Insomnia and poor sleep is a complaint I hear from quite a few patients in my NW Calgary Naturopathic Medicine practice. A lot of patients take a long time to fall asleep, a lot don’t stay asleep, and a lot don’t wake rested even if they sleep for 8 hours. Good quality sleep is very important for mental focus and concentration, adequate energy levels to get through the day, optimal moods, and even maintaining a healthy weight. Poor sleep quality can stem from many reasons, such as active mind caused by high stress levels, menopause, pain, and so much more.
As a Naturopathic Doctor, my goal is to get to the root cause of what is contributing to poor sleep in my patients and treat that. Once sleep quality is improved, patients find a lot of their other symptoms clear up. Keep reading below to discover some of the treatment options I use most often in my treatment of insomnia.
Lifestyle Counseling and Stress Management for Insomnia
Stress is probably one of the most common reasons a patient experiences poor sleep. A lot of patients say they can’t switch their mind off when they’re trying to fall asleep, or they feel a bit anxious before bed and have trouble winding down. It can be helpful to have a period of time, around 30 to 60 minutes before bed time, in which you prepare for bedtime. This can involve dimming the lights, changing into your pajamas, brushing your teeth and washing your face, and most importantly, disconnecting from your work emails and anything else that has the potential to get your mind going. Some people say if they stare at their phone screen or ipad screen before bed they also can’t fall asleep as well. As much as everyone is so busy and its hard to take this time to be “unproductive”, the trade off you could experience from better quality sleep could mean improved efficiency the next day! Do yourself a favor and allow yourself to unwind from your stressful day.
A lot of people also find exercise to be very helpful for improved quality of sleep (although some people find that exercise in the evening makes sleep more difficult…these people should exercise in the morning or on their lunch break). Yoga and meditation is also a good tool to calm the mind and balance out stress hormones, thus helping with quality of sleep.
Another trick I tell my patients is to eat a small protein and carb snack a half hour before bed. Patients that wake up at 3 am are usually experiencing a blood sugar drop, causing their cortisol to spike, which either causes them to wake up, or not be sleeping as deeply. A good snack could be half an apple and some almonds, or a few crackers with peanut butter (unless you are allergic to peanuts of course). Also be cautious about the amount of liquids you drink in the few hours before bed to avoid having to wake up to use the bathroom.
Patients that feel that they sleep a lot but still wake tired should see their medical doctor to rule out conditions such as sleep apnea.
Acupuncture for Insomnia
Acupuncture is a treatment option that works very well to help patients sleep better. Once I get an idea of a patients health history and what is going on in their life that could be contributing to poor sleep, I can choose points accordingly. The heart energetically from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective is responsible for sleep, and I always choose points that are calming and grounding energetically as well. Treatments are spaced out weekly for 4 to 6 weeks, and then the patient comes in for maintenance treatments, usually once a month. Other benefits of acupuncture include improved moods, digestion, energy, and concentration. You can read more about acupuncture here.
Vitamins and Supplements for Insomnia
Once I perform a thorough health history on my patient I can determine if there are certain nutrients that may be contributing to poor sleep. These supplements can also address active mind and stress, energy, and overall well-being. The majority of my patients find that they sleep better with the correct quality and dosing of supplements. You can read more about this here.
Botanical Medicines for Insomnia
Herbs have a very significant role to play in the treatment of insomnia. I use herbs that balance cortisol levels and calm the mind. Herbs are chosen according to my patients symptoms, whether they are post menopausal, have high stress levels, can’t stop their active mind, or all of the above. You can read more about Botanical Medicines here.
As you can see, there are so many powerful treatment options that are available in the Naturopathic treatment of insomnia. There is no need to suffer. If you have any questions about how I can help you, please do not hesitate to contact me at my NW Calgary Naturopathic Medicine practice.
#205-5403 Crowchild Trail NW
Calgary, AB T3B 4Z1