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Dr Greg Millar;  Dr Ken Randolph;
Dr Dana Berthiaume;  Dr Justin Walbom

How to Get a Good Night's Sleep

Ensuring Restful Sleep - Positive Self-Talk

A great way to establish the habit of restful sleep is to quietly talk to yourself a little before falling asleep. In essence you're talking directly to your subconscious mind, and the instructions you give your subconscious can go far toward ensuring a good night's sleep and a successful day tomorrow.

Positive self-talk has been championed by renowned plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz in his world-famous book, Psycho-Cybernetics, and by many leaders in the field of human peak performance, including Earl Nightingale, Napoleon Hill, and Norman Vincent Peale.
You can say things like:

  • I sleep through the night. I sleep deeply and well.
  • I wake up relaxed, refreshed, restored, renewed, revived.
  • I will have a great day tomorrow. I'll meet the right people and speak with the right people. Everything goes my way.
  • I am healthy and well. I am healthy and well.

You'll notice, after a few nights of brief, quiet positive self-talk, that you're falling asleep quicker and that your days are becoming much easier, much more enjoyable. Things are flowing your way. It's quite remarkable.

Gratitude is also very important.  Consider keeping a gratitude journal and give thanks for your wonderful family, friends, job or career - everything you can think of for which you are thankful.  Writing them down will make you appreciate just how many blessings you have in your life.

Did you know that Americans spend more than $2 billion each year on sleep-aiding medications. Sleep is supposed to be a natural process. So why do so many of us have difficulty getting a good night's sleep? 

Daily stresses such as work problems, financial difficulties, and family challenges, can all keep a person up at night.1 We rehash what was said over and over again, or we endlessly review the problems confronting us.  Then we start to worry even more as we notice the minutes and hours ticking away, wondering how we will be able to make it through our day with insufficient sleep.

One thing that may help is to write about the situation that is troubling you.  Some people like to write in a journal before they go to bed, but some prefer writing their thoughts down less formally in a regular notebook they keep by their bed.  It is very therapeutic to write down everything  on your mind, without censoring yourself.  Just vent in your notebook and get it all out so you don't have to keep thinking about it.  If you are upset with someone, write them a letter that you know you won't send just to lessen the emotional charge and let go of the conflict mentally.  If or when you do communicate with the person involved, you'll be more centered and clear, and will likely experience a better outcome.

Sometimes it is less about venting and more about getting some ideas on the page so you can follow them up later.  Again, writing them down allows you to put it aside so you can let go of the cycling thoughts and get some rest.

While it's best not too eat too much before you go to bed, eating a snack that contains protein can help keep your blood sugar levels more balanced throughout the night for more restful sleep.  Organic, whole milk yogurt is a good choice, or try a bit of organic turkey which contains tryptophan that can help make you feel sleepy.  Avoid grains and sugar though, because that can spike your blood sugar and make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.

One of the best things you can do to prevent insomnia is avoid using full spectrum lights and keep whatever lighting you are using as dim as possible in the evening.  Himalayan Salt lamps are especially nice for this, as they give off a peaceful glow and healthful negative ions.  It is also important to avoid watching television just before bed, not just because the content can increase insomnia, but also because it emits quite a bit of blue light which can make your body think it is day time.  Computer monitors also emit a lot of blue light, but there is a free program called f.lux which may make using a computer at night less likely to interfere with your sleep.  Also, make sure your bedroom is dark enough, or wear an eye mask if you can't otherwise block out the light.

Not enough exercise also contributes to lack of restful sleep.2,3 When you're doing vigorous physical work, your body needs to recover. Sleep allows your body to repair and rebuild, getting stronger in the process. Regardless of one's stresses and worries, vigorous exercise makes a physical demand on your body that will put you right to sleep. If you're not exercising regularly, this strong physiologic need for deep rest is missing, and you'll likely be tossing and turning the night away.  But don't exercise too late in the day, as that can make it challenging to fall asleep at a reasonable hour.  People who commit to exercising first thing in the morning also tend to be more consistent.   If you wait until the afternoon, you increase the odds that something will interfere with your workout.  It's best to start off the day with a quick workout that leaves you energized and feeling good.

Avoid drinking water or other liquids for a few hours before you go to bed to prevent having to get up during the night. 

Old, soft, lumpy mattresses are another potential sleep-disturber. But too-firm mattresses may also cause problems. A good mattress is supportive and comfortable - it "gives" in all the right places and provides a balanced, springy platform for a restful night's sleep.  Many people find memory foam or natural latex mattresses reduce tossing and turning and lead to a better night's sleep.  It may be more cost effective to just add a memory foam or natural latex overlay to your current mattress if it's in pretty good shape.  Look for a memory foam overlay that has a density of at least 4 lbs. or more per cubic foot.  (If you like a very soft bed, 3 lbs. per cubic foot density may be okay, but may not hold up as well.) 

Chiropractic care is another key ingredient for getting a good night's sleep. Gentle chiropractic treatment ensures that all your body's systems are communicating with each other and the right messages are getting through. Chiropractic treatment helps to optimize the function of your nervous system and the rest of your body.  It can also help to get rid of chronic aches and pains and therefore contribute to a much more comfortable and restful sleep. Your doctor at Millar Chiropractic will be glad to provide you with important information on customized exercise and nutrition programs that will help you continue to be healthy and well.

1Richardson GS: Human physiological models of insomnia. Sleep Med 8(Suppl 4):S9-S14, 2007
2Lee YC, et al: Lifestyle risk factors associated with fatigue in graduate students. J Formos Med Assoc 106(7):565-572, 2007
3Li F, et al: Tai chi and self-rated quality of sleep and daytime sleepiness in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. J Am Geriatr Soc 52(6):892-900, 2004

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Dr Greg Millar, DC CCEP
Dr Ken Randolph, DC ASBCE
Dr Dana Berthiaume, DC
Dr Justin Walbom, DC