A guide to restful nights & refreshed awakenings
I’m sure you’ve all heard about circadian rhythms, and maybe even the role Melatonin and Cortisol have on your sleep and awake cycles. Chinese Medicine uses its own concept to explain this, and encourage best rest habits according to a Traditional Chinese Organ Body clock. The 24-hour cycle of Qi (energy) helps us know when to exercise, eat, rest and sleep, and keep our bodies and mind healthy.
It shows us that come 7pm -9pm, our energy enters into the Pericardium, and nutrients are carried to the capillaries and to each cell. This is the perfect time to read, relax, play quiet games with the family and wind down. From 9pm -11pm we should ideally be in bed, as this is the Triple Burner time, when the endocrine system adjusts the body into homeostasis, and prepares for deep rejuvenation. This is when cortisol naturally begins to diminish.
10 ways to Sleep Better:
1. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
Keeping a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends, helps to develop a sleep-wake rhythm that encourages better sleep.
2. Create a comfortable sleep environment.
You can try to control a number of the elements in your bedroom that will promote a good sleep, such as:
Temperature – For most people, cool is better than hot.
Light – Keep your bedroom as dark as possible. You might even consider wearing an eye mask.
Noise – Less noise means more sleep. You can reduce noise levels with rugs & drapes, earplugs, background “white” noise (eg. fan), or soothing music.
Comfort – A good mattress can improve the quality of sleep.
Function – Try not to use your bedroom for work, study or other such activities. Make your bedroom a stress-free zone.
3. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Alcohol may help you get to sleep, but it will make your sleep restless and uneasy. Caffeine-contained in tea, cola, and chocolate, as well as in coffee-is a stimulant and can cause problems for people trying to fall asleep.
4. Watch your diet.
A heavy meal or spicy foods before bedtime can lead to night-time discomfort, and fluids can require disruptive trips to the bathroom.
5. Get out of bed if you’re not sleeping.
If you dont fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes, get up. Get back into bed only when you feel sleepy.
6. Exercise regularly.
Regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep. Exercising in the morning or afternoon at least 3 hours before bedtime, so you wont be too “revved up” will help you get a deeper, more restful sleep.
7. Cut back on or stop tobacco use.
Nicotine, like caffeine, is a stimulant can cause problems for people trying to fall asleep.
8. Avoid watching the clock.
Set the alarm and place the clock out of sight. Constant checking can even cause insomnia.
9. Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
Read a good book, listen to music, practice relaxation techniques, or take a warm bath.
10. Have a midday rest.
It’s true that a siesta is good for our health and our sleep cycles. If you can’t manage a snooze, even 10 minutes of quiet time will help. Disengage from your phone, errands, conversations.. Take some time to tune in to yourself and be at rest. Anytime between 10.30am – 2pm is best. And will set you up for a better sleep that night. Try it out and see for yourself.
11. Have a foot soak
Soaking your feet in warm water (as warm as you can stand) for 15-20 mins before bed promotes better sleep. And more. Seriously, give it a go. No fancy bucket required. No essentials oils or salts necessary. Just warm water & your feet in a bucket. The heat stimulates blood flow to your feet, stimulates heaps of acu points on the feet and can quiet your mind. Such a simple ritual.
Dr Elaine Hickman
B.H.Sc.TCM (Acupuncture), Cert.Cl.Ac. (Beijing)
Elaine has trained and worked in various settings, both in Australia and China. She has over 20 years experience in treating many health problems. Elaine loves to provide a health care experience for people that is respectful, effective, empowering and enjoyable. Elaine has particular expertise in Women’s Health, Children’s Health, Family Medicine and Wellness promotion. She brings extra understanding and knowledge to the table having been through infertility herself.