Sleep - The most common complaint heard in office AND on social media AND group chats over the last few months. It’s not just plain old garden variety Insomnia - it’s next level Covid Insomnia. Often as a result of ubiquitous Covid Anxiety. It may be lying in bed for hours unable to fall asleep or waking up in the wee hours, unable to get back to sleep. Is it compounded by Perimenopause? Is it exacerbated by Pregnancy? Is it a parenting teenagers thing? Either way there is a Global Pandemic Sleep Disturbance going on and I am here to help you through it. Millions of people suffered with insomnia pre-pandemic. Now? Sleep issues have reached an all time high. Sleep medication has long been one of the most commonly prescribed medications. Generally they work well, accompanied by side effects and dependency. The more sleep deprived, the less well equipped you are to cope with day to day life, and right now day to day life requires serious coping. So many different factors contribute to sub-optimal sleep - stress, hormones, unhealthy habits, food related, screen related. Then you add in lockdown related changes such as lack of routine, reduced outdoor time, excessive screen time, increased stress - health, financial, work, not to mention feeling everyone else’s stress - it's no wonder people are struggling! Top 10 Sleep Hygiene Tips:
Light - especially blue light - messes with our sleep. You know it, now put it into practice. Black out curtains, no electronics in the bedroom, use the night mode on your phone, blue blocking glasses if you're hardcore.
Temperature - Keep your bedroom cool at night to support the body's naturally lowering temp. Crack a window, turn the heat down, use a fan, light cotton sheets.
Timing - work with your natural rhythm - go to bed and wake up at the same time every day - it resets your internal clock, supporting a naturally healthy circadian rhythm
Exercise - ideally earlier in the day. It can be challenging when working from home to burn enough energy throughout the day to properly exhaust you, especially if you are feeling like a locked down caged beast. Be mindful of this and dance, jog, jump, burpee - whatever it takes, you don't need special equipment or space.
Food - I’m not endorsing eating a heavy meal too late, but don't wait too long after eating to sleep - ideally you want something with protein + fat, not sugar or carbs as the last thing you eat. A handful of pumpkin seeds can be a perfect bedtime snack - all the right nutrients with bonus magnesium and zinc for even more sleep support
Caffeine - not after 12pm. Seriously. It's not helping.
Wind down ritual aka choose your own solid bedtime routine:
Sleepy Tea - passiflora, chamomile, valerian
Meditate - it can be just 5 mins a day - if you tend to remember everything you need to do the second your head hits the pillow - this is key for you.
Read - a book, not on a screen
Journal - get your thoughts out of your head and on paper so you can stop ruminating
Essential oils - lavender, frankincense, vetiver are all sleep promoters
Supplements - this is not one size fits all - please consult with a professional who has studied these nutrients to determine which supplement or combination of supplements and at what dosage would be the most beneficial for you.
10. Sleep promoting environment - a relaxing, calming, intimate, cozy bedroom - no clutter, no screens, the bedroom is not where you work or zoom or watch or eat. It should ideally only be used for sleep & sex, possibly light reading or listening to calm music or meditations. Weighted blankets and white noise can also support a truly sleep inducing state.
Please reach out if you need additional support, there's always something to be done to achieve optimal sleep.
Dr. Dori Skye Engel ND, Birth Doula has a special interest in the Perinatal period of a family’s life; Fertility support, Preconception Care, Pregnancy, Labour & Birth, Postpartum support as well as Babies & Children. Treating the whole person, as well as the whole family, she is honoured to support men & women through further life changes such as menopause, thyroid dysfunction, diabetes, heart disease, skin conditions & all the curveballs life throws.