By: Amanda Froelich,
When the alarm clock buzzes and the only instinct is to groan from a poor night’s rest, that’s an immediate sign to look into gaining more efficient sleep. With 47% of the population suffering from the inability to either fall asleep or stay asleep, this epidemic is an issue that effects not only the mood and well being of an individual, but according to recent findings, decreased brain function, lower immune system, and a decrease in vital nutrients, such as Magnesium and Zinc.
The fast-paced worker may wave their hand, dismissing the regurgitated suggestion to get more Z’s, but losing regeneration time at night can wreak havoc on one’s health. Luckily, the following 6 tips will help you overcome the negative cycle of broken sleep and energize your life with the ultimate ways to recharge and re-boot the body.
1. Get to the bottom of any factors interrupting your sleep
From stress, noise, irregular shift work, eating too close to bedtime, late cigarette smoking to depression, pain, breathing problems, recreational drugs, or even afternoon napping, there is always a reason as to why one has sleep problems. It might not be easy to say no to the habits which have shaped our culture, but to gain revitalizing sleep, it is essential to pinpoint which rituals affect you. The inability to sleep can be frustrating and exhausting, therefore seek to eliminate the cause which may create poor sleep patterns before reaching for sleep tablets, even natural ones.
2. Maintain even blood-sugar levels throughout the day
Foods that are high in refined sugar, poor quality animal protein and fat, and created with preservatives and chemicals were never meant to be consumed by the human body. In effect, the bad food combining of poor quality foods can create elevated blood sugar levels which have adverse effects. Too much sugar in the blood (from poor food sources) triggers the pancreas to release Insulin to escort excess glucose to cells, which then creates an ironic blood sugar catastrophe. While excess glucose goes to make energy or is stored as fat, low sugar in the blood (which would not happen if one consumed complex carbohydrates which release slowly) raises stress levels in the body. In effect, the adrenals release Cortisol, Adrenalin, and Noradernalin which stimulate the body to reach for another fast-releasing sugar source or glucose stores in the body. Understanding the body’s basic chemistry explains how excess Adrenalin (a hormone which can keep you awake) can become unbalanced, leading to other issues long-term within the body. Counteract the damage by reaching for slow-release carbohydrates (whole grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruit,), heartier lean proteins (fish, legumes, sprouted grains, leafy green vegetables), and healthy sources of well-utilized fats (avocados, coconuts, nuts, seeds, and fish). A natural, whole-foods diet will ensure your blood sugar levels stay stable.
3. Manage your stress levels
Increased levels of Cortisol from a diet high in stimulants, sugar and stress hinder the ability to get to sleep. Some effective ways to relieve stress from one’s life are to engage in exercise (go for a walk with the family), meditate, choose natural, whole-foods to feed yourself and family, leave work at work and be in the moment when at home, try out deep-breathing exercises, or even converse with a therapist or friend over fresh juice to share what’s on your mind. Keeping the intake of caffeinated beverages (coffees, some teas, soda) and alcohol low also helps to balance blood sugar and support the body’s natural hormone regulators. Because caffeine drinkers are found to produce half the amount of Melatonin (hormone that helps you sleep), refraining from excessive amounts or at least stopping the consumption after 2 PM will help you get better sleep.
4. Balance your minerals, supplementing with Magnesium
A lack of the minerals Calcium and Magnesium can trigger or exacerbate sleep difficulties because they both work together to calm the body and help relax nerves and muscles. Not shockingly, most individuals today are deficient in Magnesium due to a lot of stress or consuming too much sugar. Including some Magnesium in the evening, possibly even by supplement can help; Foods that are high in Magnesium and can help your body naturally re-balance include seeds, nuts, green vegetables, whole grains, and seafood. Also, ensuring an adequate B vitamins intake helps support the body in many ways, including its ability to deal with stress. You may choose to include a B Vitamin Complex, however, take earlier in the day as its energy-boosting properties can keep some awake.
5. Balance your Sleep Neutotransmitters – Seratonin and Melatonin
During the daytime, Adrenalin levels are higher and keep you stimulated. As you start to wind down from a busy day, Serotonin levels rise and Adrenalin falls. When it gets darker, Melatonin then kicks in. Many people are serotonin deficient, meaning that melatonin can’t be produced, and therefore it can be difficult to sleep and stay asleep. Because Melatonin and Serotonin are similarly made (both from the amino acid Tryptophan), they both can be affected by diet; sources of Tryptophan include: tuna, tofu, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Like all processes of the body, neurotransmitters rely on a fine balance to remain healthy; therefore it’s important to keep focus on keeping a predominantly plant-based, unprocessed diet.
6. If necessary, use a natural sleep aid
It’s best to refrain from using a natural sleep aid unless necessary; although herbal remedies are not addictive and rarely have side effects like popular pharmaceutical medications (with side effects such as: daytime drowsiness, memory problems, confusion, depression, dry mouth, and sluggishness), a healthy diet can have rapid, beneficial effect on creating better sleep. However, the best herbs to help restore a deep night’s rest are: Valerian Root, Passionflower, Kava, St. John’s Wort, and Hops. Always consult with a Naturopathic physician or educated wellness expert on what dose best fits you. Using nature’s remedies for a short period of time can definitely help alleviate the issue of rarely being able to fall or stay asleep.
With all things in life, there is a balance. Seek to eliminate the causes that may be contributing to a poor night’s rest, opt out of stimulants, refined sugars, processed foods, and poor quality animal proteins, engage in stress reducing activities, mentally remove the stressors which keep you awake, and physiologically look to balancing with Magnesium and supporting your body’s ability to produce the important neurotransmitters for sleep. With the above 6 suggestions, you’ll be grinning into the sunlight as soon as that buzzer goes off, refresh, rejuvenated, and ready for an amazing day.
Source: Patrick Holford:Optimum Nutrition for the Mind