Insomnia can be one of the most frustrating and debilitating conditions. Lack of sleep affects us in so many ways, physically and mentally. In fact sleep deprivation affects you in a similar way to alcohol. Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.05%*. Sleep problems may be caused when you cannot get to sleep, or if you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot get back to sleep. Sleep apnoea, snoring, restless legs, worry, stress, and anxiety may be the original cause, and if it lasts too long it creates a new sleeping pattern for you which is difficult to get out of. Tossing and turning in the middle of the night can have a significant impact on your daily life, your emotions intensify and you can become angry. It affects your family life, your work life, and social life.
Given the long term issues that can occur from insomnia, it is important to focus on or seek help in trying to at least reduce if not cure insomnia. Here are a few tips to help you:
- Ensure your bedroom is dark and the right temperature. The optimum room temperature is 18-24 degrees.
- Develop a sleep routine, so you are going to bed at the same time every night and set your alarm to get up at the same time every morning calculated to ensure you get 6.5-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Don’t drink alcohol, or try not to take any form of sleep-inducing medication.
- Remove the TV and don’t use screens – the blue light from smartphones or tablets will negatively affect your ability to sleep. Light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin; blue night at light does so more powerfully*. Switch off technology at least one hour before your bedtime.
- Remove any form of stimulation from your bedroom, e.g. work. Keep a note pad and pen by your bed though so you can write down any burning thoughts or tasks you need to do the next day, then you know you won’t forget them and you can relax.
- Keep your bedroom tidy – messy rooms create busy minds.
- Have a snack rich in tryptophan one hour before bed (cheese, nuts, pineapple, lettuce or turkey). These foods are rich in the amino acid tryptophan which is essential for the two neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin, these are produced in the pineal gland and are essential for mood and sleep regulation.*
- Ensure you exercise, yoga is a useful form of exercise that can teach you how to practice slow, deep breathing and relaxation exercises.
- Try listening to relaxing music to help your mind switch off.
- Spraying lavender on your pillow may also help.
- Complementary therapies can also be useful such as acupuncture, aromatherapy and reflexology. If you are looking for a Reflexologist, please visit the Association of Reflexologists (AOR) to find a reputable and properly qualified Reflexologist in your area. As with all therapies, you want someone who has the experience and knows what they are doing so you can get the maximum benefit from treatment. You may notice a difference right away, or you may need a few sessions before you see an improvement but if you are suffering from sleep deprivation, Reflexology is definitely worth a try. There have been several research studies using reflexology to aid sleep in a variety of hospitalised patient groups. Reflexology has been tested in women who have just had babies, patients with breast cancer, patients with acute coronary syndrome, with those undergoing hemodialysis, and with a group of elderly patients. In all studies, reflexology was shown to make a significant difference in the quality of sleep obtained. A meta-analysis, which is several studies joined together (which gives it greater statistical strength) stated that ‘foot reflexology is a useful nursing intervention to relieve fatigue and to promote sleep’. Finally, a research project that looked into what reflexology does in improving sleep showed there are changed in the activity of brainwaves. The changes correspond with an increased level of sleepiness and of going into the deep level of non-rapid eye movement sleep. There is a gradual transition from wakefulness, through sleepiness, to deep sleep, which may explain many of the benefits obtained in the listed studies.*
- We have numerous customer reviews and feedback to say Revs® Reflexology shoes have helped to reduce and in some cases, cure their insomnia and sleep problems altogether, providing the same benefits as receiving regular reflexology treatments. The Revs® Massage insole works in a similar way to a Reflexology treatment. One of the main reflexes to focus on is the pineal gland (the sleep gland which secretes melatonin which promotes sleep, located on your big toes) and also the diaphragm helping to relax you.
*All references are taken from reflexions, the magazine for the Association of Reflexologists, No.131 June 2018