How do I get a good night’s sleep?
Updated: Dec 24, 2020
Hopefully you are aware that getting a good night’s sleep is very important. Not getting a good night’s sleep can have a dramatic impact on one’s health. Some impacts a lack of sleep can have on one’s body are muscle loss, weight gain, insulin resistance, and lowered hormone production like lowered testosterone.
Something that is important to point out is the difference between sleepiness and tiredness. Sleepiness is the ability to fall asleep while tiredness is a lack of energy. People with insomnia are tired but can't fall asleep. People with conditions such as sleep apnea often have sleepiness and can fall asleep anytime.
Our busy schedules and activities often subject us to stress and a racing mind that cannot be shut off before bed. While medications can be effective at helping sleep, they can cause side effects such as daytime hangover and nightmares. If you have tried conventional treatments and therapies and still have had no success or suffer adverse effects, you probably want to start thinking about your adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands are your glands of stress and release cortisol. Cortisol levels should be high in the morning and taper down at night so you can fall asleep.
Having a hard time falling asleep is typically due to hyper-adrenal function or sympathetic overdrive. And if you are waking up in the middle of night consistently, it could be due to hypo-adrenal function causing your blood sugar to drop too low at night which then wakes you up.
It is important to realize that not only stress, but what you eat throughout the day can impact the adrenals and cortisol levels. Skipping meals, eating too many carbs, not eating enough carbs, etc. can disrupt blood sugar balance which will then through cortisol levels off. If cortisol levels are high at night, falling asleep will be difficult.
Another thing to consider is the temperature in your house. Our bodies are made to sleep when it is cool. Warm temperature can confuse your muscles causing them to be more active and tense. Turning up the air-conditioning can be very helpful for those struggling to fall or stay asleep.
Foods can help you to get the shut eye you may be missing. Healthy fats like coconut oil, almond butter, avocados, etc. can help nourish the brain and can function as a great bedtime snack and keep blood sugar stable throughout the night. Other sleep supporting foods include healthy starches like a yam, and tart cherries, fermented foods and vegetable fibers. Foods such as these may actually help you sleep better since they improve gut health. A healthy gut then sends calming signals to the brain so you can feel at ease.
Supplements can often help people with cortisol issues to get a good night’s sleep. A protocol I have found very effective for my clients is: L-theanine, 5-HTP, melatonin, magnesium, and phosphatidylserine.