In my last post I discussed some healthy sleep habits and ideas to help you get a good quality rest. Now let’s move onto what keeps you from sleeping well. The list is legion so I have tried to categorize them in a general way. I’m always happy to talk to you about you, so drop me a line if you have questions beyond what I discuss here.
Waking up at night (Sleep latency troubles)
There are so many reasons for this, from having to use the bathroom, to children crying but staying asleep is a major obstacle for people and one I’d like to address here.
- Night Sweats: Bothersome doesn’t even begin to describe how terrible these can be. There are a lot of reasons you may be experiencing this, so getting to the bottom of what is causing it, is imperative. Hormones, medical conditions (both acute and chronic), medications, and an overly hot bedroom can be causing you to drench your sheets. Some are easier to fix than others and many require supporting your body in other ways to help reduce nighttime sweating. Unfortunately, I can’t write all of the various reasons why this happens to you and then all the ways in which to address it, but this is where customization of your herbal formulas becomes important. For example, if it’s hormonal and more specifically caused by menopause, then it’s more important to figure out how to support your reproductive system overall, rather than figure out ways to just sleep through your sweating (which won’t happen no matter what herbs or meds you take).
A few tips that work no matter what the cause is: keeping your room cool, dressing in less (or nothing), and having sheets that aren’t too warm. One other tip that could just make it easier, keep a towel under you and when you wake up, just toss it off the bed and you have a dry surface to sleep on once more.
SSRIs & Night Sweats in Primary Care Population (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4883206/)
Common causes of night sweats
Night Sweats: A Systematic Review of the Literature (https://www.jabfm.org/content/25/6/878)
- Using the bathroom: Aside from suffering an acute condition (unhappy bowels), you should not be waking up at night to use the toilet. If this is a common problem, you better start digging into the why. While most aren’t very serious or worrisome, an enlarged prostate is nothing to ignore, so make sure you’re taking care of such an issue. The easiest way to tackle this – no water before bed. Figure out how much water you need for the day (including exercise) and stop drinking it several hours before bed. There are some medications that can be causing this, but that is not a common side effect for many drugs. One more easy thing to check is how much Vitamin D you’re taking. There is evidence linking excessive vitamin D intake to nocturia (night time urination).
Medications that can cause urinary incontinence (https://www.health.harvard.edu/bladder-and-bowel/medications-that-can-cause-urinary-incontinence)
- Children: These small creatures can really challenge your ability to sleep through the night. If something is bothering them, provided it’s not a real medical problem, then helping them to sleep better is important to both of you. I won’t talk much about this here, as the internet is rife with recipes and ideas for safe herbal solutions on this subject. In my next post, I will go over herbs and mark the ones that are generally recognized as safe for kids.
- Medications: Insomnia, interrupted REM sleep,and night sweats are all caused by many various medications. The list for this is huge and I will just include a link so you can see if something you’re taking is on there. I do not recommend ever stopping medication without the advice of your doctor (or whoever is in charge of your meds), so assuming you will continue to take the medications causing this issue, I will address it along with the herbs in my next post.
If you can’t even fall asleep easily, then who cares about staying asleep….right?! Maybe we should tell all these complainers to quite their whining because at least they sleep in the first place… Unfortunately, many people who have trouble staying asleep also struggle to fall asleep. Either way, getting to sleep is numero uno on the path to successfully getting the rest your body needs.
- Circling Thoughts: Probably the most common amongst sufferers, but luckily the easiest to fix. Your brain just won’t rest; it keeps listing out all the things you have to do or that you did wrong and you can’t get to sleep. There are herbs to help calm the mind and I will talk about those later, but I want to take this opportunity to stress again about how important it is to take care of your anxiety and general well-being with meditation. It’s such an easy thing to do before you go to bed (or even once you’re in bed) and there are fantastic and FREE options everywhere.
- Pain: This is pretty self-explanatory and rather common as well. There are herbs that can address this, but understanding the source of your pain is a major first step to helping get treatment.
- Feeling suddenly “not tired”. This can be related to depression and anxiety or fear of missing out (FOMO).
Hopefully, (or maybe not) you identify with some of these issues and are looking for ways to feel better. Sleep is a touchy and complicated process; once disturbed it cascades to a host of other problems that you’re stuck dealing with.
Solving your sleep troubles and getting the rest your body requires is the first step towards a healthier you. So start with my previous article for simple tips to jump start your sleep routine, figure out what could be causing your sleep troubles, and finally, find some herbs that may work to support your body’s sleep activity (next post). The next post may stretch out into two, depending on how much I try to cram in there, so be on the lookout.
Until then, take care and try to get some sleep.