Sleep is not a luxury. It’s a requirement and foundation of health. It is vitally important for the body to feel restored and rejuvenated.
What does the body do while you are sleeping?
Hormones fluctuate based on day and night time sleep. Growth hormone, a vitally important hormone in chemical processes, is made at night.
At night the liver is active and detoxifying by releasing toxins and by-products of normal hormone regulation.
Recovery time for the brain – the brain needs to pause and not be running at full speed consistently. Sleep gives the brain time to recover and sort out the day’s events.
Cortisol levels, (also known as a stress hormone) are lowest around midnight. When you wake up bright at about 7am, cortisol is at a good level and the body can function optimally.
If you are not sleeping well, you are forcing cortisol levels to stay higher or have blood sugar swings such as hypoglycemia which triggers cortisol to spike causing you to wake up with heart racing. This causes the body to make new blood sugar. It’s a complex process with lots of negative impacts on the body.
So how can I improve my sleep?
Two techniques I suggest are breathing and meditation to help quieten the mind. When you first try meditation the brain can go off on tangents, this is normal. It’s important to be patient as you gain more experience.
If you get distracted, concentrate on your breathe to redirect your thoughts. Meditation can be done first thing in the morning or before bedtime (or both!).
Breathing is a nice biofeedback to help calm the body. Breathe in for 4-6 counts and exhale longer than the inhale. Do this with meditation for 20 minutes a day. Notice how anxiety goes down when you change your breathing.
Melatonin is the hormone that tells the body to go to sleep. The body makes it on its own and is higher at night time. Things that interrupt melatonin synthesis are; being exposed to blue light, tv or computer screen. Bad new for any screen addict. Don’t go to sleep with the computer or tv on because it interrupts production of this hormone.
No screen time an hour before bed is recommended. You need to go to bed in a room that is completely dark. Put shades to block out light if necessary.
Don’t expect the body to fall asleep immediately because it is not designed to do that and can’t go from super stimulated to falling asleep in minutes.
I use herbs that are sedatives such kava, skull cap, valerian and ashwaganda. Try and have a tincture made and if you wake up in the middle of the night, take the tincture again until you fall asleep.
I also add mineral supplementation of calcium and magnesium before bed. These are great muscle relaxers and helps regulate the heart. These two minerals go hand in hand and are vital for healthy bones, muscle building and regulating the heart.
There are a few foods that aid sleep.
Celery – aids in lowering blood pressure. Eating calcium rich foods will help relax muscles (also an important electrolyte). You can get this in supplement form, but it cannot be calcium carbonate. Green peppers are high in Vitamin C which will help increase oxygen in blood.
Eating lots of veggies and salads rich in potassium will also aid sleep. If the body doesn’t get enough potassium the heart needs to work harder. I like to snack on almonds before bed because it is rich in magnesium and it is a relaxer.
That not to eat
Snacking before bed triggers insulin, which keeps increasing in the body and gives you frequent urination.
Sugar depletes the body of potassium which is a normal relaxer. Do not eat too much protein before bed either. It is rich in phosphorous and will keep you up – a small portion is enough.
Coffee or tea is a stimulant and will keep you awake I’m sure and many already know this.
A big no no before bed is – alcohol. Alcohol is a dehydrator and it will cause havoc on the liver.
Definitely don’t have protein plus sugar, such as hamburger with the bun, because it increases insulin.
The body creates symptoms because it is the only language it knows. It’s saying that something is not right and it can’t be processed.
Did you know that Chiropractic care is proven to aid sleep. Studies prove that adjusting the spine successfully changes hormones that aid the sleep cycle.