Insomnia: everything you need to know to sleep well – by Dr. Helly Hernandez
Few people enjoy a pleasant sleep every night. Some people have trouble falling asleep, others wake up several times at night and others only manage to sleep for a few hours or do not have a good night’s sleep. Do not let insomnia ruin your quality of life, follow our advice.
Sleeping well have healing properties
Sleep occupies an important part of our lives and it is not lost time, on the contrary it is an investment in our health.
Several scientific studies confirm that sleeping well is as beneficial to our health as eating healthy and exercising regularly.
Serious problems if you do not sleep well
Sleep deprivation leads to deleterious effects on the functions of the body, increasing the risk of developing a wide variety of chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and some types of cancer such as breast and prostate cancer.
Everything the body does for you while you sleep
During sleep several processes related to the health of the individual are carried out. First, hormones such as somatotatin and leptin are secreted.
These hormones fulfill functions related to cellular renewal / repair and appetite regulation. The control of glycemia (blood sugar level) is also regulated during the night. In addition, sleep helps strengthen the immune system and improve the cardiovascular system.
Sleeping well is essential for the brain, more than for any other organ. During sleep, neural connections are reorganized with the aim of processing all the information obtained during the day. The brain analyzes the emotions and stressors to handle them properly. Consolidates the information and knowledge obtained and stores it in memory. Finally, it eliminates waste products of neuronal activity. Therefore, it is understandable that insomnia has a significant impact on your health.
Do we have to sleep 8 hours every night?
There is no standard for sleeping, only averages. It is usually recommended to sleep between 7-8 hours a day, however not all bodies are the same and therefore not everyone has the same sleep needs: some people need only 5 to 6 hours while others need 8 to 10 hours of sleep. What really causes concern to health professionals is the tendency to sleep less and less. Dragging fatigue is common, and sleep disorders affect younger and younger people.
The right time to fall asleep
In our body, the ideal moment to sleep is determined by an internal clock that regulates the sleep-wake rhythm.
A small clock in your brain
This clock is located in a tiny structure of the hypothalamus, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, and is synchronized according to external signals, within which the most important is light, and internal factors such as the decrease in body temperature.
At night, when the light goes down, a hormone is released in the brain called melatonin, which gradually leads to falling asleep.
This type of light prevents you from sleeping.
The production of melatonin is regulated by light. However, modern life leads to changes in our rhythm that lead to a decrease in its secretion. This usually happens when we are exposed to the blue light of computers, which completely suppresses the synthesis of melatonin.
How to set your internal clock (9 tips to apply in the morning)
To facilitate the conciliation of sleep and to achieve a restful sleep, it is necessary to create the ideal conditions for the release of melatonin. These 9 simple changes are very effective to regulate your internal clock:
1-Splash of light for a better sleep.
Exposure to intense light during the day is essential to provide the organism with the rhythm of alternating day / night. The light interrupts the synthesis of melatonin while waiting for the evening.
To properly synchronize the brain and sleep, the intensity of the light must reach an intensity of at least 2500 lux, which is what daylight offers in winter and cloudy weather.
However, artificial lighting is usually less than 250 lux, which is not enough to satisfy this need. Using a light therapy lamp on your desk can help you sleep more easily at night.
2 -Get physically (but not at any time)
Physical exercise improves the quality of sleep. Obviously, it activates the need for recovery, but acts in a much more complex way in all the mechanisms of the internal clock that regulates wakefulness and sleep cycles.
Practicing at least 2 hours and a half of moderate exercise per week for 4 months provides surprising benefits, even in cases of chronic insomnia. It is recommended to do aerobic exercises such as: cycling, walking, swimming, skating, etc.
Sports activities must be done during the day. Otherwise, excitement and increased body temperature after exercise can disturb sleep.
3-Eliminate these bad habits
Caffeine stimulates the activity of the central nervous system, coffee acts in our body for at least 5 hours, which means that if you drink a cup at 7 pm, half the caffeine will continue to act on your body 5 hours later, around midnight. Do you understand the problem?
Remember that caffeine is also found in tea, cola, energy drinks and some medications (psychostimulants, analgesics, appetite suppressants). Theobromine contained in dark chocolate has effects similar to those of caffeine.
4-Eat at the right time … the right foods
Avoid meat, alcohol, sauces, and cold meats at dinner. It is recommended not to eat anything 2 hours before going to bed because the digestion alters the sleep conciliation.
Dining late at night, or worse, getting up at night to eat, interrupts the internal clock and interferes with sleep.
5-Respect regular schedules and your own rhythms
When a person has a fragile sleep, it is essential to go to bed without fighting sleep and getting up at the same time every day. Otherwise, it is like staying permanently jet-lag. Maintaining a routine will help your body establish a rhythm consistently.
Do not worry if you go to bed from time to time, just keep the time to wake up, your internal clock will adapt and restart the next night.
6-To do 1 hour and a half before going to bed
You should avoid exposing yourself to the light of computers an hour and a half before going to bed, and stay away from the television if you look at it. Eliminate night lamps with LED or fluorescent bulbs that are too stimulating. Remove lights from electronic devices, as they may interfere with the proper production of melatonin.
7-Do not take your worries under the quilt
Avoid discussions before bedtime. relax before going to bed, read a book, take a warm bath, perform meditation, etc. Whatever the activity, the important thing is that you relax, performing these routines every night will improve the tension of the day and the quality of your sleep.
8-A cool room and warm feet
To avoid the decrease in metabolism, maintain a temperature between 59 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit (15-20 degrees Celsius) in your room. However, keep the extremities of the body warm.
9-Atmosphere that promotes sleep
The noise decreases the quality of sleep. Use earplugs if necessary. Another point: Having a quality quilt is essential to get a good night’s sleep. The specialists recommend changing it at least every 10 years.
Essential oils to put you to sleep
There are many essential oils that can help you relax, Essential oils act on several levels:
1-To create an olfactory atmosphere conducive to relaxation
2-Harmonize the nerve sphere
3-Promotion of the dream
The most recommended essential oils to obtain an adequate rest are:
true lavender, tangerine, sweet orange, ravintsara, marjoram, noble chamomile, etc. These oils have a sedative and anxiolytic effect that has been studied for many years.
There are many methods to use these oils, choose the one that best suits your needs and create your own ritual.
In the bath
Taking a 20-minute hot bath is very relaxing and relieves tension-related stress. Since essential oils do not mix directly in water, use a liquid soap or dispersant base to dilute 15 to 20 drops of one or more of the essential oils listed above. Mix well before pouring into the bath water.
In an electric diffuser.
Expanding in the room a mixture of essential oil parts of tangerine and lavender, without place will help you fall asleep.
At bedtime, apply 3 drops of pure ravintsara essential oils to the inner surface of the wrists and breathe deeply several times in a row.
In a bowl, pour a teaspoon of vegetable oil and add 10 drops of mandarin essential oils, 10 drops of ravintsara essential oils and 10 drops of lavender. Ask your mate to perform a massage with this mixture.
Beware of sleeping pills
If despite complying with these advice, falling asleep is still a problem, you should use other methods. In very few cases the solution for insomnia is in sleeping pills or benzodiazepines since these carry important side effects. Taking sleeping pills has even been associated with a triple risk of death.
The best alternative are plants and relaxation techniques such as conscious meditation or sophrology. Using breathing techniques and different tools, they promote body-mind integration. Cardiac coherence is a great tool to control stress and emotions. It is used worldwide for one of the simplest and most effective techniques to combat anxiety.
3 plants that help you sleep
Escholtzia or California poppy is a deeply sedative plant. It contains a sedative and a natural hypnotic, californidin, which prolongs the duration of the sleep phase. In addition, it increases sleep time and quality. It is also effective as an anxiolytic and natural relaxant.
The California poppy can be easily associated with passionflower (Passiflora incarnata L), a plant that is very effective in sleep disorders related to nervousness and anxiety. It facilitates the conciliation of sleep and contributes to obtain a restful sleep.
In case of nervous tension and agitation, valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is recommended; significantly reduces anxiety and helps you fall asleep. Its effectiveness is comparable to that of benzodiazepines but without the side effects and the risk of addiction. It may take between 2 to 3 weeks to perceive its effects.
If you are over 50 years old
The intake of melatonin is very effective in facilitating sleep. Because the secretion of melatonin tends to decrease with age, it has been shown that its intake is very effective especially for people over 50 years.
A dose of 0.3 mg reduces sleep time, improves the quality of sleep and prevents nighttime awakening. However, the use of 1 or 2 mg of melatonin on an ad-hoc basis is not a problem. The spray form is recommended because it allows for better bioavailability.
In case of early awakening.
When the awakening is too early, we must consider that the individual may be going through episodes of the depression issue.
But before mentioning this, it should be borne in mind that a deficit in neurotransmitters can cause a true alteration of the nervous system. Two neurotransmitters in particular are very important: the dopamine secreted in the morning and the serotonin (precursor of melatoonin) secreted at the end of the day.
When there is little dopamine in your body, you feel tired and depressed. A deficiency of serotonin not only produces sleep disturbances, but also irritability and compulsive cravings for sweets at the end of the day.
To increase the levels of dopamine in your body, you should avoid eating carbohydrates at breakfast and increase protein intake to nourish the brain: egg, ham, etc. Another option is the consumption of dietary supplements of tyrosine (the amino acid precursor of dopamine).
In cases of serotonin deficiency the intake of an African plant called griffonia is recommended as it increases the secretion of tryptophan (precursor of serotonin).
The cofactors of neurotransmitters
Magnesium plays a crucial role in the regulation of wakefulness / sleep rhythms. The intake of magnesium supplements with zinc and melatonin has been shown to improve the quality of sleep.
Zinc also plays an important role in the conciliation of sleep, participates in the production of serotonin and melatonin and increases the duration of sleep.