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Nov 07

Steps to Better Sleep

Sleep is a crucial element to health. It is the basis of our well-being and if we cut ourselves short, not only will our afternoons seem harder, but our waistlines and blood sugars can pay for it.

Suggested steps for better sleep:

  1. Black out your room. Completely. No clocks, no blinking laptops, no light. If your iPhone is your alarm, set your alarm in advance and change your setting to “Do Not Disturb,” and plug in your phone, face down.
  2. Do not check email, Facebook, social media for at least one-two hours before bed. Believe it or not, that email, notification and feed will still be there tomorrow. You need to actively take steps for better sleep. Make it a habit to put technology aside in the evening and if this is not possible, dim to brightness on your computer and phone.
  3. Don’t eat for at least 2 hours before bed. If your body is trying to digest food, you may not be able to fall asleep as soundly. This is especially true if you are eating something that doesn’t agree with you i.e. gluten, dairy, sometimes garlic and onions bother people too.
  4. On the contrary, eating carbohydrates later in the day can help you fall asleep. Carbohydrates boost tryptophan, which is a precursor to the feel good hormone serotonin. As well, the practice of consuming carbohydrates in the latter part of the day help with insulin sensitivity, thus improve sound sleep.
  5. Clean your room. Not in a mom-like suggestion but clear the clutter. A messy, cluttered space can clutter your mind and distract you from falling asleep faster.
  6. Assess your caffeine intake. If you are reliant on caffeine to keep you going – cut back. The first week of cutting back on caffeine will be hard, but then it will become manageable.
  7. Get in bed earlier and aim for 8-9 hours of sleep. Sleep can be the secret weapon for better digestion and weight loss. When we trim our sleep we become insulin resistant, we crave sugar and our hunger hormone (leptin) is deregulated. Guess what? Bedtimes are not just for kids. You now have a bedtime.
  8. Take magnesium before bed, or natural calm magnesium (this is a brand). I highly recommend and provide Standard Process supplements to clients – if interested you are welcome to email me with inquiries.
  9. Have a notebook next to your bed – if your mind is running about a project, a to-do, an upcoming event, make note of it and shut your mind off.
  10. Take 3 deep breaths, let your stress of the day go, say in your head or out loud something you are thankful for, close your eyes and fall sleep.

As for carbohydrate choices, I do not give all foods my blessing. I think there are better choices than others including:

  • Vegetables: Starchy tubers (sweet potatoes, japanese sweet potatoes, yams, tarot, jerusalem artichoke, cassava, and bamboo) and winter squash such as pumpkin and butternut squash.
  • Fruit (berries, cherries and bananas)

References:

De Castro JM. Macronutrient relationships with meal patterns and mood in the spontaneous feeding behavior of humans. Physiol Behav. 1987;39(5):561-9.

Brinkworth GD, Buckley JD, Noakes M, Clifton PM, Wilson CJ. Long-term effects of a very low-carbohydrate diet and a low-fat diet on mood and cognitive function. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Nov 9;169(20):1873-80.