I occasionally suffer from restless leg syndrome, which is extremely annoying when I am trying to sleep! Sleep is so important as it is essential for keeping good mental as well as physical health. If you have trouble getting to sleep, have a look at the following:
The body runs by a clock called the Circadian Rhythm (sleep/wake cycle). This is basically a 24-hour internal clock that cycles between sleep and awakeness at regular intervals. When it gets dark, the body releases the hormone Melatonin which is the hormone that notifies the body to sleep. Light suppresses the release of melatonin, so it is important to sleep when it is dark and get up when it is light. You will then be in tune with your Circadian Rhythm and your body will naturally sleep and wake. On the retreats we offer, we follow the Circadian Rhythm by sleeping when it gets dark and getting up when it gets light, thus experiencing the natural sleep/wake pattern that your body is yearning for!
Temperature and noise levels play a part in determining sleep and how well you sleep. You may not even be aware of these influences on your sleep. Try keeping a sleep diary of the what the conditions were when you went to bed. You may see a pattern which will help you see what works (or doesn’t work) for you in getting to sleep.
Television affects you getting to sleep. It is advisable to not watch the news or scary programs before going to bed as the inflow from these programs remain in your head and can keep you awake. A little comedy may be OK, but the best thing to do is read.
If your mind is racing and your brain won’t stop working, or you have too much energy that your body just won’t relax, this is adrenal stress - the fight or flight syndrome. The body will need a good 40 minutes exercise during the day to release any excess energy,
What you eat and drink can affect your sleep so keep any stimulants like caffeine to earlier in the day. Another thing to avoid is alcohol - it may seem to help you sleep, but it reduces the quality of sleep later. If you feel bloated and your digestion is not working properly, it won’t help you to sleep. It is true that your gut and brain are connected so anything that goes wrong with the stomach will affect the head. It is important to not overeat, especially proteins. Before bed, if you need to eat, eat calcium rich foods such as cheese. Also no junk food as it will bloat you.
Poor health can affect sleep. Mental health problems like depression and anxiety often go hand in hand with sleep problems. It’s important to see the doctor if you have any health concerns that might be keeping you awake.
Sweet dreams to you all!