Sleep Hygiene and Ear Seeds
Many of us are aware that stress and sleep are closely linked, with the lack of proper rest becoming an increasing problem in the country. According to the Sleep Foundation, nearly one-third of adult Americans get an inadequate amount of sleep, and there are even estimates from the CDC that say nearly 70 million Americans suffer from poor sleep.
Even so, getting good sleep is important for our health. For adults, it is best to get around 7-8 hours of sleep to keep up with our day to day activities. While there are many things that can keep us awake at night such as insomnia, anxiety, and stress, there are also several things you can do to promote good sleep. Practicing correct sleep hygiene will ultimately help you get better sleep.
What is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is defined as behaviors that a person can do to help promote good sleep using behavioral interventions such as:
Maintaining a Regular Sleep Routine
This may sound simple enough but is actually hard to do for some people. It involves going to sleep at the same time and waking up at the same time every day (give or take 20 minutes).
Avoid Naps if Possible
Naps take away the time that we could be using for sleep at night, which is very important for easy sleep onset. Every individual needs a certain amount of sleep during a 24-hour period — usually between 7-9 hours — no more, no less. Taking a nap decreases the amount of sleep that we need the next night, which may cause sleep fragmentation and difficulties when initiating sleep. Further down the track, this may lead to sleep deprivation and insomnia.
Don’t Stay in Bed Awake for More Than 5-10 Minutes.
If you're wide awake and find that your mind is racing, or worrying about a number of things, get out of bed and sit in a chair. Without using your phone or TV, do your thinking on the chair until you're sleepy, without any distractions or anything to stimulate you. If this happens several times during the night, it's OK. Just maintain your regular wake time and avoid taking naps.
Don’t Watch TV or Read in Bed.
Whenever you read or watch TV in bed, you associate the bed with wakefulness. Sleep should only be reserved for two things — sleep and some "hanky panky."
Drink Caffeinated Drinks With Caution
The effects of caffeine may last for several hours after digestion. Caffeine can fragment our sleep, causing difficulties in sleep. If you have to drink caffeine, do it only before noon — also remember that tea and soda container caffeine as well.
Avoid Disruptive Substances
Over-the-counter medication, alcohol, and cigarettes can also cause fragmented sleep.
Regular exercise can help support healthy sleep, but make sure to not exercise too close to bed as it can have the opposite effect! Avoid any rigorous exercise before bedtime, instead, exercise before 2 pm every day. Exercise circulates endorphins into the body which may cause difficulty initiating sleep, so it is best done in the mornings.
Have a Quiet, Comfortable Bedroom
Turn off the TV and other extraneous noise that may disrupt sleep. Set your bedroom thermostat at a comfortable temperature — generally, a little cooler is better than a little warmer. If your pets awaken you, it's best if you keep them outside the bedroom. Most importantly, your bedroom should be dark, so turn off all the bright lights.
Have a Comfortable Pre-Bedtime Routine
- A warm bath, shower
- Meditation, or quiet time
- Some find ASMR helpful
How Can Ear Seeds Support Sleep?
Auriculotherapy can be performed by a licensed acupuncturist with acupuncture needles, but you can also use ear seeds safely as a part of your bedtime ritual and self-care routine at home. Ear seeds are small round metal pellets that are strategically placed over specific acupressure points, which are then secured on the surface of the ear with a piece of adhesive material. By applying mild pressure on each point, the massaging effect is amplified and stimulates the pressure point. Ear seeds can be used to help support deep sleep and reduce tension.
How Do You Use Ear Seeds?
If you wish to use ear seeds within the comfort of your home, you can easily get started with an at-home kit. Most ear seed kits come with an acupuncture point chart that will provide you with diagrams of all the various points and what they correlate with. Be sure to use tweezers to correctly place the seeds and never put them in your ear canal. Ear seeds are only designed for the outside of the ears. Most of the seeds should also fall off by themselves in about five days, but if they haven't, you can remove the seeds yourself. To do this safely, tilt your ear to the ground and remove them.