SLEEP SERIES | Sleep Like You Mean It
Sleep comes easy for some, while others just can’t seem to wind down. If you are in the latter group, this post is for you. I’m diving into my favorite tips and tricks to help you get back in sync with your natural circadian rhythm.
A good night’s sleep is crucial for healthy sex and stress hormone production, cellular rejuvenation, digestive health, immune function, physical endurance, and let’s face it, just health in general. Here’s a little story – I have always been a great sleeper. Getting 8-9 hours of quality sleep has continually been a priority for me (I know, I’m crazy). Additionally, save a runny nose once or twice a year, I almost never get sick. I had no reason to connect the two UNTIL I had Lola. From the moment my sleep was disrupted, I seemed to catch every single bug that she did. I came down with some generic stomach flu people! I haven’t had the stomach flu since I was a child. I am bringing up this sad tale to illustrate the effect inadequate sleep can have on our health, vitality, and overall quality of life.
Please note that if you are experiencing a chronic tired-but-wired feeling at bedtime, it’s best to first address any underlying adrenal dysfunction. Incorporating a B vitamin complex, Vitamin C, meditation or massage to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, nervines like chamomile, lemon balm, and passionflower, ashwagandha, and adequate SLEEP will all help to nourish the adrenals. We’ll touch on these more in depth when we explore the impact of stress on our sex hormones and skin.
On to the topic at hand – best practices to get you back in the sleep groove:
• Caffeine – Limit caffeine consumption to one cup per day preferably before 10 am, but at least before noon. Our body’s production of cortisol naturally rises in the morning to help you wake up and lowers in the evening so that you can fall asleep. Caffeine causes a surge of cortisol so if you are consuming it in the afternoon or evening, you are working against your body’s natural rhythm. Not good. Additionally, caffeine has a half life of approximately 5 to 6 hours (depending on who you ask and your particular constitution) making that afternoon macchiato a poor choice if adequate sleep is a priority for you (and it is now, right??)
• Alcohol – A glass of wine may help you fall asleep, but it won’t help you stay asleep. To compensate for the alcohol in your system, your body produces adrenaline, which is why you sleep so fitfully after a few drinks. If gin martinis are in the cards, try activated charcoal before and after drinking.
• Light – By now, you know to limit exposure to blue light-emitting sources like your phone, tablet, and laptop. Light destroys melatonin, our favorite sleep hormone. It’s best to avoid these devices at least two hours before you are planning to go to sleep. Read an old-fashioned paperback book, take a bath, and if you have to scroll through your phone be sure to have it in night-shift mode.
• Magnesium – This miracle mineral is a natural muscle relaxant so it helps everything from constipation to sleep. Leafy greens are one of the best sources of magnesium and as a result, most Americans are woefully deficient. Try supplementing with 300 mg of magnesium glycinate before bed and taking a magnesium-rich Epsom salt bath to wind down at night.
• Sleep Training – It’s not just for newborns! In a perfect world, you should aim to go to bed and wake up at the exact same time every day. Yes, even on the weekends. This practice helps to set your body’s internal clock.
There you have it friends. Sleep tight and stay tuned for my next post on herbal remedies for sleep!