Trouble sleeping?

May 4, 2018

 

Often times, sleep is not the first thing to come to mind when talking about living a healthy lifestyle.

 

The truth is, not getting enough sleep or lacking quality sleep is linked to a range of serious health problems such as Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression to name a few.  

 

Studies have shown that just one night of sleep deprivation can make you as insulin resistant as a person with Type 2 Diabetes.  This translates directly into aging faster, decreased libido, and storing more body fat.  So you can imagine the compound effects of sleep deprivation from two nights, a week, a month, or even years.

 

A 2017 report by Statistics Canada found that a third of Canadians aged 18-64 (based on the Canadian Health Measures Survey from 2007 to 2013), were getting fewer than seven hours of sleep a night.  For optimal physical and mental health, it’s recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night

 

There are many benefits to getting some good zzz’s, including boosting your metabolism, strengthening your immune system, balancing your hormones, giving you energy, and improving your brain function.

 

Here are 12 tips to help you get a good night’s sleep:

 

1.  Get more sunlight 

  • Sunlight exposure during the day helps with the production and secretion of melatonin at night to help you sleep better.  Try and get outside for at least 30 minutes of daylight, preferably in the morning.

2.  Stop having caffeine (coffees, teas, chocolate, cocoa…) after 2PM

  • Caffeine has a half-life of approximately 5-8 hours (depending on your biochemical makeup).  Using an 8-hour half-life example: after 8 hours of consuming 200 mg of caffeine (about 1 cup of coffee), you’ll have 100 mg active in your system.  Then after another 8 hours, 50 mg is left active in your system.  And so on.  

  • Caffeine stimulates your adrenal glands to produce adrenaline and cortisol.  Both are important hormones, however we want to keep their production lower in the evening, so use caffeine strategically by consuming it earlier in the day.

3.  Feed your gut the right stuff

  • Did you know that about 95% of your body’s serotonin is located in your gut?  Serotonin is important for melatonin secretion (to help you get good sleep), so a healthy digestive tract can impact your brain and sleep. 

  • Eat more foods high in:

    • Vitamin C (dark leafy greens, bell peppers, citrus fruits, kiwis, papaya, strawberries)

    • Calcium (kale, collard greens, mustard greens, sardines, sesame seeds)

    • Vitamin D (salmon, swordfish, mackeral, tuna, shitake mushrooms)

    • Selenium (brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, beef, chicken, cremini mushrooms, oysters)

    • Tryptophan (turkey, chicken, eggs, sweet potatoes, bananas, almonds, chia/hemp/pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, sugar-free yogourt)

    • Omega-3’s (halibut, salmon, walnuts, chia/flax/hemp/pumpkin seeds

    • Melatonin (tart cherries, walnuts, ginger, asparagus, pineapples, tomatoes, bananas, oranges)

    • Vitamin B6 (bananas, sugar-free yogourt, almonds, cashews, natural peanut butter, avocados, eggs, fish, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes)

    • Probiotics (sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, miso, kefir, yogourt)

    • Prebiotics (Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, dandelion greens, onions, raw garlic)

 

4.  Avoid all screens before bedtime

  • Put away or turn off all screens/device sounds/notifications (laptop/desktop, cell phone, tablets, TV) at least 90 minutes before bedtime.  This allows for your melatonin and cortisol levels to normalize.  Do some light reading instead of screen time.

 

5.  Keep it cool

  • Studies have found that the optimal room temperature for sleep is quite cool (between 60-68F/15-20 degrees)

 

6.  Keep it dark

  • Your skin has photoreceptors similar to the ones in your retina.  So if light is coming into the bedroom during sleep, your skin will pick it up and send messages to the brain that can disrupt your sleep.

  • Studies have shown that light exposure during sleep suppresses melatonin levels by more than 50%.  You don’t want this!

  • Get black out curtains (like the ones in hotels) and make sure no light is sneaking in.  Cover up any digital alarm clocks so no light comes through.

 

7.  Make your bedroom a sleep haven

  • Keep the air fresh. Ions in the air can become stale and less energized, so keep the air moving.  Open windows or turn on a fan to allow air flow or use an air ionizer.

  • Get some plants.  English Ivy is known to be the best air-filtering house plant.

  • Add anything that brings you peace, calm and relaxation to the space.

  • Keep the bedroom a sacred place for connection and sleep.  Keep work out of this space (no computers or even talking about work).

 

8.  Exercise …enough but not too much

  • The energy depletion during exercise stimulates recuperative processes during sleep.

 

9.  No pets in the bedroom

  • Pets are cute, but can be disruptive in the bedroom.

 

10.  Avoid drinking alcohol close to bedtime

  • Alcohol disrupts our REM sleep and can keep us going to the washroom at night, thereby disrupting our sleep patterns.  Try to have your last drink at least 3 hours before bed.

 

11.  Meditate 

  • Meditating at night can help calm and relax your body for bed.

 

12. Massage

  • Getting frequent massages help activate your parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest), promotes serotonin and oxytocin production, and reduces cortisol levels.  All good things to help you get a good night's sleep.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mimie Louie is a Certified Fitness and Nutrition Coach, founder of keepingitrealfit.com.  She specializes in helping women who want to feel more empowered and free in their body. She helps women get lean and strong, and feel more confident. Her programs are designed to work with a busy woman’s schedule and lifestyle.  She is a Trailblazer in our Etobicoke Branch.  Feel free to reach out at mimie@keepingitrealfit.com

 

 

Certified Fitness and Nutrition Coach, Pn1

Certified Personal Trainer, PTS

 

 

 

 

 

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