Getting a good night’s sleep is so important, yet how many of us are sleeping well?
When you awake, do you feel rested?
Do you have trouble falling asleep? Staying asleep? Waking early?
There are many factors to consider in sleeping well and it starts long before you get into bed. Consider your intake of caffeine, alcohol, OTC sleep aides, prescription drugs, nicotine, anti-histamines, what you’re eating in the evening, what time you’re exercising and even how much you’re exercising. Sleep hygiene is super important. Small things can make a big difference. For me, darkness is one of them. I simply cannot sleep in a room with any small amount of light coming in. My husband makes fun and says “Close your eyes, you won’t see the light anymore.” Trouble is, our eyelids are porous and our eyes contain receptors that receive signals from light, telling us that it’s daytime. Our system needs total darkness to make melatonin. Melatonin is light sensitive and is suppressed by artificial light.
Some things to consider in order to get a better sleep:
- Create a bedtime routine
- Limit TV, computer, and tablet use in the evening – the blue light these devices emit tell your body it’s time to stay awake and not to make/use serotonin to make melatonin. Stop using these devices at least one hour before bedtime.
- Honour your circadian rhythm. At the first sign of drowsiness, go to bed. This is your brain telling you it’s ready to shut off. So many times we try to finish our task, or the TV show. We end up nodding off on the couch, go back through the light, brush our teeth, wash our face, etc and then go to bed. We’ve told the brain it’s time to wake up! Instead, at the first sign of drowsiness, give in. Otherwise, you miss your “window” of sleep opportunity.
- Eat a tryptophan rich bedtime snack about 1/2 hour – 1 hour before bed. Foods that contain tryptophan include: turkey, cottage cheese, chicken, salmon, cashews, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds. This snack should be eaten with a small amount of starch as your body needs carbohydrates to make serotonin. With this in mind, be mindful to eat at least 2 servings of quality carbohydrates a day, one of them at dinner. Eating a snack at bedtime will also help regulate your blood sugar. Sometimes, the cause of waking in the night is actually low blood sugar levels.
- Many of us are magnesium deficient. Magnesium allows the muscles to relax. You can purchase a cal-mag (calcium/magnesium) supplement at your local health food store. Liquids are more easily absorbed. If you’re purchasing cal-mag together, try to find one that is a 1:1 ratio. If you’re buying magnesium on it’s own, purchase magnesium glycinate if possible.
- B6 is our sleep vitamin. If you’re taking a B6 supplement, take it with your evening snack. B6 is necessary for serotonin production.
The chain of events goes something like this:
Tryptophan —–5HTP——Serotonin——Melatonin. B6 and glucose help get the chain going and keep it moving. B6 is also the dream recall vitamin so you may find you’re remembering your dreams with increased levels of B6.
There are some herbs that have been proven to work well to encourage sleep. Always be careful with the use of herbs, especially if you are taking any prescription medicines.
- lemon balm
- passion flower
You may find some of these ingredients in a tea sold at your local health food store. Essential oils are also available to support better sleep and help with occasional sleeplessness. Email me for more info!