Which is the chicken and which is the egg?
Poor sleep and/or anxiety may be a cause of fatigue, but it may also be a consequence of fatigue, thus creating a vicious cycle.
Insomnia may manifest as difficulty falling asleep (sleep onset insomnia), or waking through the night and having difficulty getting back to sleep (sleep maintenance insomnia). This is often characteristic of the exhausted stressed person. A sense of not having enough sleep (non-restorative sleep) is often characteristic of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
The major causes of sleep-onset insomnia include anxiety/stress, pain or discomfort, caffeine and alcohol. Sleep maintenance insomnia may be linked to depression, sleep apnoea, low blood sugar, pain or discomfort, and alcohol.
In today’s modern environment, stress seems to be lurking around every corner and playing a role in so many conditions. It may not always be the driving force, but it does affect everyone differently, whether it be fatigue, lack of concentration, headaches, irritable bowel, anger and frustration, to name a few. Like so many vicious circles in our health, as mentioned above, stress may present as insomnia, or it may just be total exhaustion that is causing the stress. It is important to find out which is the instigator. Talking to one of our dedicated Naturopaths may help you.
Sleep Hygiene Tips
Good sleep hygiene is very important for everyone to ensure a good night’s sleep. Some of the main points to follow include:
- Listen to your body clock. You should try to wake up at the same time every day and go to bed at the same time. Do not fight fatigue at night time, but don’t go to bed if you’re not tired either. Going out into the early morning sunshine when you first wake up may help set your body clock.
- Sleep in a darkened, noise-free environment.
- Bed comfort and room temperature should be right for you.
- Avoid the use of stimulants, especially coffee, tea, guarana, soft drinks, and nicotine.
- Avoid alcohol – it may help you doze off initially but you won’t get a refreshing or restorative sleep.
- Removie electrical and/or digital devices such as TV, mobile phone, ipads, and computers, from the bedroom. This may help by reducing the effect of artificial blue light which stimulates the mind, disrupts the body’s internal clock, and suppresses the release of melatonin, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
- Use your bedroom for sleep and intimacy only. If you treat it like a second lounge room – like watching TV or talking on the phone, your mind may associate your bedroom with activity and you’ll find it harder to fall asleep.
- Relax your mind. Try turning everything off at least half an hour before bed to let you wind down naturally. Try relaxation exercises. Although we are trying to avoid the digital exposure immediately before bed, nowadays there are many free apps to help with calm and meditation.
- Have a warm shower or bath up to an hour before bed. This may help relax those aching muscles and allow your mind to unwind.
- Exercise every day, but not close to bedtime. Your body needs time to wind down and return to normal temperature.
- Don’t take afternoon naps.
- If you can’t fall asleep in a reasonable amount of time, get up and leave the room. Read a book for half an hour or listen to some calming music. As soon as you start to feel tired, go back to bed.
There are many herbs that may also help relieve anxiety and/or stress, and help calm the nerves to ensure a good night sleep. Depending on what is happening in your life, what techniques you are using to cope with stress/anxiety, there are some herbal remedies that may be taken throughout the day to help prevent a build-up of tension or mental excitability. Adrenal tonics may also help maintain blood sugars during the night. Other herbs may be used for pain management or reducing inflammation, if this is what is disrupting your sleep. Talk to your Naturopath to find the right herbal remedy for you.
An often unrecognised factor behind fatigue (and especially CFS) is toxin overload. Toxins may act as chronic stressors to the body. Toxins are usually processed by the immune system and/or the liver. The source of the toxins may be recreational, medical, occupational, environmental and/or dietary.
For more information on how detoxifying your body may give you more energy and help you feel renewed, see our next blog.Disclaimer: The advice on this website is of a general nature only and Nurtura Health expressly disclaims all liability arising out of the improper use of the information provided. Nurtura Health actively discourages any self-diagnosis or self-medication. Please consult your health practitioner regarding these important health issues. All rights reserved.