If you a tossing and turning all night and find it hard to have a stable sleep this could be the moment to visit Health Space Rozelle and see one of our practitioners. Jan Denecke ( clinical nutritionist) and Maggie Godin (acupuncturist) explain why sleep is important, and what approaches might be helpful
Jan Denecke, Clinical Nutritionist and Holistic Health Coach
“Periods of sleep disturbance is really not that uncommon and can be related to the life stage, diet, mental and emotional stresses and environmental factors. Common causes of sleep disturbance are worry, acute or chronic stress, hormonal changes, chronic pain, high weight, alcohol use and environmental influences such as surrounding noise, light, electronic use.
Chronic lack of sleep has been associated with reduced performance and concentration. This can have devastating effects on your health. Sleep difficulty, or insomnia, is associated with infertility, hypertension, low immunity, inflammation and obesity. Inadequate sleep has shown to increase appetite, leads to addictive effects to for example junk foods, sugar, and coffee and slows down our metabolism.
So how to support someone with sleep difficulties? Many factors contribute to sleep difficulty that is why it is important to get a full understanding of underlying circumstances and influences. his means assessing the diet and diet habits and developing a proper diet and eating rhythm with lots of nutrients that support the nervous system and sleep But also eliminating environmental and behavioural influences such as late night television or electronic use and replacing strenuous exercise in the evening for calming practices like yoga and meditation. When stress is a big factor it will be hard to unwind and relax. This is when I look into providing nutrients through supplements that provide building blocks that calm the nervous system and produce sleep promoting neurotransmitters and hormones such as GABA and melatonin. Main goal is to help the body and mind develop a natural and well working circadian rhythm. ”
Maggie Godin, Acupuncturist
” Establishing circadian rhythm is definitely key in helping people get back on track with their sleep. In traditional Chinese medicine our meridians are literally set up on a “clock system” with each one having its time to rise and rest! When people have difficulty falling asleep or waking at certain times it can point to unrest or disturbance in a particular element: water, fire, wood, metal or earth.
For example, when people wake up between 1-3AM and can’t seem to go back to sleep it often means their wood meridian is out of balance. The wood meridian houses the liver and gallbladder system in Chinese medicine and this is not reference to anatomical organs but systems that are responsible for certain functions in the body. The liver system (which is meant to rest and restore between 1-3AM) is responsible for moving substance and blood through the body. It is also connected to tendons (sinews) and opens to the eyes. People with wood imbalance often experience body pain and stiffness. The liver meridian is also prone to anxiety and stress and can erupt upwards when there is too much stress. This can cause headaches, sighing or angry outbursts. When we are waking in the time the liver should be resting it may mean we are experiencing too much emotional or environmental stress in our daily lives.
With Chinese medicine we can work very quickly to figure out which element is not in harmony and use acupuncture immediately to start that meridian on its pathway back to balance. Acupuncture also releases relaxing neurochemicals which can help put the body back in a relaxed state. Because acupuncture works so well in this way, it is also really easy to “retrain” people in their waking habits once the meridian is balanced. Retraining people to relax into sleep when they wake can be as easy as anchoring their relaxation to smells during an acupuncture session where neurochemicals are released. The treatments are sometimes the closest we can come to a restorative holiday in an hour!”