural light, gentle movement and stretching, and anything else that helps you get out of bed in a peaceful manner. Also, consider a HEPA air filter, and investing in some quality bedding (and bed!) to catalyze the whole process

  • Bedtime Ritual

For most of us, falling asleep is the hardest part. Though Oriental medicine does address several different pathologies that may deprive us of sound sleep (whether falling, staying or waking), there are some easy things you can do to help set your mind and body in the right place. 

  A: Make your bed a place primarily about sleeping; avoid doing work, reading, watching tv and especially smart phone screens. 

  B: Clear your mind before bedtime: this means winding down before you get in the sheets, and making whatever kind of plan (or no plan!) for the next day that helps your mind be at ease. Music, candles, bathing....discover what helps you relax.

  C: Engage in gentle movement to help the body wind down. Yin-style yoga, gentle stretching, or breathing exercises like Qigong.

  • Diet:

Do not eat less that 2 hours before bed! This causes the body to keep processing and "working" when it naturally wants to wind down...it can also lead to disturbed sleep and dreams.

Caffeine is generally something to be avoided of course. If you do imbibe, consider only the morning time as coffee-time. If you're a tea-drinker, white and herbal teas are a great alternative.

Alcohol before bed may seem to calm the mind, but it only adds difficulty to the body's detoxification processes, which happen largely at night!

 

I hope these guidelines help bring you peace and rest during the yin (night) time hours. Consider also that sleep issues affect more than 1/3 of Americans. If you would like help with any part of this process I am happy to discuss with you how Oriental medicine can assist your sleep quality to make it as restful, peaceful, and enjoyable as possible.