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How important is sleep?

Sleep is one of life’s great pleasures. It’s when the body restores and resets. We all know how amazing we feel after a good night sleep. Unfortunately, most of us also know how terrible we feel after a poor night sleep. Problems with sleep are relatively common. Sleep onset insomnia (trouble falling asleep) and sleep maintenance insomnia (trouble staying asleep) are commonly seen in naturopathic practise. The causes of sleep issues can be many. Pain, stress, and hormonal issues can all contribute to disordered sleep. It’s important to consider any causative factors when treating insomnia, and the best way to do that is to see a qualified health care practitioner. So what can we do to help encourage a better night sleep?

1. Waking up at the same time every morning and going to bed at the same time every night helps establish a healthy circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is a cycle the body produces that helps control when we are awake and when we want to sleep. Melatonin is the main hormone that controls this. Regular sleeping times helps regulate melatonin production and thus circadian rhythm. 2. Avoid screens for an hour before bed. The blue light emitted from screens suppresses melatonin production. Checking your phone before bed also engages the mind and can stimulate you so that winding down and relaxing is harder. 3. Avoid afternoon caffeine-containing drinks. While the metabolism of caffeine varies largely in people, the average, healthy human takes 5-6 hours to metabolise half the caffeine they have in their system. This means, if you have a coffee at 5pm, you’re most likely to have half the caffeine from that coffee still in your system at 10-11pm. Caffeine is stimulating and not conducive to sound sleep. 4. Ensure you’re getting enough magnesium. Magnesium is required for the production of melatonin. It’s also relaxes muscles, making us feel more physically relaxed and comfortable. Magnesium is also the key that switches our brains from the sympathetic (awake and alert) nervous system response to the parasympathetic (rest and reset) nervous system response. You can find magnesium in leafy greens, whole grains, and nuts and seeds. Some people need to take magnesium supplements in order to get enough magnesium. Remember to always talk to a health care practitioner before starting any supplements to make sure you get the best one for your needs. 5. The use of essential oils is growing these days. They are a lovely, gentle way to help create a relaxed and calm atmosphere. There are many sleep blends on the market. Defusing a relaxing oil blend in your bedroom can help create an environment of calm, and help encourage a good night sleep. 6. Nature has gifted us with many different nutrients and herbs that can help support people who have issues with sleep. Herbs like chamomile, valerian, and lavender are well known sleep enhances.

Remember to always seek advice from a qualified health care practitioner before choosing any natural remedies. In doing this you’ll not only ensure the supplements you choose are therapeutic and safe for your circumstances, but you’ll also ensure your individual circumstances and requirements are taken into account, and you purchase the best supplements for your needs.

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