Ask A Naturopath:
Why is sleep important to your health and mental wellbeing?
Sleep is arguably one of the most essential elements in any healthy lifestyle. In order for our mental and physical health to function optimally, the body requires both adequate quality and quantity of sleep. A lack of sleep can seep into all aspects of our life, making it difficult to manage the daily stressors and tasks we face on the daily. A lack of sleep can also exacerbate existing injuries and pain.
What are the types of sleep insomnia that impact your health and mental wellbeing?
Insomnia is a disorder characterised by difficulty with sleep. There are two main types: sleep onset insomnia and sleep maintenance insomnia. The first refers to difficulty falling asleep, whereas the latter refers to difficulty staying asleep. Both types can leave you feeling exhausted and like you can’t make it through the day without a nap or some extra coffee.
While a proper history, assessment and diagnosis are crucial to finding the cause of your fatigue, see below…
5 easy steps you can take to improve the quality of your sleep:
- Keep a cool room. Studies have shown that the body must drop its core temperature by 1 degree Celsius to fall asleep. Aim to keep your bedroom between 18-19 degrees.
- Keep it dim. This means covering lights on electronic appliances that may be in your bedroom. This also means turning off bright overhead lights when it gets later in the evening and opting for lamps/softer lights. This mimics the natural rhythm of the sun and helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm, which is your body’s own internal 24-hour cycle.
- Keep the bedroom for bedroom activities only. This means sleep and sex. Do not do work on your computer in your bed, do not check emails or scroll social media pages in your bed. Try to wait until you are tired enough to go to sleep before moving into your bedroom and laying down. This strengthens the association in your mind of your bedroom being a place for sleep. The more you strengthen this association, the easier it will be to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Exercise regularly. Studies have shown that regular exercise can have a positive effect on sleep. Find exercise that you enjoy, that way you are more likely to do it regularly. Do not exercise too late at night as this can have the opposite effect and make it more difficult to fall asleep.
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Establishing a regular sleep-wake routine is another way to reinforce your body’s circadian rhythm, therefore making it easier to fall asleep.
If fatigue and poor sleep are affecting your quality of life, come in and see one of our naturopathic interns for an Integrated Health Assessment, book online today!. There are various ways we can help restore your sleep and manage your fatigue to get you back to optimal functioning and enjoying your life.
Scott, A. J., Webb, T. L., Martyn-St James, M., Rowse, G., & Weich, S. (2021). Improving sleep quality leads to better mental health: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Sleep medicine reviews, 60, 101556. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2021.101556
Walker, M. (2018). Why we sleep. Penguin Books.
Yang, P. Y., Ho, K. H., Chen, H. C., & Chien, M. Y. (2012). Exercise training improves sleep quality in middle-aged and older adults with sleep problems: a systematic review. Journal of physiotherapy, 58(3), 157–163. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1836-9553(12)70106-6