You’d probably be surprised at how many of my acupuncture patients come through my door asking how they can get better sleep.
Still, others don’t seem to understand how important getting better sleep is to support all aspects of healing.
Whether they are coming to me to heal back pain, stress, headaches or another issue, I always recommend these four key Lifestyle Pillars to as a part of their healing plan:
The Importance of Proper Sleep
Stress, physical pain and chronic illness each have cyclical relationships with sleep. What I mean by this is that a lack of sleep can make each of these problems worse, and visa versa.
Some other consequences of poor sleep may include:
- Poor concentration
- Poor memory
- Mood swings
- Low immunity
- High blood pressure
Some research even points to the potential that lack of sleep is frequently linked to two of the greatest non-health-related mortality risks: medical errors and motor vehicle accidents.
Here are a few tips to help you get a better sleep.
How To Get a Better Sleep: Understand the Cortisol Cycle
Cortisol (the stress hormone) is a natural part of our sleep-wake cycle. Ideally, we have a cortisol peak in the morning to wake us up and get us moving.
Following this, peak cortisol gradually tapers out through the rest of the day.
Later in the day, our production of melatonin (the sleep hormone) naturally increases.
If everything is in balance, this cycle helps us keep regular sleep cycles — but many of us struggle to achieve good sleep habits.
What’s the main culprit? Stress.
When we experience physical, mental and emotional stress, we secrete additional cortisol, creating spikes in the natural decrease that is supposed to happen throughout the day.
Blood sugar changes can also affect your cortisol levels, and high-carb meals can affect blood sugar.
So believe it or not, even what you eat at the start of the day can have a profound effect on how you feel — and how well you sleep — at the end of the day.
With that in mind, here are some tips on how to achieve more balance in these hormone fluctuations throughout the day.
1. Eat a Balanced Breakfast
Most American breakfasts contain too much of one macronutrient: carbohydrates.
Usually, simple carbs cause a spike in blood sugar and subsequent crash, which throws off our cortisol cycle and ultimately impacts our sleep later in the day.
Ideally, a balanced breakfast should contain a balance of all three macronutrients, rather than being heavy in a single one: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
And of course, it’s always a good idea to include some vegetables in every meal!
Consider veggie omelet or quiches. If you are meal prepping for the week, breakfast quiches, in particular, can be easily reheated throughout the week.
2. Snack on Healthy Fats Before Bed
If you’re the type of person who likes to have a little nibble before bed, I suggest steering away from refined carbs and opting for healthy fats or whole grains.
Some examples of snacks that can help you get a better sleep include:
- A handful of nuts
- A bowl of plain yogurt
- A hard-boiled egg
If you choose refined carbs (or even eat too much of something with natural sugars), this can cause your blood sugar to rise and then crash.
When no additional fuel is being added to the system, this causes your adrenals to kick in and secrete cortisol…you guessed it, the same cortisol we secrete to wake up!
3. Turn Down the Heat
As the sun goes down and temperature drops, it naturally mimics what happens in our bodies as we prepare to sleep.
However, with modern heating and air conditioning, many homes are kept too warm to promote healthy sleep.
According to sleep.org, the best temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees F.
Supplements to Help You Sleep
There are a few natural supplements that can help you move towards healthier sleep cycles and get a better sleep — here are three suggestions:
- Tart Cherry helps to stimulate the production of melatonin, aiding the sleep process without the side effects and dependency associated with melatonin supplements.
- Magnesium is a common deficiency in our current (US) diet. But it promotes relaxation and can be a great aid in getting a good night’s sleep.
- Kava is wonderful to help people relax after a stressful day; though not technically a sleep aid, it does help to relax the mind and fall asleep.
Note: Before adding supplements to your regime, be sure to check with a qualified healthcare provider.
Get Support Today
If a lack of sleep is affecting your life, there are simple solutions for helping you feel better and sleep soundly.
I can help you find natural solutions to poor sleep habits — book your free consultation today!
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