Is sleep a problem? When you talk about it with your family or friends often, some very common options include making a room as dark as possible and to avoid the use of electronics one hour prior to going to sleep. What else can we do?? We want to avoid the long-term use of over-the- counter (OTC) and prescription sleep aids. Some have been shown to significantly increase the risk of dementia! To offer some other options that maybe be better, and more long-term, to get restorative sleep check out these seven suggestions!
1) Magnesium (supplement) – Magnesium has been found to help decrease stress hormones, and it can help muscles relax! Diminishing stress and creating physical body calm can obviously help promote more restful sleep! Make sure to talk to your doctor before starting a new supplement.
2) Exercise – Exercise triggers an increase in body temperature, and that post-exercise temperature decline may allow you to fall asleep more easily. We also know that exercise is incredibly helpful in combating stress which can allow your body to relax more easily! The ideal time of day for exercise in its relationship to sleep is different for everyone. However, physical activity throughout your day is going to create a greater need for your body to seek rest.
3) Melatonin (supplement) – Melatonin is a hormone made by the body to help control sleep/wake cycles. It is also found in small quantities in some foods and can be taken as a supplement. Keep in mind that light affects melatonin production (so keep that room dark!), and our production of it lessens as we age! Again, make sure to talk to your doctor before starting a new supplement.
4) Consider a Morning Walk Outside – It gets you some needed Vitamin D, wakes you up and helps set your circadian cycles! Getting at least 15-20 minutes of natural light each day can do wonders!
5) Hemp Oil – High quality hemp oil typically has minimal, if any, THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) and can be very helpful in promoting improved sleep. Hemp oil nourishes the endocannabinoid system which works to create system and body balance.
6) Craniosacral Therapy – This light touch, non-manipulative approach aligns the spine and organs and works to nourish the body tissues. It is intended to calm down your nervous system so that your body can function in a place of balance often allowing for more restful sleep.
7) Food and Beverage Consumption – Avoiding food and drink at least 2-3 hours prior to bedtime can be a helpful tool. You want to allow your body to restore itself while sleeping rather than focusing on digestion. And, no one wants to disrupt sleep with a trip to the bathroom!
These are just some option to aid in getting more sleep restorative sleep. Please before trying any of the above please follow-up with your health care provider to ensure these are save for you and to ensure there is not an underlying physiological issue (for example Sleep apnea) that is impeding you sleep.
For more: This article from 2015 discusses the impact of sleep aids and allergy meds on brain health (https://blog.aarp.org/2015/01/29/common-sleep-and-allergy-medications-linked-to-dementia-alzheimers/)