I can’t sleep. Tossing and turning, waking throughout the night, and even talking in my sleep has become the norm these days. I am certain that I am not alone. Insomnia is a common health concern that I treat often at my acupuncture practice. However, experiencing insomnia these days, just doesn’t seem the same. Our minds are racing, our bodies are filled with fear, and our hearts are broken. Why would we be able to peacefully sleep while the country is experiencing nationwide unrest.
Sleeping typically isn’t an issue for me. However, since March my sleep has been disturbed and restless. I hear it often from friends, family, and patients. The nation is not sleeping and it’s not like the “standard insomnia.” Therefore, I won’t spout my normal sleeping tips. We all know what is going on and why we can’t sleep, so I won’t patronize anyone. Instead, below are some tips to try to ease your sleeping woes during this trying time.
Structured Unwind Time
I think it’s safe to say that many of our “clocks” are off these days. I personally have difficulty remembering what day of the week it is. Trust me, I get it! However, because of this our bodies natural circadian rhythm (our internal clock) is off. We have all been quarantined and social distancing for months, so try and get yourself back on some sort of regular schedule. Get up in the morning and go to sleep at night around the same time each day. The circadian rhythm is a rhythm that loves structure, so we need to support it back to health. Creating a schedule for your day to day habits may seem silly, but it’ll help.
On top of creating more structure for your day, it is also important to give yourself adequate time to unwind before turning in. This could be a variety of things; watch an ASMR video, read a book, meditate, take a nice long shower or bath. Whatever sounds relaxing to you make it a priority. Simply make sure it’s relaxing and that it’s time specifically for you. Add it to your new structured schedule and see if you are able to fall asleep once you turn out the lights.
Turn Off the Tube
There’s A LOT of messed up sh*t on the news these days. Our country is experiencing nothing like we’ve ever experienced. Anger, fear, hate, and so much sadness is nationwide. While I think it’s important to be informed, watching the news or current events prior to bed time will not help your personal unrest. Allow for adequate time between turning off the news / current events and going to bed. Watching the constant breaking news for hours leading up to your bedtime not only disturbs your circadian rhythm but will leave your restless mind racing.
Minimize Alcohol Intake
It’s been a rough year. Since social distancing was put into play alcohol intake has increased. I will admit, I too likely have been partaking in more wine than I should. So, I get it. We are bored, anxious, and we are stressed the f*ck out. However, if sleeping has become a real consistent issue try taking a break from alcohol for a bit. As a drug, alcohol naturally disturbs the neurotransmitters in the brain.
Although it might seem as though alcohol may help you fall asleep, it is actually disturbing your REM sleep. Yes, you might “pass out” from drinking alcohol but, the effects of alcohol hinders the body from actually falling into REM sleep. Even if you pass out, you will be tossing and turning all night long.
Nope, not kidding. Try and have an orgasm before bed and see if you wake up rested. Why? Well, quite simply, when you orgasm your body releases a hormone called prolactin. This hormone naturally relaxes the body. Ever wonder why you want to fall asleep or not move right after having sex? You can thank prolactin for that state of relaxation. I would hope that I wouldn’t need to talk you into giving this suggestion a try!
Magnesium + Teas for Zzz’s
Magnesium is very helpful for those who feel anxious and those who struggling with insomnia. The mineral works to regulate the neurotransmitters in the brain, which calms the nervous system and promotes REM sleep. Many sleep experts recommend taking magnesium in addition to melatonin (the sleep hormone) in order to support the circadian clock.
Instead of that glass of wine before bed, try adding in a cup of herbal tea! There are so many herbs and herbal blends that naturally promote relaxation throughout the body. Never underestimate the potent powers of plants that Mother Earth provides. Try chamomile, jasmine, or even a sleepy time blend and see how you feel in the morning.
Note: All supplements should always be discussed with your healthcare provider.
We are living in a different time. The world is more volatile and scarier than anything we have ever experienced. Of course your mind is racing, and of course sleeping has become a prominent issue for our society. Too many unknowns and too many emotions are floating around. Let’s try to not be so hard on ourselves. Support one another and support your bodies as much as we possibly can.