Most Americans are under slept and without enough sleep we are setting ourselves up for unstable moods, hunger cravings, and challenges with weight loss. In fact, in Robb Wolf’s book, Wired to Eat, he notes that Americans, on average sleep 2.5 hours less per night than Americans in the 1970’s. We often taught sleep deprivation like a badge of honor, but it is really a disservice to our health. Wolf also goes on to explain that in order for humans to deal with the stress of sleep deprivation, we are wired to seek out any food, especially highly processed foods. In fact, we have less willpower to resist these foods when we are sleep deprived. Lastly, Wolf goes on to point out there is a relationship between poor sleep and the inability to lose fat.
Five Tips to Improve Sleep
- As dark as a cave! Make sure your bedroom is as dark as a cave. Not only do your eyes have light receptors, but all of your skin does too.The light that is often emitted from electronics should be turned off or covered up. This includes clocks, night lights, TV, etc. Using electrical tape or a washcloth can help. I also LOVE sleeping with an eyemask. I have linked to my favorite Eye Mask and my husband’s favorite eye mask (Blinks Luxury Ultralight Comfortable Contoured Eye Sleep Mask). Blackout Curtains are something else that I HIGHLY recommend. Here is a link to my favorite brand, Eclipse.
Cool it Now! Your body temperature needs to fall a degree or two for optimal sleep and so your bedroom must also have a lower temperature. Between 64°- 66° is the optimal bedroom temperature according to Wolf.
Magnesium naturally relaxes the body and reduces stress. A supplement like Natural Vitality Natural Calm Magnesium (unflavored for the 21DSD) is great way to get magnesium citrate.
Vitamin D can be hard to get enough of in our modern lifestyles due to indoor living and loads of sunscreen. A Vitamin D3 Liquid Supplement can be helpful for improving sleep.
* Be sure to discuss supplements with your doctor before taking any new supplements.
Folks with children know that bedtime routines really help with getting a restful night’s sleep. The same is true for adults. Having a consistent and regular bedtime along with a regular routine (that hopefully doesn’t involve screen time) will help power down your brain and get your body ready for sleep.
Balanced Bites Podcast 303 All About Sleep http://balancedbites.com/episode303/
Balanced Bites Podcast 287 with Robb Wolf http://balancedbites.com/podcast-episode-287-wired-to-eat-with-robb-wolf/
Go To Bed by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne https://www.thepaleomom.com/books/gotobed/
Eleven Tips for a Better Night Sleep
Swannies Blue Light Blocking Sleep Aid Glasses
I originally wrote this as a handout for my Nutrition Classes. I wrote up a Condition and Nutrient Report for Anxiety Disorder Management and decided to focus on Sleep for my Educational Handout. Since SLEEP is elusive for many of us AND since almost any health concern can be helped with a better night’s sleep, I thought I’d share it here on the blog. What tips help you to get a good night’s sleep?
Here it is!
It’s no secret that a good night’s sleep is good for you. It is your body’s time to repair and regenerate. But not only is sleep good for you, but it can also help with managing Anxiety Disorders.
Eleven Steps to Ensure the Best Night’s Sleep:
- Humans thrive on routine and having a nighttime routine can help to get your body and your brain ready to power down for uninterrupted sleep (Ramos, 2015).
- Reserve your bed for sleeping and making love. Avoid watching TV or working in bed because the brain will associate those things with the bed and have trouble powering down (Scott, 2010).
- Sleep in a room that is as dark as a cave by getting rid of lights from alarm clocks and other devices. In order to produce enough melatonin (and therefore serotonin), your body needs it to be dark. If you can’t get your bedroom pitch black, try an eye mask (Scott, 2010).
- Shower or take an Epsom salt bath before bed because it raises your body temperature. After, there is a slight drop in body temperature that signals your brain that it’s time for sleep (Breus, 2006). The Epsom salts contain magnesium, which is also relaxing.
- Noise can make falling asleep challenging. Being awoken in the middle of the night also makes it challenging to fall back to sleep. Try earplugs, a noise machine, SleepPhones with music or meditation music to help fall asleep or to fall back asleep when woken up in the middle of the night (Scott, 2010).
- Meditate for at least five or more minutes before bed to create a relaxed state of mind (Bauman, 2015).
- Keep your bedroom cool (Scott, 2010).
- Avoid technology (especially tablets and smart phones) for about an hour before bed. The lights emitted really disturb sleep patterns (Breus, 2006).
- Keep a consistent bedtime, preferably around 10pm (Scott, 2010).
- Try diffusing essential oils for relaxation. Lavender, Roman Chamomile, and Valerian can support relaxation and sleep (Higley, C. & Higley, A., 2013).
- Count backwards by threes (400, 397, 394, etc.). Dr. Breus (2006) suggests that this is challenging enough to keep your interest but boring enough to put you to sleep. I have also tried an “appreciation body scan” where I start at my feet and legs, thanking them for their hard work for the day and work my way up. I almost always fall asleep before I get to thanking my head.
Things to Avoid:
- Caffeine is a common sleep disruptor. Depending on the person, even caffeine consumed early in the day can disrupt sleep. It is stimulating to the body by raising cortisol and adrenaline levels and it depletes serotonin and melatonin (Scott, 2010).
- Alcohol often causes people to have disrupted sleep. It is best to minimize alcohol intake to improve sleep (Bauman, 2015).
Supplements to Try:
- Try drinking Calm – a magnesium supplement before bed. Magnesium is a natural relaxer and is stress reducing (Bauman, 2015).
- Tart cherry juice contains melatonin, which supports sleep (Breus, 2006).
- Melatonin is the precursor to serotonin, so supplementing with melatonin can help support a restful night’s sleep and less anxiety (Bauman, 2015).
- Vitamin B6 supplement can help to improve the quality of your sleep (Scott, 2010).
Bauman, E. (6/20/15-9/30/15). Personal Communication
Breus, M. (2006). Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health. New York, NY: Penguin Group Inc.
Higley, C. & Higley, A. (2013). Quick Reference Guide for Using Essential Oils. Spanish Fork, UT: Abundant Health.
Jacobs, A. (2012). Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Scott, T. (2010). The Anti-Anxiety Food Solution. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Ramos, M. (2015, September). Sex Food Therapy retrieved from: http://www.sexyfoodtherapy.com/