Most of us seem to be fighting harder and harder to wake up feeling rewarded with a good nights sleep. The first problem is of course getting to sleep, and then, staying that way until the alarm politely reminds you to get back on your feet. But at what point does not sleeping well turn into a disorder? Chronic lack of proper sleep can be debilitating in your professional and personal life. Research has strongly linked sleep deprivation to car accidents, work injuries, memory problems, and mood disorders. The fact is that insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the U.S. Many people I have spoken with personally admitted, they may not have given enough thought to factors that could be affecting their sleep. First of all, a sleep disorder is simply any condition that affects how much, and how well you sleep. This can be the result of bad lifestyle habits or a more complex medical problem. If you are feeling that you consistently don’t feel rested in the mornings, as always, bring it up to your doctor if you can to get comprehensive medical advice. Be prepared however, if your doctor suggests a sleep study may be necessary to learn more it’s going to be a costly, time consuming, inconvenient process that could very well end up with data that’s “inconclusive.” For most people, trouble sleeping can be greatly reduced using only natural remedies combined with a stronger commitment to good habits. Many say getting to sleep is the hardest part for them. That once they’re asleep, it’s not so bad, but falling asleep is routinely a struggle. Let’s examine how lifestyle habits can affect your sleep. Here at Healthy You Herbs we advocate trying hard to discover the natural route to healing before having to take synthetic pills and substances as a cure for the ailment. In this case, the goal is simply more uninterrupted zzzzzzzzzzz’s. Lifestyle Habits Affecting Your Sleep #1: The quality of your mattress and pillow Don’t underestimate the impact proper sleep equipment can have on your shuteye. Don’t cut corners here, a good pillow and mattress is worth its weight in gold. I personally held out for a long time, never spending more than $40 on a pillow. I never realized the difference it would make as a side sleeper to have a nice quality pillow capable of long-lasting support. Commit to replacing your pillow if you haven’t in the past year. Do some homework, and accept going in you could spend up to $100 each. Just keep your receipt, and if you’re not totally satisfied, they will take it back. But you could be pleasantly surprised to find yourself sleeping better immediately. #2: Eating heavy foods right before bed This increases the activity in your digestive system and puts your whole body to work. processing what just went in. When you sleep, your body goes into “repair and store” mode, so if you eat heavy items like meats, cheeses, or carbohydrates right before bed your body now has a lot of work to do. This means your brain will be actively be sending instructions to your digestive system working to store the meal. If you must have a late night snack, try eating veggie treat or piece of fruit. A proper high-fiber dinner meal of veggies and lean proteins can help you feel full for the remainder of the night so you aren’t tempted to make that midnight pantry raid. #3: Falling asleep with the TV or lights on (or any visually stimulating device!) Relaxation is the first step to preparing your body for sleep. That goes for your brain too. Sleep specialists recommend having an electronics curfew, where your bedtime routine 30-60 minutes before bed does not include looking at an electronic device. Those flickering monitors and TV screens constantly stimulate your senses, firing off new electrical pulses flooding your brain with activity. Even if the content you’re watching is the perfect “wind down” show, it’s not giving your brain a rest at all. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/sleep/articles/2011/03/07/using-electronics-before-bed-may-hamper-sleep #4: Going to bed at different times each night The body and mind have a rhythm, and your choices are what tune the beat. This rhythm is very sensitive, and failure to stick to a consistent schedule can easily lead to insomnia. If you sleep in every weekend it will make it harder to wake up Monday morning because this resets your sleep cycle. Your body is always just guessing at when it’s time to rest. #5: Drinking alcohol before bed While at first it may initially sedate you, alcohol keeps your brain in a very light mode of sleep. You can never truly achieve deep sleep while even mildly intoxicated. If you frequently use a light buzz to help you relax because you are “just not tired yet,” this could be a sign that you need to reevaluate your routine and try a more natural approach to “get tired.” A Natural Remedy If you are looking for a natural alternative to sleeping pills, you should seriously consider trying our premium all-natural Valerian Root extract. Valerian is one of natures best nerve tonics, and has been used as a medicinal herb for its mild sedative effects since ancient Greece and Rome. This natural supplement is extracted from the root of the hardy Valerian plant. Multiple recent reviews of medical research published in the scientific journal, Sleep Medicine Review, concluded that Valerian is a completely safe herbal supplement, that makes a good choice to try and improve sleep quality, and it works without producing any side effects. Simply take 1-2 capsules 30-60 minutes before bed. You won’t “feel” much at all, but after an hour you should find yourself more relaxed, and your eyelids becoming heavier. Experiment a bit to find out how long before bed you need help winding down. Each body is different, and for some taking Valerian 30 minutes before bed is perfect, for others, it can take up to 90 minutes to take full effect. You should ensure your Valerian root is of the highest quality for best results. You will notice a difference in quality if you buy Valerian over the counter at your local pharmacy compared to purchasing a premium product like the New Body 100% natural Valerian Root. If you are experiencing any acute physical pains at night, your trouble sleeping may be due to a more complex medical condition like arthritis, heartburn, COPD, or a thyroid problem. If this is the case you should absolutely speak with your doctor as soon as possible for further medical advice. Keep Your Sleep Diary Charting your sleep habits consistently for 2-3 weeks can help provide you valuable information on just how severe your sleep problem may be. By writing it down, you allow yourself to be honest looking back over the data you collect. Recording your results is an effective way to tell if your adjustments are helping your sleep cycles. One way you can keep a sleep diary is by having a simple one-page Excel sheet printed off on your nightstand, where you can conveniently fill in the numbers by hand each night or morning. Headings on your chart could read like this: Date Date Date Date Date Date … Went to bed last night at Got out of bed this morning at I feel asleep in about (mins) I woke up during sleep (times) How I felt when I woke up Total hours I slept last night My sleep was disturbed by *Conditions of Use and Important Information* This article is intended to supplement, not replace advice or instructions from your primary care doctor or healthcare provider. Information in this article does not cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not be appropriate for your specific health circumstances. Information on our blog is always intended to educate you about certain healthy products or habits. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor because of something you have read on the Healthy You Herbs blog. Our products are meant to supplement a balanced, healthy diet and lifestyle. You should always speak with your doctor or healthcare professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of treatment is right for you.