In the attempt to increase longevity and wellness and regulate weight as well, as look and feel younger, we know that eating and exercise are key but we often don’t include REST in the equation for wellness. I consider wellness a three legged stool, with the three legs being: diet and eating well, exercise and movement, and REST. If you eat well and exercise hard but don’t get the rest your body won’t recover and you will still gain weight even though you are exercising and eating.
What does sleep deprivation look like? Cells repair when we sleep. Sleep provides a slower pace for the body to reduce blood flow and secrete hormones for healing to occur. It is a time where it can get what it needs to feed the cell and excrete toxins. Not getting enough rest shortens the cell life and the blood gets toxic. We also know that our memory is reduced, our focus shaky, and our concentration can be little to none; the struggle with communication and reaction times. We know that tragedies like the Exxon Valdez and the New York subway train derailing were because of sleep deprivation.
Not sleeping and sleeping irregularly can lead to a vicious cycle that causes adrenal fatigue. We get wired and tired then we drink too much caffeine and not eat properly and that leads to crashes in our blood sugar and in our adrenal glands. Our sleep wake cycles, our circadian rhythms, regulate a variety of hormones including melatonin, thyroid stimulating hormone and cortisol. If we set those rhythms off we find ourselves fussing about our muffin tops and tossing and turning with insomnia and chronic fatigue. Adrenalin or epinephrine can bring about insomnia when out of balance and overstimulating.
Sleep deprivation can resemble depression and bi-polar because those transmitters can be imbalanced. It affects our long term memory, and studies have shown that it affects blood pressure, weight gain, diabetes, and the immune system becomes weaker. We know that it affects our hormones when we sleep and cortisol is the hormone responsible for belly fat.
So what is causing all the lost sleep and what do we do about it?
STRESS is an obvious thing that causes sleep to evade us, and what happens when we don’t get enough rest? More stress. Perhaps we have been under physical stress like maybe we’ve done a long hike or moved or had a surgery. Add mental stress that can cause us to ruminate, worry and obsess and then we can’t shut down which increases anxiety. Writing a splatter list before bed to get our thoughts and to-do lists out of our minds and on to paper can help our minds shut down and let go. Taking an Epsom (magnesium) salt bath with some destressing oils like orange and lavender can help you unwind as well. Magnesium is so often low in people and it is very key to sleep and keeping our nerves healthy and firing correctly..
CAFFEINE is another thing that causes us to have insomnia. Caffeine has half-life of 8 to 14 hours; so sensitive individuals would want to not have caffeine to close to bed time. It does stimulate the central nervous system and increase the heart rate. It also increases thirst and hunger and anxiety and insomnia are triggered. Ideally you would have your 1 cup early in your day and then eliminate caffeine after noon.
Eating too late. We get heart burn and gastroesophageal reflux disease and other digestive disturbances causes us to be to uncomfortable or they wake us when we are asleep. Sleep in America did a study on adults who experience heart burn or GERD and found that they were more likely to have insomnia or other sleep disorders. Be sure to be finished with heavy meals, fats and sweets 3 hours or more before bed. (contrary to that is my suggestion to many to have a small amount of protein~ before you go to sleep. A chocolate protein shake is ideal as it also helps my sweet tooth)
Schedules not aligned with our circadian rhythm continue the sleep deprived cycle. We get up before the crack of dawn, we eat late and we go to sleep late rather than moving with the natural rhythms of sun rise and sun set. Movement and sunlight during the day also helps reset our circadian rhythm not getting enough oxygen and sun light and moving to stimulate the lymphatic system and hormones and circulation. The most important part of a circadian rhythm reset is how much light enters the eye. Exposing yourself to bright light by day tells your brain, it is time to be awake and the darkness likewise should invoke sleep. This is why I find myself craving a camping trip, the natural rhythms of sunrise and sun set reset my inner clock to help me feel balanced again. This is what it takes to being having an easier time falling asleep and less chances of waking up through the night.
SYMPTOMS such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and other symptoms that cause insomnia need to be addressed in the effort to rest. Balancing blood sugar, eating protein before bed, taking a magnesium bath for restless leg syndrome; these are ways to alleviate symptoms that are causing our insomnia. Natural herbs and amino acids, chamomile tea, melatonin, 5 HTP and theanine are natural supplements that can be used to induce sleep as well as a part of our sleep hygiene ritual. Taking Magnesium in the form of tea, (Natural Calm is one of my favorites), can also sooth the body, relax restless legs or cramping muscles, help our headaches and hormones as well as induce sleep. You can also take a magnesium foot bath and use magnesium oil topically. Magnesium taurate and magnesium glycinate can also be tablets that can be taken. Magnesium oxide is best if there was also constipation present My favorite combo is found from IDLife’s sleep strips which has a tri-phasic approach to rest using melatonin, theanine and 5HTP in a sleep strip that goes under the tongue sublingually. This is a natural product that has three phases. One bringing you into sleep. One keeping you asleep through the cycles and then one bringing you out of sleep without grogginess. All conveniently packaged in a sublingual method without any side effects. Find it here: www.lauravann.idlife.com.
IDLife Sleep Strip
Light and Sound are a big reason why we can’t fall asleep when we get in the bed. We don’t unwind with the lights low and soothing music and we drive ourselves to the very last moment with computers and phone calls and taking care of the kids and so forth with no down time with falling in a sleep rhythm. Wearing amber glasses when using your computer up to three hours before you are going to go to sleep or even using them when you are watching television or using your smart phone can really help set the circadian rhythm by cutting the blue light. If we can eliminate the computer and electronics three hours before we sleep all the better.
Using light blocking shades and an eye mask will help to tell your body it’s time to unwind. Ear plugs and sleeping alone can help keep distracting noises from waking you up.
Poor Sleep Hygiene/No Sleep Routine Scheduling sleep and marking in breaks for rest and relaxationis key for getting our rhythms in line. Getting up at the same time and not only just going to bed at the same time but actually having a routine of sleep rituals to get you to unwind and slide into the sweet rhythms of rest and rejuvenation, is key to getting all the sleep we need.
Applying these principles will bring peaceful rest and balance into your life. Consider how long you have been struggling with sleep insomnia and how many symptoms or reasons you have causing it, and give yourself time to see results. Depending on how deep your insomnia is, determines how many of these different remedies you need to be having in play at one time and giving it the time it would take to heal your adrenals and your circadian rhythms. It’s all about considering your body valuable enough to take care of it and give it the care it deserves.