Managing your sleep and/or recovering from sleep deprivation can be frustrating if you can’t find the reason it’s an issue for you. According to Sleep Association.org, 50 – 70 million adults have a sleep disorder The goal is to have healthy restorative sleep, which looks like 7 – 9 hours of uninterrupted slumber AND waking easily and feeling restored in the morning.
If you have not established healthy sleep patterns, the result can be detrimental to your overall health. Sleep issues can lead to decreased immunity and increased susceptibility to illness, decreased energy and productivity, weight gain, diminished mood, and lack of focus.
What Is Causing Your Sleep Disruption?
We see a lot of sleep issues in our natural healthcare practice.
Acute or short-term insomnia lasts for a few days or weeks. This often results from traumatic events or pressure from family and work situations. There is no “known cause” for longer-term insomnia, though some conditions that could contribute to insomnia over time are hormone or blood sugar imbalance, or disruption of circadian rhythm such as shift work or time zone travel. We do produce less melatonin as we age, so that could also be a factor.
Our nervous systems are in a state of sympathetic dominance such that being wired and tired is the effect we’re experiencing. This makes it difficult to easily transition into a comfortable and relaxed state for sleep. We also find some medications such as decongestants, bronchodilators, and beta-blockers are associated with sleep disruptions as they have a stimulatory effect.
Occasional sleeplessness: You could try a sublingual melatonin such as Energetix Melatonin. They recommend 5 sprays under the tongue 30 minutes before bed. We have found that if you wake in the night, another spray or two can be helpful. Magnesium or calcium before bed supports people who are deficient in minerals. Look for magnesium glycinate (400 – 600mg). Vitamin D intake is also supportive of healthful sleep, so either supplement or be sure to get daily exposure to late afternoon sun. My favorite Vitamin D supplement is D3-K2 by Energetix.
Busy brain: If you can’t shut your brain off at night and you feel like a hamster on a wheel, mineral support such as Min-Tran, Min-Chex, Orchex, or E-Z Mg (all from Standard Process) may be a nice addition to your program. You could also play with increasing magnesium in general, increasing your protein throughout the day, or try 5-HTP.
Hot flashes and night sweats: You might find these to be hormone-related. We have found Wild Yam Complex (Standard Process MediHerb) to be helpful here. Also be sure your practitioner is checking and supporting your endocrine glands and cardiovascular system.
Waking to use the bathroom: Understanding why you’re waking to pee is helpful and can shift daily habits to provide for more restful sleep. Maintain a steady water intake throughout the day so you can slow it down almost entirely before bed to help avoid waking to use the bathroom. Avoiding natural diuretics like soda and coffee is a good move. Some are so sensitive that even drinking these in the morning could be problematic. Blood pressure meds can contain diuretics, which will cause you to wake to use the bathroom.
Inflammation: Reduce inflammation in your body by removing sugar and gluten. Gluten sensitivity often shows up in disrupted sleep patterns. It inhibits your ability to produce serotonin, which will affect your sleep cycle. We can use Nutrition Response Testing to determine if there are more foods that are a concern for you. Note that for some people, the sugars in alcohol contribute to poor sleep habits.
How to Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep
Manage Your Blood Sugar
If your blood sugar crashes in the night, that could be enough to wake you a couple hours after you fall asleep. Try a snack of fat and carbohydrate before bed to keep it stable while you sleep. This might look like an apple with almond butter or yogurt with berries. Balanced blood sugar throughout the day is important as well. High blood sugar often looks like insomnia, where low blood sugar may be more closely correlated with night sweats.
Maintaining small frequent meals throughout the day (consumed every 3 hours) including a combination of healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates will help to create that blood sugar balance you’re looking for. Begin this pattern within 30 – 60 minutes of waking in the morning.
Consuming the right food at the right time can bring about healthier, more restorative sleep. Nutrition coaching can be beneficial in both educating you on topics important to healthy sleep and for accountability with your health goals.
Establish a Rhythm
Work toward having a balanced circadian rhythm by setting a daily sleep schedule where you go to bed and wake up at the same time daily. Aim for 7 – 8 hours per night.
Exercise and Movement
Being active during the day helps prime your body and mind for deeper, more restful sleep. This is an important element to add in if it’s missing from your routine.
Avoid Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)
Avoid Wi-Fi at night by turning off your router. Place your phone on airplane mode, and don’t keep it next to your head on the nightstand.
During the day, do what you can to keep electronic devices off your body. Don’t put your laptop or iPad directly on your lap. Placing them on your lap will transfer radiation and EMFs to your body. Don’t keep your phone in your pocket all day, and avoid using bluetooth headphones.
To counter the effects of EMFs, you could try our PEMF mat (Pulsed Electromagnetic Therapy Mat), or purchase your own. This is helpful for cell and nerve regeneration, and many of our clients who use it note improved sleep.
Manage Your Stress
Stress management is such an issue right now for many. We are going through a lot of these supplements to support a more calming state within the nervous system:
- Relax-Tone, Relief-Tone, Fields of Flowers, Calm Five (Energetix)
- Orchex, Min-Chex, Min-Tran, EZ-Mg (Standard Process)
- Ashwaghanda (Standard Process MediHerb)
- N-Nerve, CALM (Systemic Formulas)
Establishing a winding down routine before bed. Enjoy an epsom salt bath, some stretching, or a walk. If that isn’t your thing, then you could try some reading or journaling. It’s best to avoid any screen time for up to two hours before bed.
We offer PSYCH-K® in our office as a way to work with your mindset to bring about a more relaxed state of being. Other helpful modalities may include: yoga, meditation, Reiki/energy work, talk therapy (counseling), Emotional Freedom Technique, or BrainTap.
There are also many great apps available to support stress management, meditation, and sleep.
Get started now with Nutrition Response Testing and/or nutrition coaching to create more peaceful and restorative sleep.