Modern living has become a threat to the most basic human biological need: SLEEP. We sleep at least a third of our lives so shouldn’t we all be professional sleepers by now? Why are we so bad it? And the older we get the worse it gets. A lot of this boils down to stress, hormone imbalance, diet and lifestyle.
Poor sleep causes us to produce less leptin, a hormone that signals that we’re full and satiated, and increases the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. This leads to food cravings during the day as your body searches for quick fuel to keep going. We often crave sugar and simple carbs to get a quick burst of energy, which can lead to blood sugar highs and lows that leave us sleepy and craving carbs and sugar again. It’s a cycle that can leave us with fatigue, weight gain, and mood imbalance.
But, let’s also look at one of the root causes of insomnia. Why did you have poor sleep to begin with? The usual culprit is high cortisol at night. Healthy circadian rhythm produces higher cortisol in the morning which naturally drops into the evening. Daily stress, over working, fasting, low carb diets, medications and caffeine overload can contribute to the dysregulation of our adrenals and cortisol production. The good news is we can get back into hormonal balance with some lifestyle changes.
Here are a few things to help you get back into the swing of things and get that good quality sleep.
-Get early morning sunlight exposure. Go for a 30 minute walk in the AM and skip the sunglasses. You want that morning light in your eyes to set your circadian rhythm.
-Stay physically active during the day.
-Eat 3-4 hours before bed and include some healthy, complex carbs. Going to bed hungry will affect quality of sleep as will going to bed on a full stomach.
-This is a hard one, but avoid screens a couple hours before bedtime. If you do like to scroll or watch tv then wear blue blocking glasses or shift your screen to night mode. Avoid triggering shows, news and social media.
-Unplug all electronics in the bedroom and use black out curtains.
-Don’t leave your cellphone next to the bed, even in airplane mode. Cellphones emit a small amount of radiation even in airplane mode, so your best bet is to keep it in the other room or a few feet away if using it as an alarm.
-Cut out caffeine by early afternoon at the latest.
-Avoid alcohol at night. Despite the feelings of relaxation, alcohol actually disrupts sleep.
-Shift out of the stressed “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous mode into a relaxed parasympathetic state with meditation, deep breathing, sauna, yoga, epsom or lavender bath, or sip herbal teas like holy basil and chamomile. We especially love Lucid Dreaming Tea from Anima Mundi herbals.
-Our favorite night time supplements for sleep are CBD and Magnesium. CBD is an adaptogen that can help you go from fight or flight to calm. A 25mg serving is a great start before bedtime. Studies have shown great benefits with anxiety and insomnia. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/ and https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24281562/
-Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps the mind and body relax while also helping to regulate melatonin secretion. Magnesium glycinate is easily absorbable and bioavailable making it a popular form of magnesium for sleep issues.
-L-theonine can help enhance alpha brain waves and neurotransmitters to help you get a relaxing and restful sleep. Found in abundance in tea leaves, try a decaf green tea in the evening or try it in supplemental form.
-3 mg of melatonin in the evening as you begin to wind down for the night can be helpful as well. With changes to diet and the supplements mentioned above,
you should get to the point where you are sleeping without melatonin.
Hopefully by incorporating a few of these tips you’ll be able to get your essential 7-8 hours of sleep per night.