This time of year we are getting deeper and deeper into working overtime to achieve goals and are sometimes kept up at night because of new ideas or simply stress from it all. Being creative or working hard is not necessarily a bad thing, but when do we make time to shut down, when is it time for you to sleep?
Sleep hygiene, as I like to call it, is one of the top 3 have-to’s on all of my protocols. If we don’t get adequate amounts of sleep, say goodbye to everything else. When the body is lacking in proper rest it affects every major system in the body. What we don’t know or tend to forget, is that sleep is the time the body recovers and rejuvenates. If we don’t sleep, we never fully recover. Less than 7 hours of sleep has been proven to affect the brain in such a way that we actually get dumber. It is all a matter of neuroplasticity, first our memory goes, then attention, then dexterity, we start to function at a lesser percentage than a full nights rest. So why is that?
Simple biology. The human body has evolved in a systematic way that requires structure. Like any machine it needs repair and constant care. If we don’t shut the machine down, it cannot reboot, it will start to malfunction.
Lack of sleep can quite literally be a contributing factor in disease and most importantly death. Americans are so obsessed with time. My husband for example doesn’t think there is enough time in the day to be productive and sees sleep as an unnecessary necessity. After almost six years of me nagging him to do better in the sleep department he has never slept better and never been less stressed. It also helps that his companion in life is naturally knocked out at 9pm every night.
I was always lucky that way that sleep was my highest priority and that’s why I always have so much energy to do everything, I take care of my machine!
You have heard me talk about cortisol on more than one occasion, so you know how much damage it can do to the body when in excess. When the body is in a constant state of stress from lack of sleep cortisol will surge through the body. The more cortisol the worse it gets because the perpetuation will make your sleep worse and create a vicious cycle. Not to mention, the cravings that come from the lack of sleep. When the body is exhausted and needs energy, you will crave the quickest form, sugar. If you have an insatiable appetite for carbs and sweets and also sleep terribly, now you know why.
Enough about that let’s get into how to help you sleep better.
Blood Sugar regulation
If we are eating cleaner and our blood sugar is stabilized our cortisol will decrease and helps us get into that wonderful slumber.
We don’t need to be out running marathons, but we do need to get at least 30 min of movement a day. If we sit all day long the body builds up toxin in the muscle, this can inhibit the body from producing oxygen in the blood and make the system stagnant. Movement strengthens the immune and nervous systems.
Step # 3
Relaxation and mindfulness are at the top of the list for self-care. If we don’t make time to relax and reflect, we will be one constant ball of stress. Ain’t no body got time for that! There is honestly nothing worse than being around a person that is ready to snap at every little thing and complains about how “busy” they are. When you are dead, none of that crap will be worth it. And you may very well be without that person, if you don’t pay more attention to your behavior. So draw a bath full of Epsom salts, get a massage, eat your meals in peace (NOT AT YOUR DESK!), sauna, have more sex, make time for friends, get off your phone, turn off the TV and for god’s sake go on a vacation!
Step # 4
Every day we are inundated with oxidative stress and foods that lack nutrient density. The unfortunate truth about most of the vegetables we eat is that they lack the appropriate amount of minerals needed to make your nervous system healthy and optimal. Magnesium deficiency is one of the largest contributors to sleep disruption and legs cramps that make sleeping difficult. Magnesium is designed to help the body relax and contract, so naturally it is one of the best aides for sleep. The recommended dosage is to take 2 tsp before bed and let the good times roll! You can always increase the dose if desired, but beware, it can make the bowels move if you’ve had too much.
If our body isn’t properly hydrated sleep just isn’t possible. Why you ask? Because how can a body possibly rest, rejuvenate, and detoxify, if it’s full of toxin? Rid your body of the waste it is holding on to and help the organs operate properly.
At this point I might sounds like a broken record, but being healthy is easy and foundational. Another great way to help sleep is by increasing serotonin production by taking 5-HTP or D3, as well as increasing natural melatonin by getting rid of blue light from electronic devices (READ A REAL BOOK).