Do you lie in bed wired-tired? Worrying about getting sick and paying bills?
Do you then catch a second wind and stay up till 2 am?
What is the last time you got a good night’s sleep?
You are NOT alone. So many people struggle!
Without a good night’s sleep, you cannot restore your hormones and you build up inflammation and stress. There is a reason why sleep deprivation is a form of torture! If you claim to be a night person, let me put it in perspective: you either trained your body to be so, or your adrenals are already dysfunctional due to prolonged stress, in which case, it is very hard for you to get up in the morning (cortisol is too low) and you are wide awake late in the evening, when you catch the so-called second wind (cortisol spikes).
Second wind…wired tired….
You can be tucked in bed but cannot fall asleep because you are wired-tired… The current viral pandemic does not help.
Based on my clinical work I came to believe that rather than being night owls, most of us have been conditioned by electric light and multitasking to stay up late. For many moms, late evening is the only quiet time they can claim their own. It is asking a lot to request going to sleep around 10 pm in our over-committed lives.
Sleep in addition to diet and exercise is one of the most important factors in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Sleep not only rejuvenates the body and mind, it is important for cognitive function, consolidating memories and overall mental health. According to the National Sleep Foundation it is estimated that over 63 percent of Americans are sleep deprived. Many diseases and symptoms including weight gain, increased caffeine consumption, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression are associated with a lack of sleep.
HERE’S WHAT YOU DO TO GET A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP:
- Know How Long and What Time
According to The National Sleep Foundation, the optimal amount of sleep for adults is seven to nine hours. My personal recommendation: no less than eight hours.
But, wait, did you know? Eight hours is not the whole story!
Pick your eight hours wisely!
The hours from 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. are THE daily repair time! It ensures that your liver detoxifies and the body and brain get needed repair. This is when your hormones will be restored—the human growth hormone among others (our youth hormone). If you are asleep at this time, you will experience deep sleep and REM sleep, the restorative phases of sleep.
You can sleep eight hours from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m.,
but you will NOT get the quality of sleep your body needs,
even though it is the same number of hours.
Your goal: Go to sleep at 10 pm and 10:30 pm at the latest!
2. Do Daily “Brain-Train”
Do the Sun Exercise!
If you really struggle being sleepy during the day and then wide awake at night, this is my favorite sleep prep exercise to suggest to fix this problem. So simple and fun. Sit down in the sun midday with your eyes closed for 5-10 minutes – the sun will hit your closed eyes and the pineal gland will adjust to stimulate your cortisol, which in turn inhibits melatonin. Cortisol wakes you up (the sun is up – “rise and shine!”) while melatonin tells you to go to sleep (the sun is gone- “you are getting really sleepy now!”). If it is winter, bundle up, put your hat on, open the window and sit in an armchair. Do that every day, seriously, and watch how much better your sleep is. Your mood may also improve – sun light is so good for us.
This simple exercise may help you reset cortisol and melatonin. You do not want extra melatonin during the day and drag your feet but then be wired-tired at night with raging cortisol.
Do a Special Bathtub Spa Ritual!
Taking a hot bath is a great way to relax and destress. But taking a long one before sleep also sets you up for a good night’s sleep. What makes it even more relaxing to support your deep sleep:
- Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil like lavender to help you relax
- Add at least 1 cup of the good old Epsom Salt to your Bathtub Spa! Why is this particular salt so famous? For very good reasons: it contains magnesium, which relaxes your tense muscles as well as your mind. Most people do not know or appreciate that it also contains sulfate, which is also soothing, especially to the gut!
Don’t Let your Pineal Gland Pick up “Rise and Shine” signals!
- Tell your brain that the sun is setting by switching from electric lights to soft light of candlelight or Himalayan salt lamps in the evening. Himalayan candle burners are also available. Remember that the pineal gland will pick up light signal, so soft candle light in the evening is much better and less stimulating. Switching to soft light will tell your brain the day is ending, and it will start converting your remaining serotonin into melatonin, so you can get pleasantly sleepy fast and retire to bed.
- Avoid using digital devices an hour before going to sleep but ideally after sunset.
- Don’t take phones and tablets to bed. The blue light from your phone’s display is more likely to keep you awake than the incandescent lamp on your bedside table.
- Turn off your cell phone and do not use it as an alarm clock.
- Buy an alarm clock that is not electronic – avoid a digital one that glows in the dark. Here is the one I have: Marathon CL030053BK Silent Non-Ticking Alarm Clock with Warm Amber Auto Back Light and Repeating Snooze.
3. Make Your Bedroom Your Sanctuary
Make your bedroom a place of sensuality and love and make it as dark as possible. Remove all sources of light, such as glowing electronic alarm clocks. Get thick drapes that allow NO light in, or get an eye mask. You want to say ahhhhh everything you enter your bedroom. No books on the floor and clothes on the bed. Just a beautiful sensual room to enter.
4. Do Detective Work in your Bedroom
Is your bed part of the problem? Invest in the best bed you can. Do you have a spring mattress and at the same, do you have any metal in your body (e.g., hip replacement)? Are the metal coils safe or do they become a radiation antenna? Here is a good article on it. You do not want to become an antenna.
Is the bed positioned in such a way that electric sockets for your lamps are right next to your head?
Do you ever kill off the dust mites and other little critters feeding off dead skin cells hanging around your bed and your bedding? If these keep you up at night (bed bugs, for example), you may also want to disinfect your bed regularly with a steam cleaner. Here is what I use.
Here is a very unorthodox way to deal with them: if you have a big freezer freeze them by putting your bedding in it!!!
The air that is blowing on your face or head while you sleep is not clean air. Not by a long shot! First of all, have your vents cleaned regularly! Second, have the floor registers washed as well. Finally, although instructions may tell you to replace the furnace air filter every few months, in our 100-year-old house in Baltimore, I had to do that every single month, so keep track of that.
Excellent new habit to develop: open the bedroom window for a few hours before you go to sleep. You also want to open the door to the bedroom and open one or more windows in other rooms for added draft and air circulation. I recommend opening the bedroom door for one or 2 hours every evening and if possible, sleep with the window open! This is something my mom taught me growing up. You will LOVE that, especially if you have forced air.
What about the location of your bedroom? Is it above your garage? In a Canadian study, households with attached garages had three times as much benzene as those with a separate garage, according to Health Canada. Not only is benzene carcinogenic, but it affects the ability of your marrow to produce red blood cells, it damages the immune system, and it decreases the production of white blood cells, your immune fighters.
If you sleep above the garage, see how you feel when you sleep away from that room, or, if you can, install an exhaust fan in the garage. The Environmental Protection Agency provides two options: continuous mechanical ventilation of 50 CFM or intermittent ventilation for a minimum of 20 minutes at a capacity of 100 CFM per car (200 for two-bay garage), turned on each time the garage door is opened.
5. Decrease Exposure to EMF and Blue Light for Better Sleep
Electromagnetic field (EMF), or electromagnetic smog, as it has been called, has been shown in research to suppress the pineal gland, causing a decrease of melatonin, which is the hormone that tells you to go to sleep. Melatonin is also a potent antioxidant and you need it for your cellular energy: without melatonin, it is harder for mitochondria inside your cells to make cellular energy, and that translates into you being fatigued, which makes getting good sleep even more challenging.
Blue light in particular is disruptive. That is the light that is produced by electronic devices: your phone, computer, laptop, TV, tablet, as well as fluorescent light and LED light bulbs. According to studies, 60% of the population spends more than six hours in front of a digital device. Count me in, unfortunately. I had perfect vision until my 40s, but I worked on my computer full time in my practice. It was not until the most recent years that we had learned about blue light, but luckily, we have a lot we can do now to block it.
Turn off the blue light on all your electronic devices. There are simple video tutorials online for all kinds of devices: I was able to turn off blue light on our iPads, laptop, computer, and our phones this way! Of course, get blue light blocking glasses, especially for TV.
If you do not have prescription glasses, you can easily buy glasses that block blue light, but you will not have a guarantee of the % of blue light they actually block. Check out a more reputable brand like True Dark: and check the Twilights for the evenings if you have trouble sleeping and the Daywalkers for getting out and about and working on electronic devices during the day.
Smart meters: What you want to consider is that the pulsating signaling from a smart meter is 24/7. First, you need to find out if it is on your home, as you may not even be aware you have it. Secondly, if you have it, you need to ask your provider if it can be removed and an analog meter can be put back. In some states, you have no right to have it removed, which absolutely violates our rights. In that case, you need to box it.
Wi-Fi routers: You can box them or If you cannot box your router, then you can go online to your provider and preset the wi-fi to turn off every night at a particular time.
A reputable company for boxing both smart meters and wi-fi routers is www.smartmeterguard.com
80% your Sleep Issues comes from what you put in your mouth!
As studies have shown, up to 80% of your sleep problem may stem from glucose imbalance from the foods you ate but should not have and those you need but are not eating.
Minimize these sleep disruptors when possible:
- energy drinks
- diet pills
- many antidepressants (they suppress REM sleep)
- nicotine withdrawal
- alcohol: while alcohol at night drunk in an effort to curb stress and to unwind may help you relax and fall asleep, it prevents REM sleep and deep sleep while keeping you in lighter sleep stages longer.
Feed your brain for the night. To help secure a restful night, you need two components at dinner. Remember to dress your dinner with an abundance of non-starchy vegetables (e.g., broccoli, salad, asparagus, etc.), and while dinner should be a fairly small meal (it should be the smallest meal of the day), make sure you add a little protein (animal protein or legumes/beans/soup with legumes) and a little healthy carbohydrate (a little organic sweet potato, or even some steamed white potato, some beet root, or carrots in a soup or in a salad, a handful of cooked quinoa in a salad, a little brown rice, if you can tolerate gluten-free grains, etc.). Legumes contain some carbohydrates too. A simple cannellini soup with vegetables and brown rice in it would be perfect.
Both protein and carbohydrates will improve your chances to get a good night’s sleep.
7. Supplement if You Need
Melatonin for Irregular Schedule: If your life is full of changes and interruptions in sleep patterns, a periodic melatonin supplementation may help. Taking 0.5mg to 3mg at bedtime may do the trick, starting with the lower dose and taking it about 1-2 hours before going to sleep for the best result.
If you take too much, you will feel drowsy in the morning, so it is easy to know what dose to use. Also, never take melatonin in the morning or during the day and stop taking it if you wake up in the night because of it. When you are on the schedule again, your body should be able to restore melatonin production, as long as you keep the lights low in the evening (candlelight or salt lamps) and do not stimulate your cortisol with late night TV or news (blue light blocking glasses). A less-known benefit of melatonin is its indirect antiviral support—for that purpose, you can actually use higher doses of it for periods of time, and we already discussed its cellular and mitochondria function.
Lithium Oratate for Stressed Women: When women are worried or overwhelmed, the brain makes much more dopamine than serotonin, a building block of melatonin, so there is not enough melatonin made. Men store more serotonin and produce more than women, so they are luckier. Lithium oratate can help the body make more serotonin, for more melatonin, and a deeper sleep. Small doses at night like 4.5 mg suffice.
Clear Neurotoxins from your Brain with L-theanine: L-theanine is an amino acid from green tea (no caffeine) that helps you feel well, relaxed, and calm, with additional protective qualities against neurotoxins in your brain. You can use 200-400mg 20 minutes before sleep if you tend to wake up at night. The better the quality of the green tea, the higher l-theanine, so you can imagine it is the highest in the expensive green tea powder used in a Japanese tea ceremony. BUT, you do not want to make that tea before bed, as the caffeine in it will keep you awake.
Make GABA with Magnesium: Magnesium is an old standard nutrient that helps relieve insomnia, and I see a rampant deficiency of magnesium in my female clients, consistent with large population studies. Magnesium is also needed for GABA synthesis (the happiness neurotransmitter) and GABA has been shown in studies to increase time and efficiency of sleep, increase melatonin, AND decrease cortisol at the same time! Here is my favorite isotonic Magnesium.
Calcium for REM Sleep: Inadequate calcium levels have been shown to disrupt sleep, including REM, and calcium helps the brain use tryptophan to synthetize melatonin.
Calcium Foods: Here are my favorite:
- Nuts and seeds: unhulled sesame seeds, hazelnuts, almonds
- Dark leafy greens: kale, collard greens
- Grains: quinoa and teff
Caution with Calcium Supplements: I recommend caution with calcium supplementation. I only recommend max 350mg calcium at a time and only if you can get it with needed cofactors (e.g., magnesium, boron, manganese), ionic form and not just calcium carbonate. Never take calcium alone and never take it in higher doses. This can lead to arterial calcification, which is as bad as cholesterol plaque, and which can lead to joint pain and inflammation. Here is the calcium I trust for resourcing, dosing, and purity, both ionic and isotonic, and use in my practice.
I hope tonight,
You’ll go out like a light!
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