Dr Marine answers your questions on sleep
How do you define ‘good sleep’?
A “good quality of sleep” is defined by a few criteria:
- falling asleep soon after getting into bed, within 30 minutes or less.
Sleep deprivation is a serious matter and a growing issue within our modern lives and even more with the recent Covid situation. There are many consequences and can lead to physical effects (sleepiness, hypertension, reduced immune system functions), cognitive impairment (lack of performance, poor attention and motivation) and mental health issues (depression).
The good news is that sleep has been very well studied and understood and there is a lot of options available.
And how do you make good sleep happen?
There is no magic there and we are not all equal with sleep pattern.
I believe that good sleep starts with good lifestyle.
A balanced diet, regular exercise, relaxation, not going too late to bed, etc .. are the basic elements for a good quality of sleep.
There is also a lot of natural help which have been well documented such has plants, magnesium and sophrology techniques.
What can you do if stress affects your sleep?
Stress is proven to affect sleep and sleep deprivation is also proven to be linked with increase of stress so it very important to stop this vicious circle.
This year have seen a massive increase of sleep disturbances caused by stress related to the Covid situation and I have been solicited much more than usual for this issue.
For sleep issues caused by recent stress, I recommend a combination of things:
What are the advantages/ inconvenient about sleeping pills?
What is called “sleeping pills” is generally the medicines category called “hypnotic” as they induce sleep.
They can be a great help for people who are sleep deprived and have tried a lot of others options.
They are always prescribed by a doctor for a short period of time as they can cause addiction and they are not inducing a good quality sleep.
Thankfully they are not the only option and they have to be reserved to specific cases.
As a Dr in pharmacie, what would you recommend for sleeping issues?
First, I ask a few questions to understand where the problem. Is the issue falling asleep, is it interrupted sleep, is it a recent issue, did you travel recently, or are you under a lot of stress, what is your age?
Indeed, every sleep issue is different and should be addressed individually.
For instance, if the sleep disturbance is caused by recent changes in your life (in the case of a new job, moving, etc), I would recommend scientifically proven herbal remedies such as Valerian or Passiflora combined with magnesium.
But if the problem is more related with falling asleep, I would probably suggest some over the counter sleep aids.
It is also important to remember that medication is not always the answer and it is important to change some habits such as no screens one hour before going to bed, practice regular exercise and meditation for example.
And what do you personally do for a good night sleep?
I am lucky to be a good sleeper. However, like everyone I have periods of stress and I did experiment with a few things that work for me.
A warm bath with magnesium flakes and lavender essential oils is always of a good help for releasing tensions.
Another technique I use if I wake up in the middle of the night with too many thoughts running in circles is body scan visualisation and deep breaths.
Also I never miss reading at least few pages in my bed, I usually fall asleep very shortly after!