Since I’m just a little bit busy this week with last minute details of The 2019 Health, Home and Garden Expo, I invited a guest to do the blog this week, professional writer, Erika Long.
The human body is an extraordinary machine which even the best minds may never be able to fully understand. What we do know is that both the mind and the body need adequate rest and sleep to perform optimally. However, there are thousands of people who suffer either from sleep disturbances or chronic insomnia. Here are 3 simple steps to improve your sleep starting today.
Foods: Inducing or Disturbing Sleep
First, it’s important to identify the factors that could be causing sleep disturbances. Stress from work or relationships, traveling or an injury can all cause interruptions in our sleep patterns. The food we eat also play a role.
It’s best to avoid food with a high glycemic index a couple hours before bed as these foods can spike blood sugar levels. When sugar levels then drop suddenly, the body will crave more sugar and can wake you in the middle of a deep rest in order to get the next sugar rush. Alcohol is another item to avoid before bed. Though the depressant in alcohol, makes us sleepy, the sugar in wine and cocktails can cause an insulin spike.
Caffeine is great at keeping us alert but when it comes to sleep, it could cause problems. Be sure to stop consuming caffeine, like in coffee, tea and chocolate, by the late afternoon if you want to easily fall asleep. Spicy foods can also cause digestion problems if consumed to late in the evening. Finally, foods that are rich in vitamin B12 should be avoided before sleep as B12 converts the glucose in food into energy and can make us alert when we are trying to wind down. Eggs and meat are just a few foods rich in B12.
Other foods full of certain minerals and vitamins can aid relaxation, like the classic warm cup of milk before bed. Milk is a rich source of calcium, magnesium and tryptophan which can all help the body fall asleep and stay asleep. Drinking chamomile tea is also very soothing and can function like a mild sedative due to a flavonoid called apigenin that has an effect on the GABA receptors in the brain.
- Honoring the Body’s Rhythm
The circadian rhythm is the internal clock in the brain that regulates when we are awake and when we sleep. It tells the brain when to release melatonin, which is a sleep-inducing hormone, and when to release cortisol, a stress hormone that makes us alert. When our sleep gets disturbed, it could lead to an imbalance in these hormones, as well as other ones. There are sleep aids available at drugstores but those can cause dementia. Instead, natural supplements like CBD oil for sleep are a safe and effective way to treat sleep issues as CBD works to regulate the hormones that induce sleep.
Before reaching for supplements, you can try resetting your circadian rhythm. It’s not hard. It will require going to bed and waking at about the same times and some light exercise. Go to bed by 10pm, wake up between 6-8am and then going for a walk in the morning sunlight for 30-45 minutes. When our eyes register sunlight, cortisol is released waking us up and serotonin is also produced that will begin converting approximately 12 hours later into melatonin right in time to start winding down for bed. It’s important not to wear sunglasses or anything that will block the sunlight getting to your eyes. It’s fine to wear sunscreen.
- Turn off the light
Because light is such a critical factor to our circadian rhythm, it’s important to turn off blue-light emitting devices, like cell phones, computers and tv monitor in the evening. It’s best to switch off all electronic gadgets and devices at least one hour before bed as the blue light confuses the brain into thinking it needs to stay awake.
Sleep is one of the most important activities our body needs to be healthy and feel good. Besides good nutrition and exercise, restful sleep is essential to supporting the body to be at its best.
Thank you, Erika.