By

Shannon Ginnan

| 04/12/2016

Lifestyle Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep with Shannon Ginnan, MD

Lifestyle Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep with Shannon Ginnan, MD

Sleep should be easy. Most of us live a pretty fast pace life and are tired after a day of work and family obligations. You would think that sleep would follow exhaustion, right?

Not necessarily. The National Sleep Foundation has found that approximately 10 – 15% of adults suffer from chronic insomnia and that as many as 40% of adults have dealt with insomnia to some degree in the last year. Why do so many people have trouble sleeping?

There are a lot of possible reasons why you can’t get to sleep. Lack of exercise and a poor diet can be culprits, and so can anxiety, depression and stress. Watching TV and surfing the net in your bedroom can keep you up at night. Drinking alcohol can make your sleep less restful, and drinking caffeine too soon before bed can keep you from sleeping at all.

There are a lot of obstacles that can come between you and the sleep you need. So how can we fix this problem?

How To Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Getting to sleep doesn’t have to involve doctors or sleep professionals. If you’re battling insomnia, this list of easy lifestyle changes that can have you snoozing in no time.

Exercise regularly, and not within 2 hours of going to bed

Exercise increases blood flow and revs up your system. However, there are some people who become extremely tired after exercising and will remain so for hours if they do not nap. If you’re one of these people, exercising before bed can actually help.

Reserve the bed for sleeping – and sex

Avoid using your sleeping space for reading or watching TV. The brain learns “rituals,” and if it expects you to be awake in bed for one to two hours before sleeping, it’s going to perpetuate that habit by keeping you awake.

Try to avoid taking naps during the day

Yes, no matter how tired you feel. Naps can be helpful when your sleep patterns at night are fine, but if you’re struggling with insomnia, naps, especially if they’re an hour or longer in the afternoon, can worsen your nighttime difficulties with sleep.

Eat a balanced, nutritious diet

Your diet affects your hormone and neurotransmitter production, both key factors in balancing mood and helping with sleep. For best results, eat a diet high in protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.

Some over-the-counter supplements can be helpful

Melatonin, skullcap, valerian, chamomile, and other herbs can be useful in calming an over-stimulated nervous system, and they may help some people fall asleep. Unfortunately, around 70% of over-the-counter supplements do not contain what they say on the label, so be sure to buy USP verified supplements or purchase them through a physician so you know that you’ll be receiving a quality product.

When you’re trying to sleep at night, your lifestyle can hold the key to dreamland. If this list is overwhelming or you don’t think you can do them all, try implementing them one at a time and seeing what works best for you. It’s better to work with slow, simple changes that you can maintain than it is to throw everything at one big effort that you drop in a week. With patience and determination, you can finally nip your insomnia in the bud and get the restful sleep you’ve always dreamed of.

About the Author

Dr. Shannon Ginnan has been a leader in the field of Aesthetic and Laser Medicine in the Washington DC metro area for nearly 15 years. Dr. Ginnan has also expanded his scope of knowledge in the field of Functional Medicine – a discipline that excels at helping individuals function at their highest genetic capacity within their environment. 

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