Let’s talk about sleep!

As a health coach, I am always looking to help my clients improve their sleep!  Sleep is what I call a “Non-Negotiable” along with pooping and blood sugar balance.

Sleep is the answer to everything.

For beauty, skin health, hair growth, cell repair and restoration, reduced inflammation, immunity, balanced hormones, energy levels, mood, stress levels, eating habits… sleep factors into all of these.

I hear from so many women that they are just exhausted and worn out due to lack of good quality sleep. This can be a real problem especially in mid-life as hormones decline and sleep is affected.

People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation.  And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.

Tips for better sleep.

The biggest tip is to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority, and you’re more likely to achieve it. This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off.  Days. A. Week.  I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.

Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber). Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavored snack).  Make sure you’re getting some quality healthy fat, fiber and protein every time you eat.

Get morning sunlight!  By exposing your eyes to bright light early in the morning, you signal your brain that it’s time to suppress melatonin production. These things tell your body it’s daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening. So within an hour of waking up, get outside and meet the sun.  Even if it’s overcast outside, you’ll still get the benefits of the morning sunlight.

Stop your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12 pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimizing.  Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte.  Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).

Stop eating 2-3 hours before bed. Sleep is not meant for digesting your last meal but rather to digest your day. The closer to bed you eat, the more work you are giving your gut and that pull for energy to digest will result in a less restful sleep.  So if you are going to bed by 10, stop eating by 7-8 pm.

Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an actual (not “e”) book or having a bath.  is one way your body may respond to injury or illness.  According to Dr. Lam, “In a healthy body, the fire of acute inflammation is tightly controlled: it turns on at the right time to battle invaders and start the repair process, and just as critically, it turns off so that the body can get back to its normal functions. The turning off process is controlled by cortisol, our body’s anti-stress hormone.

Try a “meat pill” if you have trouble staying asleep. Waking up in the middle of the night is often the result of blood sugar dipping a little too low. A small snack like a slice of turkey or spoonful of nut or seed butter (pumpkin seed butter is my favorite here as, like turkey, it is rich in tryptophan) is often enough to do the trick. It doesn’t have to be a big snack, experiment a little to see what works for you.

Try supplementing with Magnesium or take an Epson salt bath. Magnesium a mineral that helps you relax, quiets your nervous system and aids in helping you get deep, restful sleep.  Magnesium is one of my foundation five supplements because Mg is easily depleted by stress and too much sugar so many women are low in this key macro-mineral.  You can also increase your magnesium rich foods like spinach, Swiss chard, cashews, flaxseeds, almonds, black beans, avocados and pumpkin seeds.