When I moved to Boulder without knowing a single person, sleep was the last thing in my mind. How can you sleep when you have so much to do and so little time? Then the time came when I wanted to sleep but I set up myself for unhealthy sleep patterns. I got to experience what I hear every day from my patients.
I realized again, that great sleep promotes steadfast energy and high concentration which leads to brilliant ideas and powerful steps towards fulfilling my dreams. Not staying up late at night trying to get more done. Work less but do it well – that is my mantra. ~click to tweet this
Nevertheless, many people fall into the vicious cycle of poor sleep and fatigue. Stress, of course, is the most common cause.
I am too stressed to catch quality sleep, but too tired to do my best work
The time before going to sleep is prime time for people to worry about what didn’t get done and what lays ahead on tomorrow’s to-do list.
Set aside each evening a “Worry Hour”. Grab a piece of paper or your journal and write down what you “should” have done, what needs to be done “now,” and everything that is driving your mind crazy. If inclined, brainstorm ideas and make specific plans to carry out when you wake up.
When your mind is completely emptied, take the list in your hands and say out loud the following: “I will get all of this done soon, but now I am peacefully going to sleep.” Let go of all your thoughts.
If you wake up at night and tend to overthink, say this: “I have decided to take care of things tomorrow morning, so I am now relaxing and sleeping”.
I stay up late at night and wake up in the morning exhausted
Working harder and longer seems necessary for getting things done. For some people who have families or busy daytime lives, productivity often increases late at night. Research has shown that we get the highest quality sleep between 10pm and 2am, which is oftentimes skipped altogether. After forming this habit, it takes more than just saying “I will just go to sleep at 10pm from now on” to switch back to a healthier sleeping habit. The internal clock is out of alignment at this point.
Our sleep cycles are regulated by light and food.
Make sure you have roughly three meals a day, one by 9am and the latest by 7pm. That will be a major step in telling your body what is normal, when is day, and when is time to sleep.
Light is also crucial. Avoid over stimulating light in the evening such as bright computer screens or bright fluorescent light. Choose a lamp that has a warm spectrum or a candle and work on your worry list. When you wake up in the morning, open all the curtains to get plenty of natural light. This will stimulate your body to wake up, feel more refreshed and reset your internal clock.
Need more help to sleep?
These steps alone can radically change your life. Some people need additional help to overcome stress and the delayed sleep cycle. Also, some people have regular sleep times but still have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up early, or feel tired in the morning after a full night’s rest.
Acupuncture is shown to increase the slow wave sleep (SWS) commonly referred as deep sleep. Acupuncture points also work by calming the Shen, which in Chinese medicine simply means treating stress.
Herbal care is a powerful tool that can also be used for insomnia. Sleep problems are usually caused by “Yin-Yang” imbalance resulting from a weak liver, spleen, heart or kidneys. A customized herbal formula will be designed for you to support your healing process.