The minimum effective dose is about finding what works and using the littlest and best amount. More is not necessarily better and can even be toxic.
This can be applied to medication dosage, acupuncture points prescription, daily life habits, and even sleep hygiene.
How does the minimum effective dose apply to sleep?
For acupuncturists, it’s about finding the least amount of acupuncture points to trigger the most effective response in the body so it can relax into deep, restful sleep. It is also about the finesse of finding what is worth pursuing when it comes to sleep hygiene habits.
Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Exercise – Moderate exercise is better than strenuous exercise when we are already sleep deprived. The brain needs more energy to fall asleep and stay asleep than when awake. If the nervous system is too tired, you will end up like a cranky baby who you can clearly see needs to sleep, but they just won’t go to sleep, until they finally collapse. The minimum effective dose is what gets you going and makes you feel good, but doesn’t push your limits. That may be as little as a walk a day, or gentle yoga a couple of times a week, or hiking a couple of days a week.
- Hours of sleep – It is not about the hours we get but about how we feel the next day. In the same way, sleeping too long is not healthy and can be as detrimental to health as sleep deprivation.
- Going to sleep – It is not about pushing ourselves to go to sleep at a certain time each night, but more waiting for the sweet spot when we actually feel sleepy. Paying attention to that window is crucial so we don’t lie in bed unable to fall asleep and feel our anxiety rise or worse, miss that sweet spot and go into the second wind when the energy picks up.
- Waking up in the morning – We have an internal clock and our bodies tend to want to wake up at the same time. Honor that and let the time when you go to sleep fluctuate by a little. Always slow down in the evenings about an hour before you plan to go to sleep, but be flexible when you actually turn off the light, depending on your level of sleepiness. If you stick with your waking-up time consistently, your body will learn to use the night in the most effective way.
- Routine at night – You don’t need a perfect routine, but a minimum of little habits can make all the difference. I personally love preparing my bed, brushing my teeth, and reading for a while. That is my way of telling my body it is time to go to sleep.
Take a moment to ponder your habits and notice how you may be pushing yourself too much or perhaps have gotten out of the habit of doing things that enrich your life.