10 TIPS FOR GETTING YOUR SLEEP INSTEAD OF COUNTING SHEEP
By Naturopathic Dr. Joël www.revivelife.ca
Sleep is an integral part of hormone balance, optimal weight, memory, longevity and ultimately health. Some of us get a good 8 hours of sleep while others squeek by on 4-5 hours. We all need a good night of zzz’s and eventually it does get caught ups with us if we fall short of sleep. Here are a few tips that can help you out.
1. PRE-SLEEP PHASE / WIND DOWN
What’s ” The Pre-Sleep Phase”? This is the phase that gets you ready for sleep. Sleep is a process with the initial phase of us needing time to relax to allow the hormones cortisol to reduce and the sleep hormones melatonin and growth hormone to increase. If you are a person that naturally runs on adrenaline, you may require up to 2 hours to wind down. So turn off the computers, TVs and stop washing dishes shifting into the “ Pre-Sleep Phase” which many people forget to do . Relax with a good calming book, play some relaxing music or take a warm bath to help your body along.
When we go to sleep we are going into a mini-hibernation. Ward off waking due to low blood sugar by having a light snack two hours before bed. Some researchers feel that digestive hormones have a sedating effect, while others feel that the brain chemical tryptophan being converted into serotonin is involved in promoting sleep. You can also increase foods with vitamin B6 that is needed in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin. Great options include nut butter and or your favorite fiber rich cracker. Note that alcohol that you may think helps you sleep actually causes a lighter sleep and reduces REM sleep, which decreases dreaming. So go easy on the “ night caps “ before bed.
Regular exercise is good for hormonal balance, mood, energy and a lot more. Try exercising in the late afternoon or early evening. Vigorous exercise rises our body temperatures which is compensated for by a temperature drop four to six hours later. By planning to exercise four to six hours before sleep your body temperature will be lower which promotes sleep. Working with hormones and your circadian rhythm will help you catch a lot more zzz’s!
Electronics all carry electromagnetic radiation which may interfere with your hormones, circadian rhythm and sleep. You can get rid of your bedroom clock and reduce the time pressure and the radiation exposure all at once. Keep TV, Computer & Cell Phone time to another room and ensure that your wireless server is turned off at night ( automatic timers work well). You can also use devices like the xzubi to reduce wireless device radiation on your cell phone .
5. DARK & QUIET
Ensure all your lights are turned off and invest in black out blinds or curtains. Light stimulates hormones which in turn reduce melatonin which is needed for sleep. When you travel try a mask to cover your eyes and ear plugs if you are sensitive to noise ( especially if your partner is a snorer)
Consider getting your hormones tested. Imbalances in many hormones including your thyroid hormones , adrenal gland hormones including: estrogen, progesterone and cortisol can throw you off. It is not uncommon for sleep interruptions to fluctuate with a woman’s hormonal cycle.
7. IF YOU ARE AWAKE MOVE OUT OF BED
Getting restless in your bed only creates frustration. Try moving locations and getting a night light for reading. Before you know it you’ll get drowsy again, ready for sleep.
It’s amazing how many people are having sleep problems yet consume a considerable amount of caffeine or nicotine daily , which initially keeps you awake in the morning , through the day and often into the night. Switch to other great energy options which will benefit your sleep. B vitamins taken in the morning can help build your hormones needed for sleep.
Our bodies and hormones like rhythm, so set your bedtime and wake-up times at the same time daily. Did you know that according to age our circadian rhythms are not exactly 24 hours? Teenagers have rhythms that are longer than 24 hours which causes them to be “ night owls” and want to sleep in later . Teens can be trained to shift this slightly by waking up just slightly before they have had enough sleep. Over time the reduced sleep will help teens fall asleep earlier. Elderly people conversely have circadian rhythms that are shorter than 24 hours . What does that mean? Well falling asleep earlier and waking earlier too! To shift this elderly people can be trained to stay awake a little longer each night which will give the desired effect to wake as the sun rises. I have even trained myself to go to bed at 10pm and to get up at 530 am to exercise!
This can work either way. If your adrenal glands are very tired and your body’s core energy is low, then light napping can work wonders. Try a 20 minute catnap or if you can’t sleep simply relax with music for the same amount of time. This reduces the surge of cortisol that often accompanies those who are very fatigued, as this is the body’s way of trying to stay awake. Careful not to sleep too much or you won’t be tired at night… It’s all about balance right!?
- Sleep Timing & Sleep Checklist
- Sleep We All Need It But What If You Can’t Get It? 5 Stages of Sleep
- Top 10 Dreams What Do They Really Mean?
- 5 Foods To Promote Sleep
- Dr. Joël’s Sleepy Time Smoothie Bowl
- Sleep: Newsletter & Video
- Sleep: Food For a Good Night Sleep-Video
Dr. Joël, ND, Inspiring Health Naturally
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