As much as this oily farmgirl loves her animals, counting sheep as I lay in bed is NOT my favorite thing to do. In fact, it’s downright annoying and, over time, it can actually become destructive to the body. Usually, I have no trouble falling asleep, but there are times when I wake up with some thought that is front and center in my brain and refuses to leave. That’s a problem. Thankfully, it isn’t a chronic issue for me, but when it does happen, it sure makes the following day a little more challenging.
If you do suffer from chronic sleep dysfunction, ultimately your health will be affected. Heart disease, cancer, mood disorders, immune system function, the healing process, memory loss, diabetes, and increased speed of aging….. all of these (and more!) become more likely to occur with chronic insufficient sleep.
Sleep issues are incredibly diverse, and this post will certainly not do the topic justice. Some of the most common reasons for not falling asleep, not achieving deep sleep, or nocturnal awakenings (my occasional complaint) can be blamed on everything from health conditions to bad sleep habits.
- vitamin (D) or mineral (magnesium or potassium) deficiency
- decreased melatonin production
- hormone imbalances (especially common in menopause and ‘man’opause)
- thyroid or adrenal imbalances
- cardiovascular disease
- heartburn and reflux (GERD)
- kidney disease and/or bladder dysfunction
- respiratory disorders (including sleep apnea)
- poor gut health (our gut bacteria is largely responsible for neurotransmitter production that facilitate sleep)
- a bad mattress or pillow (or one that doesn’t suit your body’s needs)
- stress, depression, and/or anxiety
- the result (a side effect) of many many medication’s side effects
- caffeine (especially in the afternoon/evenings)
- not enough exercise during the day (preferably early in the day)
- money! (this is actually THE #1 reason people lose sleep)
- poor sleep hygiene habits:
- not dark enough in the bedroom
- temperature of the bedroom is not cool enough
- light emitting technology (TV’s, ipads, phones) in the bedroom
- heavy meal at dinner time
- not enough ‘downtime’ (including technology) before bed
Recognizing that one or more of these factors may be affecting your sleep quality is the first step to achieving a better night’s sleep. Many of these factors are physiological dysfunctions and the ’cause and effect’ can become cyclical very quickly. For example, pain can prevent sound sleep. Conversely, lack of sleep can magnify pain and lower the pain threshold. It is situations like these that can easily develop into chronic sleep pattern disruptions.
Lest you think “My doctor can give me a pill for that, right?”, let me lay out some facts. I see far too many people at the pharmacy assume that taking a pill is an easy fix for a sleep disorder, and this group of medications is a classic example of cause and effect.
- Prescription sleeping pills are designed for short term use only. None of the narcotic sleeping aids are approved by the FDA for daily longterm use (Ambien, Lunesta, etc).
- Narcotic sleeping pills increase the risk of:
- developing a rapid tolerance to the prescribed strength and bear the risk of addiction (if you have been using them regularly, tapered discontinuation is generally recommended because of this)
- drowsy driving
- erratic behavior/ memory issues
- DEPRESSION (can cause and actually make existing depression worse)
- increasing the risk of infection
I am all about sustainable living in all aspects of life. Long term nightly use of prescription sleep aids is not sustainable, safe, or approved by the FDA….. and yet nearly 9 million Americans take prescription sleep aids on any given night.
By far, the majority of sleep dysfunction can be corrected by simply improving sleep hygiene habits, improving diet ( and adding a probiotic like Young Living’s Life 9), adding activity and exercise to a life schedule, and most importantly managing stress in a holistic manner. The limbic system within our brain is a powerful tool we can utilize to help us fall and stay asleep. If you have been around oils for any length of time, you understand the important role that the limbic system also plays in memory and in our body’s physiologic response to odors…… odors including those of our beloved Young Living oils. There has been a tremendous amount of research on this topic, especially regarding fragrances with very specific constituents that have therapeutic properties. Fascinating stuff. So, in addition to modifying your sleep habits, it may behoove you to experiment with a few of the Young Living oils or oil blends known for their sleep support:
Any or all of the above may support your sleep in ways you never imagined possible. Tranquil and Rutavala are designed to be used topically, and come in a roller bottle ready for use. I use Tranquil nightly at the bottom base of my big toes (vitaflex points) to help me sleep at night. All of the other oils can either be applied topically (same location) or on the wrist or neck, diluted and spritzed on a pillow, or diffused.
Two other products, Sleep Essence and Immupro are Young Living sleep support supplements that may also keep you from having to count sheep. Both are oil infused and contain melatonin, a key hormone needed for healthy sleep patterns. Additionally, 1-3 drops of Lavender Vitality oil under the tongue may also prove to be your best nighttime friend.
As mentioned previously, there is a tremendous amount of information on sleep, and I always feel like understanding a body process (or dysfunction) is key to finding a solution that affects the root of the problem…. not a band-aid to simply address the superficial symptoms. Moving forward, I will be offering an online class on Sleep at least every 6 weeks if you’d like to learn more. You can watch for class dates (as well as other classes) here on my blog: https://thewellnessprepper.com/ , where upcoming classes are posted regularly.
I hope that this post has encouraged and inspired you to give your sleep a little support. So put that flock of sheep away, and work towards getting at least 7 hours of quality ZZZZZZ a night!
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