Did you know that a human can live for more than three weeks without food, however we can only survive about 11 days without sleep? Sleep disorders currently affect more than 70 million Americans. Yes, you read that correctly. There are a whole lot of sleep deprived Americans in the classrooms (maybe those kids don’t need medicated, maybe they need sleep), in the workplace (I vote for napping pods), and on the roads. It’s a scary number for sure!
Even worse, sleeping pill use is associated with 500,000 deaths annually. Did you know that one of the side effects of sleeping pills is (wait for it)……. INSOMNIA! Let’s take a look at some causes of sleep disorders. If you can identify and correct the cause, rather than just masking the symptoms, you will be much better off in the long run!
Common Causes of Sleep Disorders
Stress – if your mind races when you lay down due to a stressful day, try this relaxing breathing technique (exercise 3 is my favorite for sleep).
Diet – sugar and caffeine will both affect your sleep. Try not to consume either after 3 pm, or if you are sensitive like me, stop at noon. Better yet, give them both up for good!
Lack of water – Did you get half your body weight in ounces? Check out my prior post entitled “Why Water?” for more reasons why you may want to get more water.
Lack of essential fatty acids
Pain – If your pain is due to tired, achy muscles, give this a try!
Calcium or Magnesium Deficiencies – Blood tests are not always accurate when testing for nutritional deficiencies. You can order nutritional tests online here or hair analysis is another option. Most doctors will only test your serum magnesium. Unless you are dead, it will be normal. You must know your RBC magnesium (red blood cell) to know if the magnesium is actually getting into your cells. Demand the RBC magnesium test at your next physical and if it’s lower than 6, you are magnesium deficient. Check out Dr. Carolyn Dean. These are my favorite calcium and magnesium supplements.
Room conditions – Is your room the right temperature? I can tell if my kids turn the thermostat to anything other than 67-68 degrees. I need my room cool to sleep! I have blackout curtains on my windows, and I sleep with earplugs in my ears. It is amazing what a difference it makes!
Lack of Exercise – Did you know that restless leg syndrome occurs because your legs want to move more during the day? Try moving more, even if it’s just light stretching or walking in place. Remember, any movement is better than no movement.
Eating too late – Most of our digestive systems stop working after 7 pm (unless you exercise late in the day). Eating after 7 may interfere with your sleep so try to push dinner up if you can.
Side effects of medications – read the labels. Often, your medication may be causing your sleep woes.
Hormone imbalances – If you suspect hormone imbalances, find a great functional doctor or naturopath who can order saliva testing for you. Blood tests will not pick up on cortisol and adrenal levels. It’s well worth the money to know where you stand, especially if you are having trouble sleeping. Often, your cortisol is not following the normal curve and may be too high late in the day. If that is your issue, check this out.
Vitamins and Herbs – always take your vitamins and herbs early enough that they won’t interfere with your sleep. Some vitamins, especially the B vitamins, can give you a little too much energy and keep you up. Remember, when you go to sleep, your body has a lot of work to do repairing, cleaning house, and recharging your immune system. You don’t want to overload your system with a bunch of supplements that the body now has to break down and process as well.
If you address these common sleep disrupters and still find that you aren’t able to get your 8 hours (and yes, you do need 8 hours), I recommend the usual – shut electronics off an hour before bedtime, diffuse some lavender in your room, drink a warm cup of chamomile tea, and when your head hits the pillow, don’t think. Say your prayers or practice gratitude, but do not start building your dream house in your head or mapping out your strategy if you get laid off at work. I am a stress insomniac and I have found that if I don’t let one thought start, I can usually fall asleep. And when all else fails, I use my Tranquil Roll-on and SleepEssence to relax at bedtime. If you are interested in trying any of the Young Living products I have mentioned, click here to order.