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Nothing is more refreshing than waking up and actually feeling ready for your day…can you imagine? Yes, unrefreshed sleep and sleep problems are quite common, studies show that 40% of adults experience at least one symptom of insomnia. When you are sleep deprived, you tend to have less energy and worse concentration at other parts of your day and this affects your work performance and the overall enjoyment of your day. It is also associated with greater risk of obesity, weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Having helped many with sleep problems, below is my five-step plan to waking more refreshed.

Step 1 – Set yourself up for success

You have a morning routine, now you need a night time routine. Preparation and planning is key to success in any endeavor, including sleep. Make a bed time routine in which you turn off the stimulating devices (TV, smartphone, etc.) and turn on your calming influences (warm foot bath, dimmed lights, meditative sounds, etc.); make these changes in the 60 minutes before your target bedtime. You may want to try inhaling an essential oil such as lavender or lemongrass to encourage a relaxed and calm mind. Herbal teas and extracts can really help to calm your nerves, try chamomile, oatstraw or passionflower.

You may also want to include sulpher into your diet or take supplements containing MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), which is an organic sulpher used by many to help with sleep apnea. Sulfur is an essential base for over 150 life-sustaining substances. The body specifically uses MSM to build new and healthy cells. Without adequate levels of MSM, our bodies cannot fully build good healthy cells leading to illness. Your body will use MSM wherever it is needed. As such, it is important to give your body the MSM it needs so it can build and heal itself adequately.

Step 2 – Calm your bladder

One of the common reasons we wake in the night is feeling the urge to go to the bathroom. In fact, a 2011 U.S. study appearing in The Journal of Urology found that over 20% of adult men experience ‘nocturia’ – waking at least twice each night to urinate.

Other studies also show similar numbers for adult women. This can have a devastating effect on your daytime energy and function, particularly if it takes some time to fall back asleep. A simple approach is to avoid consuming beverages in the three hours before bed and make sure to empty your bladder right before retiring to the bed. It may also be a matter of improving the tone of muscles surrounding the bladder or improving prostate health.

Step 3 – Address the stress

Poor sleep often goes hand-in-hand with stress. Often it may be office politics that dominate your thoughts, bringing work home, or the endless contact with our mobile technology with friends or work…there is such a thing as excess communication. In any case, stress has an impact on people at varying degrees and many studies have found that incorporating specific supports can really help with promoting and maintaining sleep.

The most well studied approaches include mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) – ask your health care providers of how to access these programs to help you get better sleep.

Step 4 – Help the kids

One of the most common distractions for your sleep is helping the kids or grandkids through their night. A 2014 German study appearing in the journal Phytomedicine found that for primary school children with problems of restlessness, impulsiveness and poor concentration, a herbal combination of valerian and lemon balm improved their sleep quality and significantly improved their daytime social, mental and behavioural symptoms as well.

Step 5 – Get moving

Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle are prone to having sleep problems and exercise is something that has benefits beyond what you might expect as demonstrated in a 2012 study. The study was published in The Journal of Physiotherapy and found that an exercise program in middle-aged adults proved beneficial for their sleep; the group that exercised over the course of 10-16 weeks significantly improved their sleep quality and reduced the time it takes to fall asleep.

Dr. Rahim Habib ND
About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or www.FamilyNaturopath.ca.