Sleep Hygeine: How to Get Your Best Cat Nap

Oxygen, food, water, and sleep: these are 4 basic life sustainers. For some, sleep can be difficult to achieve; especially restful sleep that lasts the recommended 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted, blissful slumber. Many people struggle with getting to sleep and staying asleep through the night. In fact, sleep disorders affect about ¼ of the population at some point in our lives1.

We can technically survive on relatively little sleep, but this will quickly lead to other consequences in our health and daily living. Sleep deprivation has been linked to more serious conditions such as an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Sleep can aid in the prevention of these diseases, and is also vital for promoting tissue healing, growth and development. This is especially true for children and adolescents2.

Sleep can be even more difficult when we are in pain or stressed, however it is vital in allowing our bodies to repair damaged tissue. It also helps keep our immune system in top shape. Sleep promotes tissue healing, but it can also help in the resolution of pain. Research has shown that patients with low back pain had more difficulty returning to normal activity if they were not getting adequate rest. We also see a similar pattern in patients with IBS or fibromyalgia in terms of pain management. The relationship between sleep and pain is cyclical, especially when you are struggling with a chronic condition. When we don’t get enough rest, our body is slower to heal which can cause more pain. In turn, that pain can be a reason we are not getting enough sleep in the first place.     

If you are struggling to get a good night’s rest, you may want to seek out the help of your doctor. They will be able to rule out any serious sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Once these disorders are ruled out, there are some basic tips to consider before trying serious sleep medications such as Ambien.

What changes can we make to our behavior that may help with improving sleep? Learning better ways to sleep is similar to the process to riding a bicycle: an action we take that can be improved through consistent practice and through modifying our technique. Treatments for increasing our chances of sleeping throughout the night include: 

Gentle exercise and mindfulness 3,4 5, 6

Supplements and herbs 7

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)8,9

Sleep Hygiene:


    These methods are intended to give you power in tackling your struggles with getting and staying asleep. It is important to consult your healthcare provider in order to form an appropriate plan of action that is tailored to your health needs. Naturopathic medicine can help you access and treat the root of the problem, as its approach is holistic in its application.






  1. One in four Americans develop insomnia each year: 75 percent of those with insomnia recover -- ScienceDaily. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2020, from
  2. Study links irregular sleep patterns to metabolic disorders | National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2020, from


3.Carlson, L. E., & Garland, S. N. (2005). Impact of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on sleep, mood, stress and fatigue symptoms in cancer outpatients. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 12(4), 278–285.


  1. Black, D. S., O’Reilly, G. A., Olmstead, R., Breen, E. C., & Irwin, M. R. (2015). Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbance: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(4), 494–501.


  1. Caldwell, K., Harrison, M., Adams, M., Quin, R. H., & Greeson, J. (2010). Developing mindfulness in college students through movement-based courses: Effects on self-regulatory self-efficacy, mood, stress, and sleep quality. Journal of American College Health, 58(5), 433–442.

6.Passos, G. S., Poyares, D. L. R., Santana, M. G., Tufik, S., & de Mello, M. T. (2012). Is exercise an alternative treatment for chronic insomnia? Clinics.

  1. Keshavarz Afshar M, Behboodi Moghadam Z, Taghizadeh Z, Bekhradi R, Montazeri A, Mokhtari P. Lavender fragrance essential oil and the quality of sleep in postpartum women. Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2015;17(4):e25880. Published 2015 Apr 25. doi:10.5812/ircmj.17(4)2015.25880
  2. Savard, J., Simard, S., Ivers, H., & Morin, C. M. (2005). Randomized study on  the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia secondary to breast cancer, part I: Sleep and psychological effects. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 23(25), 6083–6096.


  1. Taylor, D. J., & Pruiksma, K. E. (2014). Cognitive and behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) in psychiatric populations: A systematic review. International Review of Psychiatry I, 26(2), 205–213.
Dr. David Chang ND, LAc David Chang, ND, LAc, is a board-licensed naturopathic physician and acupuncturist with extensive training in Naturopathic primary care and classical Chinese medicine. With more than six years of professional experience and a strong interest in chronic pain management, he is proud to own and operate his practice in Portland, Oregon.

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