May 06, 2024

Without enough sleep, everything is worse.

From bedtime habits to stress reduction, this guide to better sleep will help you find simple solutions to help you get the rest you need. 

Why Can’t I Sleep?

There are many reasons why you can't sleep. Here are some common ones:

  • Stress
  • Irregular sleep schedule
  • Perimenopause
  • Poor sleep habits/environment
  • Pain
  • Physical illness
  • Airway blockages
  • Weight
  • Medication
  • Prostate or Bladder Issues
  • Age
  • Alcohol/Caffeine
  • Allergies
  • Inactivity
  • Poor Gut Health


How to Sleep Better: A Guide to Sleep Better

When you can’t sleep, everything is so much harder. From concentrating to being pleasant with everyone, a lack of sleep can disrupt your life. Sore muscles, fatigue, headaches, moodiness and frequent illness are also common among those who aren't getting enough quality sleep. In this guide to better sleep, there are a variety to tips and lifestyle changes that can help. Also note, some of the reasons why you can't sleep may involve metabolic issues - which may require a health professionals support to remedy.


1. Address Daytime Stress

Exposure to stressful events impairs normal sleep function, according to research.

Not all daytime stress can be reduced or eliminated, but by recognizing how much stress you're enduring during the day you can appropriately adjust your evening routine to help your body naturally unwind. For some, on a stressful day, their evenings may be best spent:

  • Putting off an emotionally charged interaction until the morning
  • Going for a walk in nature
  • Reading a book
  • Doing meditation
  • Soaking in the tub
  • Dancing or singing to your favourite music

For those considering a natural herbal medicine, you may enjoy reading research on ashwaghanda, a popular natural herbal medicine used to reduce stress.


2. Healthy Sleep Environments Matter

Close to bedtime, avoid brain-stimulating activities. Stick with a fairly regular sleep schedule. Reduce sleep-disrupting factors such as light, noise, and temperature can help you sleep. Here are some ways you can improve your sleep environment:

  • Put up dark blinds or wear an eye mask to reduce light
  • Use white noise or earplugs
  • Lower the temperature in your bedroom
  • Sleep under cozy or heavy blankets

3. Reduce Pain for Better Sleep

One of the reasons you may not be sleeping is physical pain. It can cause you to wake often during the night, or make falling asleep difficult. To support sore necks, find a good quality pillow. Use pillows to prop up a sore knee or use one between your legs to support your lower back. Adjust your bedtime routine to incorporate pain-reducing techniques, such as icing or warm baths.


4. Be Physically Active

Improve your sleep by being more active during the day (not close to bedtime). Research shows that moderate aerobic exercise boosts slow-wave (deep) sleep, which is thought to be nourishing to the body.


5. Natural Products for Better Sleep

Some natural products have been traditionally used to help with sleep. For those looking to learn more about natural products for better sleep, here are some natural herbal medicines thought to support sleep, with links to research papers:

Mounting evidence also points to cannabinoids as supportive for those who can't sleep, with combinations of CBD, CBN and/or THC showing benefits - stay tuned as more research is needed about which ideal combination is helpful. Clinics in Canada do offer physician-supported recommendations for sleep support using cannabinoids


 6. Gut Health

You can't sleep - it could be your gut. Mounting evidence suggests that gut health influences how well you sleep. Invertly, the quality of your sleep can positively or negatively impact your gut microbiome. Better sleep means a healthier gut microbiome, which can impact mood and immunity. Ah-ha! When you're tired you can be moody and more prone to illness. It's all related to what scientists call, the  the gut-brain axis. Your gut health truly influences your health. More research is needed, but it appears a healthy gut microbiome (wide diversity of helpful microbes) can increase how long and well you sleep. One way to feed your microbiome, is to eat plants - plants contain fibres that your microbiome needs to flourish. 


7. Perimenopause

Your sleep is impacted by hormones. Women have more sleep disturbances as they progress through the stages of menopause. Research shows 42% of women experience sleep disturbances during perimenopause and 60% post-menopause. The anxiety, hot flashes and joint pain that occur in perimenopause play a role in why you can’t sleep. Luckily, studies show exercise helps. It will be interesting to watch for advancements in cannabinoid research after research shows high percentages of women using it for perimenopause symptoms. 



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