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  • Writer's pictureConnie Hurst

Natural Treatment for Insomnia Huntington Beach

Sleep is the best thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day. Research shows that the shorter you sleep the shorter you live. Finding good sleep is possible...


My work with clients often involves focusing on sleep routines. About half of the clients I see struggle with falling asleep, staying asleep or light sleep. I share my own sleep story with clients. In  high school and college I napped for an hour midday, and this was after sleeping 9-10 hours at night! As an intern in graduate school I did neurofeedback training. Within 7 sessions I quit naps and woke up in the mornings feeling refreshed. To this day I am so thankful for how neurofeedback training has improved my quality of sleep! Follow the guidelines at the end of the article for finding good sleep if you are having trouble with sleep or want to feel alert and fresh each day. Consider neurofeedback training if you have tried these tips and still struggle with getting enough good sleep.


KIDS AND TEENS

We are learning more about the role of sleep in children’s development. Deep sleep may be a driving force of brain maturation, not the other way around. Consider protecting teen's sleep rather than labeling too much as a sign of laziness. Current research suggests that it may take months of regular sleep sleep to recover from sleep debt (don't expect teens to recover on the weekend!). Sleep is a memory aid before learning (to prepare your brain for making new memories). Sleep helps to cement those memories and prevent forgetting.


ADULTS

As we enter our 40’s the electrical quantity and quality of deep REM sleep reduces. Even though we wake more often as we get older, it is a myth that we need less sleep. Older adults need the same amount of sleep as they do in midlife, but are less able to get it.


Impact on our Concentration 

Adults need more than 7 hours of sleep each night to maintain cognitive performance. Even a little slept debt reduces our ability to focus. We under-estimate how sleep-deprived we are when sleep-deprived.


Impact on our Emotions and Brain

Many emotional and psychiatric problems occur with sleep debt. Sleep loss causes devastating effects on the brain. Neurological and psychiatric conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s and suicide. Treating some of these issues with sleep is sometimes helpful. 


Impact on our Body

Twenty studies that tracked millions of people over many decades reported the same clear relationship: the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life.  Heart attacks, chronic pain, stroke, obesity, diabetes, immune deficiency, and cancer relate to a chronic lack of sleep. 


Most of us lose an hour of sleep during the daylight saving time switch in March. Hospital records show that this small sleep loss results in a frightening spike in heart attacks the following day. Rates of heart attacks reduced the day after the November switch (most of us sleep an hour more). The brain is as sensitive as the heart to a small amount of sleep loss - there is a similar rise and fall relationship that happens with traffic accidents. 


Do Sleeping Medications help?

No sleep medications on the legal (or illegal) market induce natural sleep. Researchers looked at the use of sleeping pills and mortality over a 2 1/2 year period. They found that heavy users (taking more than 132 sleeping pills per year) were 5.3 times more likely to die.  over the study period than matched control non-users. Occasional users (taking only 18 sleeping pills per year) were 3.6 times more likely to die during the 2 1/2 year study.


Can Naps or Caffeine Help?

Power naps can increase concentration for a little while when you are sleep deprived (as can caffeine, up to a certain dose). Naps and caffeine can't fix more complex brain functions like learning, memory and emotional stabilty. 


Find Good Sleep

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule -establish a regular bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends. If there is only one thing you do off this list this is the most important one. Go to bed and wake up at the same time of day no matter what. It is the single most effective way of helping improve your sleep. 

  2. Avoid caffeine and nicotine.

  3. Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed. Alcohol is one of the most powerful known suppressors of REM sleep. Alcohol-infused sleep is not restorative. Alcohol fragments sleep with brief awakenings that are often not remembered.

  4. Eat a small dinner, otherwise your body has to contend between preparing for sleep and managing the undigested food in your stomach.

  5. If you wake during the night to use the bathroom, try avoiding any liquids after 7 p.m. 

  6. If possible, avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep.

  7. Try to get outside in natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes each day. If possible, wake up with the sun or use very bright lights in the morning. 

  8. Exercise is great, but not too late in the day. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days but not later than 2-3 hours before bedtime. 

  9. Avoid naps during the day until you are able to fall asleep before 10pm.   If you still need a nap during the day then a 20 minute nap before 3pm is okay. 

  10. Leave time in your schedule for unwinding before bed. Add a relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music as part of your bedtime ritual. Yet, avoid reading a book on an iPad or electronic device. Reading on an iPad at night suppresses melatonin release by 50% and delays the rise of melatonin for up to 3 hours compared to reading a printed book.

  11. Taking a hot bath before bed can induce 10%-15% more deep REM sleep in healthy adults.

  12. Avoid electronics after 9pm. (TV, Phone, Computer, any LED lights). Electronics are stimulating and impair the secretion of melatonin (due to the strong light they emit). Although many people watch TV to relax, it has a stimulating effect on your brain’s neurochemicals. Create lowered, dim light in the rooms where you spend your evening hours.

  13. Keep your bedroom dark and cool. A temperature of around 65°F is ideal for most people.  

  14. Remove screens from the bedroom. Electronics are counter productive to bedroom activities like sleep, relaxation and intimacy. Remove clock-faces from view in the bedroom to  prevent clock-watching anxiety at night.

  15. Reduce anxiety-provoking thoughts and worries by learning to mentally decelerate before bed.

  16. Don’t lie in bed awake: get out of bed and do something quiet and relaxing until the urge to sleep returns.

  17. Still having problems sleeping after trying the above? Consider Neurofeedback training!




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