For me, insomnia isn't often a problem, so when I do have the odd night of trouble sleeping I feel so deeply for those who suffer from sleep issues night and long tossing and turning night.
The good news is there is a drug-free approach that is effective and it begins with aerobic exercise—which has also been shown to improve mood and focus too!
Many may be ready to exclaim they’ve tried exercise with little to no result. Sadly the paradox to this situation is that to sleep you need to feel motivated and alert enough to exercise, and to do that you need sleep. This means most haven’t given exercise a chance to work its magic. For those with chronic insomnia you will not sleep better one night simply because you left a few miles of pavement behind you that day. The exercise approach does require commitment: 8-16 weeks. I realize it sounds like a lot, and there are many helpful sleep habits to acquire in the meantime.
Committing to regular exercise is a potentially daunting idea, yet sleep isn’t the only way in which you’ll benefit. Aerobic exercise benefits include:
- Healthy heart and lungs
- Improved mood
- Improved focus
- Increased energy
Healthy sleep habits benefits include:
- Healthy body weight
- Reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer
- Hormone balance
- Live Longer
- Improve memory
- All of the direct benefits of sleep you already know and feel when you don’t get enough!
In the meantime, while you develop this aerobic exercise habit you can incorporate these healthy sleep habits, into your routine. And in case you’ve missed it, the importance of this is so great that if you haven’t heard the term sleep hygiene routine, this is what you’ll be developing by:
- Shutting off screens (computer, televisions, and of course your phone) an hour before bed.
- Not consuming alcohol after dinner.
- Not consuming caffeine after lunchtime.
- Going to bed the same time every night, preferably no later than 11:00pm and ensuring you leave yourself enough time for at least 7 hours of sleep (less than that is associated with increased risk of heart attack and metabolic diseases).
- Try a soothing routine before bed, like a bath, shower, or drinking an herbal tea.
- Don’t nap. Yup I know some people are really into their napping or their split cycle living, but it messes with a lot of people’s ability to then fall asleep at night. Try resting and reading instead.
- Mind just won’t shut off? Try meditation: focus on your breath in the present moment, check out some guided meditations, or my favourite taught to me by a friend’s mom when I was just wee, most basic sleep meditation ever. Close your eyes and try to stay awake, when your mind wanders to anything else, just focus on staying awake. Ha! It's so childish in its simplicity, and yet it has worked many times over when I was a much more sleepless young ‘un.
If you’re still having a tough time sleeping or feeling rested, particularly if you live a high stress lifestyle you may need to learn to relax, something many of us really don't do well. Some options that CREATE offers include with proven relaxation benefits include:
Chillax our Restorative Yoga & Reiki
Thai Massage a unique and deeply relaxing massage experience
Aromatic Touch wash away stress in a gentle fragrant essential oil massage
Now, give each one a click, what sounds most relaxing to you?
What one thing will you commit to beginning tonight to improve your sleep?
Please share below, and also let us know what wellness approaches you've found effective to relax and sleep.