Do you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night? Well, you’re not alone; In fact, the CDC estimates that 50 – 70 million adults in the US have a sleep or wakefulness disorder.1
“So I lost a few hours of sleep, what’s the problem”? Well, once in a while this can happen, but chronic sleep loss can lead to major health problems. The risk of developing obesity, heart disease and diabetes greatly increase due to a chronic lack of sleep. In addition to these health concerns, lacking sleep is likely to leave you performing poorly at work, unable to focus, irritable and a danger to yourself and others on the road. Your body needs to sleep to heal and recover from your daily activities.
Why can’t I sleep?
Unfortunately, there is no clear and easy answer to this question. It is completely dependent on you, as an individual. Things that commonly affect sleep include: acute and chronic pain caused by injury or poor posture, stress both from home and work, and electronic usage. Of course, chemical changes in your body can also alter your sleep habits.
Stress is a two-fold demon against sleep – anxiety and racing thoughts about your day or anticipation about an upcoming event can leave you tossing and turn, but stress can also cause chemical and hormonal changes in your body that prevent you from sleeping.
What can I do to get more sleep?
Turn off all your electronics an hour before bed – TV, computer, and phone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, these small electronics produce enough light to trick our eyes and brain into staying alert and awake longer; they actually change our circadian rhythms.
Make getting restful sleep a priority. Establish a nightly routine for yourself so that your body knows sleep is coming and that it’s time to wind down for the night. After turning off all the electronics, keep the lights low while you brush your teeth, ready your outfit for the next day and ready the bed for sleeping.
Incorporate 20 minutes of mindfulness or meditation into your nightly routine to clear your mind of stressful thoughts from today or tomorrow. It will not only distress you but calm your mind so you can easily slip into restful sleep.2
Essential Oils to Assist with Improving Sleep
Lavender – Inhalation of lavender essential oil during sleep has been shown to actually change brain waves and promote deeper and calmer sleep.3 Use of a diffuser or even a few drops of oil on your pillow, wrists or neck are a great method of delivery.
Chamomile – Often put in tea before sleep, chamomile is known for its relaxing, soothing and calming properties.
A 2016 study by Dyer et al., showed that bergamot, sandalwood, frankincense, mandarin, and lavender help induce sleep in 94% of study participants through the use of aromatics.4
Herbal Extracts to Assist with Improving Sleep
Valerian root – A herb known for its use and healthfulness in those with insomnia because of its ability to increase drowsiness. This extract is also great for anxiety, stress and pain if they are your cause for not sleeping.
Passion flower – Also often used in those with stress and anxiety related insomnia. Passionflower is gentle on your stomach and often combined with other sedative herbs during use.
- Insufficient sleep is a public health problem. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/. Accessed on 6/14/16.
- Hulsheger UR, et al. A low-dose mindfulness intervention and recovery from work: Effects on psychological detachment, sleep quality and sleep duration. Journal of Occupational ad Organizational Psychology. 2015 Sept: 88(3):464-489.
- Perl O, Arzi A, Sela L. Odors enhance slow-wave activity in non-rapid eye movement sleep. Journal of neurophysiology. 115(5):2294-302. 2016.
- Dyer J, Cleary L, McNeill S, Ragsdale-Lowe M, Osland C. The use of aromatics to help with sleep problems: A patient experience survey. Complementary therapies in clinical practice. 22:51-8. 2016.