Dr. Mark Kestner (crop)

Kestner

It may be time for you to make a temporary change in habits to improve your sleep and health.

Have you ever heard of a “sleepcation”? In preparing for this article, I thought I had created a new word.  However, I found that there are several that have used this word before my first use.

For some people, a sleepcation can be a physical escape to a resort or perhaps just a quiet local hotel to just sleep and rest. They turn their cell phones off, let key people know how to reach them if there is a true emergency, then just hibernate for a few days. They sleep all day if they want. Maybe if they get ambitious, then they get up and relocate to the pool for a nap.

For many people, taking a physical trip is not practical due to obligations or expense. In situations like this, an alternative home-based sleepcation may be helpful.

To take a sleepcation at home, determine the best way for you to increase the number of hours that you sleep. Depending upon your circumstances, this may mean altering your morning schedule to allow you to sleep in a little or you may accomplish this best by going to bed an hour (or more) earlier each night.

At first, many people find it difficult to actually increase their sleep, even though they are physically in bed. Kids, habits, distractions, noises, temperature variances, light sources or other factors may prevent sleep. If that is the case, it may be necessary to stick to the new schedule for several weeks until you adjust your routine and learn how to avoid the distractions. Some distractions may be difficult to avoid and creativity and persistence may be required.

If you have trouble sleeping during the extra time, don’t fret. It may take a few nights to allow your body and mind to relax enough to sleep.  It is important to resist the urge to turn on the TV, radio or use your smart phone, e-reader, notebook computer or tablet.  Avoiding the light stimulation as well as the mental stimulation is essential to better rest. Quiet, soothing sounds such as ocean, falling rain, white noise or similar background sounds can be helpful.

Even if you don’t fall asleep right away, resting quietly in bed helps soothe a frazzled nervous system that has been overworked. To avoid worry and other mental distractions, some people have learned to focus their attention on their breathing.

Scents can occasionally be helpful to promote sleep. Using essential oils to add pleasing relaxing scents to the room can promote sleep.

Instead of taking over-the-counter or prescription medications to sleep, try natural melatonin, herbal kava kava, magnesium supplement or other natural products to enhance relaxation.

Unlike a getaway sleepcation, a home-based sleepcation may last for two to three weeks. Since you are still in your normal environment and still must attend to the majority of your normal obligations and responsibilities, the amount and quality of your sleep may be limited at home. 

You might find that the benefits of going to bed an hour earlier may be so helpful that you decide to adjust your schedule indefinitely.

For many people, finding a way to get more rest may be the most beneficial step they can take to improving their health. Sleep deprivation can be very challenging to good health even in mild conditions.  Your body needs regular sleep to accomplish a myriad of critical health maintenance processes.  Physical, emotional and mental health problems begin developing after only a few weeks of inadequate sleep.

If you find that taking steps such as a sleepcation are inadequate to restore your sense of being well rested and energetic, you may be experiencing a health condition that requires consulting a doctor.  Sleep apnea and other conditions can be diagnosed only by doctors. If in doubt, consult a specialist. 

For many people with sleep disturbances, our truly pain-free acupuncture has been very helpful. In my clinical experience, our acupuncture patients often report better sleep soon after beginning treatment.

In fact, the most common comment mentioned by our acupuncture patients is that they are sleeping better. No matter what their original complaint is, such as migraines, back or joint pain or something else people often mention they are sleeping batter after their first treatment.

Stay happy and stay healthy!

Dr. Mark Kestner is a licensed chiropractic physician in Murfreesboro. His office is at 1435 NW Broad St. Contact him at mkestner@DrKestner.com.

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