Improve the Sleep Struggle
Did the change in the time this week throw you off a little? It did me! A reminder of how important our Circadian rhythm is to our health and how connected the sleep wake cycle is to Cortisol. (our stress handling hormone).
In order to do the things we demand of ourselves everyday, we must rest and repair. One bad night’s sleep has a huge impact on our health and wellbeing. Lack of sleep can cause a cascade of not so good choices and behaviors that could cause potential problems down the road.
Good quality sleep is sometimes easier said than done for many. (Mom with a newborn as an example). So I have put together a quick guide to help you see what might be causing your sleep issues and what you can do about it.
Addressing 80-90 Percent of Sleep Issues
I love to look at common patterns I see in my clients. I look for the underlying causes that could be related and connect the dots. It is a Functional and holistic approach to nutrition.
My love for finding patterns led me to these common conclusions in those who experienced insomnia:
- Blood sugar swings can wake people up in the middle of the night. This could be due to excess carbohydrate consumption, inadequate fat and/or protein intake, and nutrient deficiencies. The more you wake up the more unstable your blood sugar and the bigger the impact on the Liver.
- Dehydration can cause leg cramps, as well as dry mouth and passages, which can lead to sleeping with one’s mouth open. Mouth breathing is not healthy and sleeping with the mouth open can also lead to sleep apnea, asthma, dental problems, elevated stress, high blood pressure, heart problems, and insomnia.
- Hormone Dysregulation such as low progesterone, tends to be more common in Autoimmune diseases, and this can also lead to sleep deprivation (perimenopause and menopause). Think Night Sweats.
- Gut dysbiosis can lead to a buildup of ammonia, which has been tied to brain fog and frequent night waking’s. (Candida and Fungal overgrowth)
Dietary Interventions and Choices
Blood sugar swings and lack of protein may contribute to fluctuating energy levels throughout the day, difficulties with falling asleep, and frequent night wakings.
Balance blood sugar.
- Blood Sugar swings can put us on an emotional rollercoaster. After consuming carbohydrate-rich foods, some people find their blood sugar goes up too high, too quickly. This leads to a rapid, sometimes excessive, release of insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels). These insulin surges can cause low blood sugar, which can cause unpleasant symptoms such as anxiety, nervousness, lightheadedness, fatigue, excessive hunger, and irritability (or feeling “hangry,” as I like to call it), and can also affect sleep patterns at night. We can often wake at night if blood sugar levels drop too low, which can be a sign that blood sugar is dysregulated throughout the day as well. If this sounds like you, I recommend reducing your intake of carbohydrate-rich foods, ensuring you are consuming adequate protein and fats.
- NOTE: It is important to also note how much you eat, how late you eat and if you drank alcohol.
Consume more Healthy Fats.
- Fat is a long-burning fuel for your mind and body. If you wake up drenched in sweat due to blood sugar swings at night… then limited carbs and tried adding healthy fats to your diet. Avocado, nuts / seeds, fatty fish and olive oil are great choices. One of the best ways is to also supplement with a high quality Fish Oil. My Favorite is Olprima EPA/DHA
Get adequate amounts of amino acids.
- Our bodies use amino acids from protein, for muscle repair and immune function. Muscle repair happens at night during deep sleep, so we want to make sure our body has all the raw materials it needs at night to heal and grow new tissue. to supplement your amino acids and to make sure you are getting a good balance you might need to take Protefood before bed. Start with 1 per Night.
- So, if you are eating enough protein, perhaps you are not digesting it well? This could be due to low stomach acid can lead to poor protein digestion and can leave you with a heavy feeling during the night. Zypan 3/meal is a very good option. Perfect to have on hand for the upcoming holidays and travel. Undigested protein also raises levels of orexin, an alertness chemical in the brain, which can disrupt your sleep. Last note on this … stress depletes stomach acid as does aging.
Here are a few options to ensure you are getting enough protein:
- Supplement with protein. Adding in a high-quality protein powder can help ensure adequate protein intake in an easily digestible form. Standard Process has several clean whole food options including a vegan choice.
Supportive Supplements / Suggestions
In addition to focusing on blood sugar balance and adding adequate protein and fat to your diet.
Here are my suggestions:
- Blood Sugar Swings : Try taking, Metabolic Complex, Diaplex, Cataplex GTF.
- Wired and tired: Then calming support is key. Magnesium , Kava, Hemp oil, Ashwaganga Complex, Valarian Complex, and Nevaton Forte are good choices .
- Wake up between 1-3am. Add Liver Support like Liverplex, Livco, Antronex and Milk Thistle Forte.
- Hormonal swings: Symplex F and Trace Mineral B12 are a good start along with Ashwaganda Forte or Femco.
- Drink plenty of water however stop around 7 pm. Watch your salt intake if you eat snack foods.
- Turn off all the things and sit in quiet for about 20 minutes. This is big… (We have forgotten how to just be in silence and calm so it will take practice)
- Use a weighted blanket… My favorite and with that I turn the thermostat to 67 degrees.
- Leg Cramps at night: If you have ruled out dehydration, then it could be a need for antioxidants to support oxygenation, or that calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium are out of balance. It could also be lack of vascular integrity. If this is happening regularly make an appointment with me to address the underlying cause. You Can Book ONLINE;
Improve the Sleep Struggle
Bottom line: We all want to have more energy and feel good. It order to do that we MUST balance our nervous system. We need to fuel well and REST and REPAIR.
Poor sleep can lead to a host of health problems. Pushing until burn out, or our hustle and hurry culture is very hard to come back from and can take a while. I am saying this cause, anyone that has completed a Doctoral program can attest to this … Yes my hand is up! Sleep is proactive health care.
Have a healthy week