Sleep can be allusive for some folks. I always ask about a person’s sleep patterns, because, if you are not sleeping well, it can cause all sorts of imbalances in the body. It is extremely important that you get at least seven-to-eight hrs/night uninterrupted sleep so the body can recover completely and optimize wellness.
1. One of the essential steps is to try and go to bed at the same time everyday and get up at the same time everyday. The body really likes to be in a rhythm and therefore minimizes stress on the adrenal glands knowing what to expect.
2. Secondly, every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours after midnight. Again, this has to do with adrenal recovery. The adrenal glands are responsible to handle stressors throughout the day and react to them properly. Due to many people’s lifestyles, I find the adrenal glands are often compromised and/or imbalanced.
3. One of the most important causes of sleep disturbances is various components in what we drink.
• The one I most commonly see is coffee and black/green tea or Yerba Mate/Honeybush/Chinese or Rooibos teas. These are all acidic, which leach Calcium and Magnesium from the bones and can contribute to acid reflux/heartburn, but, are also stimulants, no matter when you drink them.
• Alcohol can also affect sleep. Again, it puts a load on the liver to detoxify and because the liver is most active at night, you will wake if the liver is weak or over-loaded.
4. Other compounds that can affect sleep are thyroid preparations, oral contraceptives-birth contol pills, steroids (including inhalers), beta-blocker medications for the heart, so, if you are on any of these medications and sleep seems to be an issue, you may need to talk to your practitioner and possibly switch medications.
5. Food can also affect sleep. Sugar and chocolate are stimulants for the adrenal, so, again, try to use these once in awhile.
6. Always be aware that any fast foods or refined/processed foods that have a myriad of chemicals also makes the liver work hard to de-toxify, so limit these as much as possible. Also remember that white anything-flour/sugar/pasta/rice/potatoes also act as stimulants because they release sugar into the bloodstream much more quickly than whole grained foods, so, again, act as a stimulant stressor and requires the adrenal to respond.
7. Another strategy that will help is to seek counselling to help you identify your stressors and learn techniques to handle them more effectively.
8. Use support for the adrenal gland, which is one of the organs that is responsible for sleep. Consider supplementing with ideal levels of Vitamin C and a B complex with B5 is essential. Herbs that support the adrenal gland are Siberian ginseng, Withania, Licorice, Holy Basil, Nettles and some of the calming herbs such as Lemon balm, chamomile, hops and skullcap.
9. Also consider using support for the production of serotonin that helps initiate sleep. One of the best ways to do this is to get sunshine or be outdoors for at least 30 minutes per day, preferably during your lunch hour. The sunshine hits the back of the retina that helps convert raw materials to serotonin.
10. Low night time blood sugar promotes waking. Therefore, ensure adequate protein in meals, especially supper.
11. Regular exercise improves sleep and helps the adrenals handle stressors more effectively without over-reacting, therefore, include 40 minutes in a daily routine and being outside would be the best.
12. Restless legs is a common cause of insomnia and is sometimes a folic acid deficiency. This can be an issue in those not absorbing their foods properly and/or have a caffeine sensitivity.
13. A simple and effective short term solution is Magnesium glycinate. This is a highly concentrated and absorbable form of Magnesium to help settle the system down.
14. Sleep apnea can also disturb sleep, not only the person with the apnea, but, their partners. One of the most common causes is being over-weight. Also, sinus and nasal congestion can often cause improper oxygen supply, so, doing a nasal wash on a regular basis will help.
Dr. Brenda Gill is a naturopath in Rossland. For an appointment call 250-362-5035.