Are you tired? Having a hard time waking up in the morning or hitting a mid-afternoon slump?
One of the most common reasons people are tired is because they are simply just not sleeping. First off, let’s talk about the amount of sleep you actually need. 8-10 hours!! I know that sounds ridiculous and pretty lazy to most of you, but your body needs it! If you are one of those people that functions best on 5 hours… then you have trained your body to run on adrenaline and one day you will burn out big time. If your habit is 5 hours of sleep, then it’s a bad habit and you need to work on changing it!
There are tons of studies (not that I am going to take the time to reference them, cause I need to save time to sleep!) that show increase instances of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in individuals that get less than 8 hours of sleep each night. This means that the less you sleep the more likely you are to develop these conditions. The more sleep you get, the LESS likely you are to get a disease… Are you pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down? Our society tries to fit too many hours of work into a single day. I get it! I’m a working mom too. But you can only do so much. You must allow your body to rest and repair itself so that disease doesn’t get the best of you. If you are already shooting for that magical 8-10 hours but you just suck at sleeping, let’s break it down and figure out why!
Why Can’t I Fall Asleep?
There are 2 good reasons that most people have a hard time falling asleep.
#1 Melatonin deficiency. While this is the most common remedy people reach for to help with sleep, believe it or not, I find it to be one of the least common things that actually help with sleep. Here we go… Melatonin is the hormone that is released in the absence of light to tell your body it is time for nighty night. When you are face to face with the blue light of a screen until bed time your brain never releases the stuff. Occasionally taking a small dose of melatonin (1-3mg) can be helpful. More is not better! If 3 mg isn’t helping your sleep, I can guarantee 10 mg isn’t going to do any better! Remember, if the cause of the problem is the light, consider these super stylish, blue light blocking glasses that you can wear before bed to block the light coming from “This Is us” on the TV screen, man I love that show! Another consideration is providing your body with all the co-factors that are needed for your body to produce melatonin in the first place. Think zinc! If you are zinc deficient you ain’t makin’ melatonin. Taking zinc can be more beneficial than taking melatonin itself.
#2 Anxiety. Your to do list got you all revved up? Sometimes it is hard to shut off our brains because of all we got goin’ on upstairs. Try placing a pen and pad on your night stand. When you have that thought of “oh crap I have to remember to pick up Cheerios at the grocery store tomorrow” or “I can’t forget to schedule the oil change” Just write it down! Your brain will keep thinking about that thought, trying to commit it to memory and preventing you from sleeping until you do. Another tip is to find a guided meditation app on your phone to help shut out the world and all the things that the next day has in store for you. Headspace is one of my favs. Something as simple as deep breathing before bed can also calm our nervous system enough to shut off all those thoughts.
Why Can’t I Stay Asleep?
#3 Adrenal fatigue. There is one, most common reason that people can’t stay asleep and I see it over and over again. Picture this…You’re crazy busy, go go go! So, of course like most people you have adrenal fatigue. After a long day you make dinner for the family at 6pm, then you are cleaning the house, dealing with bath time, tucking the kids into bed, and eventually falling right asleep yourself. Then boom you’re wide awake at 2am and can’t go back. Well… when those adrenals are hanging on by a thread, you can’t ask them to evenly stabilize your blood sugar through the night in the absence of food for 12 hours or more! Your body will release cortisol when your blood sugar drops to tell your liver to break down more sugar. Cortisol is the wake-up hormone. So, you’re awake! If you are having a glass of wine before bed or a bowl of ice cream… you are makin’ it even worse. EAT PROTEIN BEFORE BED! Shoot, put some beef jerky on your night stand. If you wake up in the middle of the night chew off a piece and conk back out. Helping your body to stabilize blood sugar through the night can really help keep you sleeping sound til the rooster crows. If this pattern has been well established by your body, sometimes you need some extra adrenal support to help your body fall into a normal cortisol rhythm. It should be highest in the am and lowest in the pm. Many people are bass-ackward and find themselves dragging all day while wide awake at night. No Bueno!
Now, if it’s your kids waking you up at night that’s a whole other story… Apply the above advice to them, not yourself. Many people think that annoying cats or kids means that they have a problem sleeping. You don’t have the problem, they do! Ahh…that was a long blog, now I’m tired! The point of the story is to figure out why you can’t sleep instead of just reaching for the melatonin. You should find an awesome Naturopath that does Nutrition Response Testing to help you figure out the mystery and help you prevent disease.