Improving your sleep can impact your health in many ways. Unfortunately many suffer from insomnia, restless sleep, waking several times throughout the night, and/or simply feel like they cannot get enough hours in and wake up feeling tired every morning.
Your sleep quality is impacted by diet, lifestyle, and nighttime habits. Here are 3 ways to improve your sleep starting today:
Tip #1: Eliminate or Limit Sugar and Caffeine
Your blood sugar and cortisol levels impact your quality of sleep by mimicking the same patterns you have during the day at night. For example: If you are continually having sugar spikes and crashes during the day because of sugar and caffeine in your diet, these spikes and crashes continue when you sleep causing you to wake up at odd hours of the night and have restless sleep. You may even have to wake in the middle of the night to urinate, sometimes a few times. These are all signs that something is imbalanced whether that is blood sugar or cortisol.
Try cutting sugar and foods that are higher in carbohydrates from your diet and focus on eating vegetables, meats and healthy fats instead.
A healthy meal example would look like:
4-6 ounces of pastured roasted chicken
1-2 cups of roasted broccoli florets drizzled with olive oil and sea salt
A salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil
In addition to carbohydrates and sugar, we must look at how much caffeine is in the diet. Caffeine can also have an effect on blood sugar and cortisol levels causing unnecessary spikes throughout the day. Caffeine is usually okay in moderation but try limiting yourself to 1 cup a day, the earlier the better. A standard rule is to discontinue any intake of caffeine after 12:00pm.
Some people may find that they need to eliminate caffeine altogether in order to improve their sleep.
If blood sugar and cortisol become regulated, you will have a natural decrease in cortisol in the evenings and be able to fall asleep. stay asleep, and wake in the morning with energy and an increase in cortisol.
Tip #2: Avoid Light at Bedtime
On a planet inhibited by trillions of life forms, we humans alone can control the light. When we do not sleep with seasonal light exposure, we alter our biological rhythms that control hormones and neurotransmitters determining appetite, fertility, and mental and physical health. By relying on artificial light to extend for days, we fool our bodies into living in a perpetual state of summer. Anticipating scarce food supply and forced inactivity of the coming winter, our bodies begin to store fat and slow metabolism to sustain us through months of hibernation and hunger that never arrive.
Long hours of artificial light register as summer to your body. When you're surrounded by light before you sleep you create summer year round which signals to your body to eat more, store fat, and stay awake longer. Not to mention the light will prevent you from producing melatonin, a hormone that is involved in the synchronization of circadian rhythms. Without the proper production of melatonin, your body does not get the signal to go to sleep and instead you feel very awake.
Tip #3: Magnesium
Magnesium is well known for it’s help with insomnia. It can help to decrease cortisol levels (the “stress” hormone) that keeps you awake at night. Magnesium also helps to relax your muscles and can give you the sleepy feeling that you need right before bed.
While most people find magnesium to be calming, others can have the opposite effect and become wired. Those that experience insomnia from taking magnesium at night, would best be suited to take magnesium in the morning instead.
Another caution when taking magnesium is the amount that you take. While magnesium is a natural laxative and can help those with constipation, if taken in excess some might experience loose bowel movements or diarrhea.
In general, a daily dose of magnesium can help those that have high stress, insomnia, do intense training regimens, or have muscle cramps.
Steps to creating a better sleep routine:
- Make your room a cave. Darken completely and keep it very cool. Go to bed reading something that will calm you and bring you to a peaceful place. Get away from work subjects and read something that is good for your soul.
- Get up and go to bed at the same time every day. Your body does not know the difference between Monday and Saturday.
- Avoid all technology 30 minutes prior to going to bed.
- Make sure your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable.
- Take magnesium before bed to relax
- Try a hot bath 90 minutes before you want to go to sleep. Make sure your bedroom is cold. The difference in temperature can assist in the production of melatonin.
- Aimfor 7-9 hours of sleep every night, Monday through Sunday.
- Eliminate or limit sugar and caffeine, particularly before be