Restful sleep is part of the equation for good health, vitality, longevity and fat loss. Lack of sleep interferes with your ability to secrete and regulate hormones, specifically DHEA, testosterone and growth hormone, which in turn accelerates aging, increases appetite, adds inches to your waistline, and increases your risk of insulin resistance and developing diabetes. Lack of sleep promotes an environment prime for inflammation, increased insulin and cortisol, belly fat and catabolism. In fact, just one week of short sleep (5 hours) creates a 10-15% drop in testosterone.
According to Canadian sleep expert, Stanley Coren, you lose one IQ point for every hour of lost sleep you didn't get the night before. Cognitive and mood problems develop, along with an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease are consequences of too little sleep. According to research, one of the first signs of Alzheimer's disease is sleep disruptions.
Healing of the mind, body and spirit occur during deep sleep. Energy is restored and replenished. Brain waves normally shift to a lower vibrational frequency as we shift from the initial stages of sleep to the deeper stages, such as the rapid eye movement stage (REM).
Symptoms of forgetfulness, headaches, lack of focus, itching, moodiness, cravings, headaches, and neck and backaches often disappear with a good night’s sleep.
If you can fall asleep, but are unable to stay asleep, rule out adrenal hypofunction and / or reactive hypoglycemia.
If you are unable to fall asleep, the problem is usually a need for alkaline minerals and a need to balance the CNS (sympathetic-parasympathetic).
- Create an environment for restful sleep as evening approaches. Reduce exposure to blue light (suppresses normal melatonin production), use candles, and dim the lights in your home an hour or so before bedtime.
- Sleep in complete darkness. Make your bedroom pitch black. If there is even the tiniest bit of light in the room it can disrupt your circadian rhythm and your pineal gland's production of melatonin and serotonin. Minimize light in the bathroom too, in case you get up in the middle of the night. Keep the lights off if you go to the bathroom at night. As soon as you turn on that light you immediately stop production of the important sleep aid, melatonin.
- Avoid the computer and television at least 2 hours before bedtime. Working, using the computer, cell phones and texting within 2 hours of bedtime delay sleep and increase awakenings. Keep the television and your laptop out of the bedroom. If you are used to watching TV or doing work on your laptop in bed, it’ll be harder for you to relax and get restful sleep.
- Install F.lux on your Computer F.lux is a free program that, when enabled on your computer, reduces blue light emissions by adjusting your computer's color temperature according to the location and time of day.
- Hypoglycemia and blood sugar imbalances. Eat a high-protein snack before bed or consume an easily digestible whey protein shake. This provides your body with L-tryptophan needed to produce melatonin and serotonin as well as blood sugar stabilization. Avoid grains, carbs and sugars that raise blood sugar and inhibit growth hormone release.
- Go to bed earlier. Trouble losing body fat, despite the fact that you’re eating clean and exercising? Don’t underestimate the power of sleep. Our systems, particularly the adrenals, do a majority of their recharging or recovering during the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. Not only are these the hours that up to 80% of growth hormone is secreted, 11 p.m. – 1 a.m. is when your gallbladder meridian is most active and dumps toxins. If you are awake, the toxins back up into the liver which then secondarily back up into your entire system and cause further disruption of your health. Waking up between the hours of 1:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m., may indicate liver toxicity/congestion. Consistently waking between 3:00 a.m. – 5:00 a.m., indicates oxidative stress.
- Magnesium deficiency is common in 90% of the population. The #1 supplement I like for restful sleep is magnesium, “Natures natural muscle relaxer” 300-600mg 30-60 minutes before bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol. Although alcohol might make you drowsy, the effect is short lived and you’ll often wake up several hours later, unable to fall back asleep. Alcohol keeps you from falling into the deeper stages of sleep, plus it disrupts and inhibits growth hormone production.
- Avoid caffeine later in the day. A recent study showed that in some people, caffeine is not metabolized efficiently and they feel the effects long after consuming it. Various drugs, OTCs and diet pills contain caffeine.
- Loud alarm clocks can be very stressful on your body. If an electric alarm clock must be used, keep it as far away from the bed as possible, preferably at least 5’ because of electro-magnetic fields (EMFs). These include electrical alarm clocks, electric blankets, plugging in your cell phone, etc. EMF exposure disrupts the pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin and come with a host of other negative effects. If you must use a clock, cover it and remove it from view. It will only add to your worry when constantly starring at it... 2 AM...3 AM... 4:30 AM...
- Exercise regularly. Exercising for at least 30 minutes EVERYDAY helps you fall asleep. However, exercising too close to bedtime may keep you awake.
- Get a handle on your stress. According to sleep experts, stress is the #1 cause of sleep problems.
- Read something spiritual. This will help you relax. Refrain from reading anything stimulating, such as a mystery or suspense novel - this may have the opposite effect.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends. This will help your body to get into a sleep rhythm making it easier to fall asleep and get up in the morning. Erratic schedules disrupt your body clock.
- Hydrate during the day. If you’re dehydrated, your body production of cortisol increases and melatonin and growth hormone decrease, which will disrupt sleep. Minimize fluid intake within 2 hours of going to bed. This will reduce the likelihood of needing to get up and go to the bathroom or at least minimize the frequency. If you do need to get up for the bathroom, refrain from turning on lights.
- Journaling and Gratitude Log. Before bed, log 3-5 things you’re grateful for in your journal.
- Keep bedroom temperature no higher than 70 degrees F. Many people keep their homes, and particularly the upstairs bedrooms too hot.
- Aromatherapy Sprinkle a few drops of lavender oil or sandalwood oil on your pillow.
- Meditate for just 2-5 minutes can induce restful sleep. Practice deep, belly breathing and yoga postures such as forward folding and legs up the wall.
- White Noise, Guided Mediation or Relaxation CDs. Some people find the sound of white noise or nature sounds, such as the ocean soothing for sleep.
- Lose weight. Being overweight increases the risk of sleep apnea, which will prevent a restful nights’ sleep.
- Many meds, prescription and OTCs Drugs, affect sleep negatively. Clinical pearl – addiction to sleeping aids is often an indication of depression.
- Take a hot bath, shower or sauna before bed. Add some Epsom salts to the bath (the magnesium is absorbed through your skin). This promotes muscular relaxation. Add a few drops of essential aromatic oils, such as lavender or sandalwood, which will induce a state of calm, enhancing sleep.
- Wear socks to bed. Your feet have the poorest circulation in the body and will usually feel cold before the rest of the body. A study has shown that wearing socks to bed may reduce waking up throughout the night.
- Consider melatonin and its precursors, L-tryptophan or 5-HTP. If behavioral changes don't work, melatonin may help you. However, melatonin is a powerful hormone, and comes with other redeeming benefits aside from promoting restful sleep. In a study to be published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, when melatonin is taken before exercise, it's linked to reduced oxidative damage, improved immune defenses, and increased fat burning.
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