Behind the restlessness
A key and common symptom associated with Sympathetic Dominance is poor sleep. As sleep is important for the body to recuperate, this issue can be a tiring one. A multitude of health issues can result from lack of sleep including high blood pressure, out of whack cortisol levels, and troubles with concentration due to fatigue. As it ties to Sympathetic Dominance, poor sleep is a result of a wound-up brain that is struggling to calm down and fall asleep. There are too many stimulants and external stressors that constantly put the brain in the sympathetic (fight or flight) state even when it’s time to switch to the parasympathetic (rest and digest) state and sleep.
Sleep Better, Sleep More
One way to get better sleep includes setting up a sleep routine so the body can get into a natural routine when it’s time to sleep.
Some ways to do this include:
- Get a good pillow and mattress (if it’s been 8+ years since purchasing a new mattress, it’s time to do so!)
- Don’t bring work into the bedroom (move TV and computers to another room)
- Go to sleep at the same time every day
- Wake up at the same time every day (you will eventually get into a natural sleep/wake cycle and won’t need an alarm clock to wake up)
- Don’t take caffeine or drug stimulants before sleeping, ideally not after 3PM in the afternoon
Breathe and Relax
Another way to get better sleep includes finding ways that help the body to calm down the “busy brain” so it can switch to the parasympathetic state.
Practice mediation and mindfulness
This is one of the most effective ways to get better sleep! It all starts with calming down the body and brain, in order for both to relax and sleep. Simple ways to do this include:
- Light stretching
- Having a cup of caffeine-free tea while relaxing
- Listening to meditative music
- Breathing exercises
Block out light and sound
Sometimes one may experience sensitivity to light and sound as a result of sympathetic dominance making it harder to sleep. There are several ways to cope with this in order to reduce the irritability and make it easier to sleep. Some of these ways include:
- Have thick curtains that block out outside light
- Use an eye mask to block out light
- Putting on ear plugs
- Running a fan for white noise
Good quality magnesium supplement
Another option to get better sleep includes taking a magnesium supplement. This necessary element helps the body and brain relax in order to switch to the parasympathetic state and rest. Magnesium also assists the body in monitoring melatonin, which impacts the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
It’s important to remember that there isn’t a single formula to get better sleep and it varies. The important thing is that an investment made on better sleep, especially if there is Sympathetic Dominance, is a worthwhile investment on overall health.