Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and eating a healthy diet of mostly plants and organic superfood ingredients. Research shows that a poor night’s sleep has immediate negative effects on your hormones, brain function and exercise performance. It can contribute to weight gain, poor decision making, poor concentration, irritability, and fatigue. In contrast a good night’s sleep can benefit your immune system, memory consolidation and learning, muscle tissue repair and growth and help you make better choices when it comes to what you eat and how much you exercise.
Four Stages of Sleep
Stage 1 – Your body and mind start winding down and you slowly become sleepy
Stage 2 – Light sleep stage, and we spend about 50% of the night in this stage. Heart rate slows, body temp drops.
Stage 3 – Deep sleep, restoration stage - promotes muscle and tissue growth, cell repair
Stage 4 – REM (rapid eye movement) – dreams occur, memories are consolidated and brain recharges. Heart rate increases, body no longer moves, brain is active. First REM lasts around 10 minutes and occurs 90 minutes after you sleep. Each REM stage gets longer potentially up to one hour. Usually 4-5 REM per night, which is around 20-25% of total sleep.
Ways To Promote a Healthy Sleep Routine
- Create a schedule and stay consistent- wake up and go to bed around the same time
- Sunlight in first 30 minutes of waking and mid-day
- Exercise – best to do more intense exercise earlier in the day and stretches before bed
- Using various calming essential oils, such as lavender, before bed
- Having a diffuser in your bedroom can assist with healthy breathing or have an Epson salt bath before bed
- Optimize melatonin – blue light blocking glasses one to two hours before bed
- Deep belly breathing, (one hand on belly and other on chest) as your lying-in bed
- Progressive muscle relaxation (contract and relax different muscle groups starting at feet and work up towards the head- inhale and contract, hold for a few seconds, exhale and release)
- Limit alcohol and caffeine in the evening hours
- Try to aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night
Whether you are struggling to fall asleep, stay asleep or find yourself waking up early below are a few suggestions for commonly used supplements to help with sleep.
** Be sure to speak with someone before taking a supplement.
Magnesium – glycinate is the best form – nervous system relaxant, muscle relaxant
Melatonin – chemical naturally produced and released in response to darkness
Vitamin B6 – helps convert 5 HTP to serotonin which is a mood enhancing neurotransmitter used to produce melatonin
Passion flower, hops, lemon balm, valerian, chamomile, skull cap – herbs to help with sleep
GABA – naturally occurring chemical produced in the brain that will help falling asleep quicker
What To Eat Before Bed
Avoid: coffee, soda, alcohol, fatty foods, sugary foods, spicy foods
Consume: kiwi (serotonin), cherries (melatonin), banana (potassium, magnesium, tryptophan), almonds (magnesium, calcium), sweet potato (potassium), cocao (magnesium, potassium)
Additional Resources for Great Sleep
Top Sleep Hygiene Tips and Supplements by Karolina Zaremba
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker
Written by Diane Tuerke; CNP, BSc(kin), CPT for Rawcology