What prevents a good night’s sleep?
Can’t sleep? There are many things that impair one’s ability to sleep. Especially as weather changes, schedules change, and often our sleep health changes with the seasons as well. Some patients tell me they go to bed early and have difficulty waking up, others state they cannot “turn off their mind” and have too much stress to fall asleep at night, others awaken easily from a small light.
The most common complaint I hear is that night sweats, or need to get up to use the bathroom is a barrier to sleep. It’s actually fairly simple to improve sleep naturally. Did you know your nutrition can help in all of these scenarios? Here are some eating, lifestyle changes, and supplemental tips to improve your sleep. Remember, sleep is a foundation for your overall health. Keep reading to learn some natural sleep techniques and common supplements to help you sleep better.
- Eat a healthy dinner, and skip your late night snack
Reducing or eliminating sugar intake and processed food, especially late at night is the absolute first step you must take. Eat a high (healthy) fat, moderate protein dinner with low carbohydrate veggies for fiber and that wonderful “full” feeling that we all enjoy. Eating a dinner consisting of sautéed vegetables drizzled with coconut or extra virgin olive oil, and a side of avocado is a great meal. Remember that fruits are high in sugar, and our body is designed to burn that excess energy during the day, not before or during sleep, so stay away from the late night fruits also. My rule of thumb is ‘eat to perform.’ So, if you are eating during your busy day, a side of blueberries may be the fuel your body needs mid-day. However, late at night, your body is getting ready to perform sleeping resting and healing; therefore, no sugars or high carbohydrate foods which burn quickly as energy should be added here.
- Skip the sugary and stimulant beverages
Skip the wine, beer, or coffee. Did you know that wine or other alcoholic beverages might make you feel like you fall asleep fast, but they prevent your body from falling into the deep restorative sleep? Also, avoid coffee for at least 6 hours before bedtime. Any caffeine can prevent you from sleeping if consumed 6 hours before bedtime.
- Improve your circulation & Reduce Stress with 1 activity
Go for a 30-minute walk before dinner, or 1 hour after eating (wait at least 1 hour so that your food has time to begin digestion). This will help you to improve your circulation which improves brain function and can help you get a better night sleep because of the cooling of your body after the walk. Taking a walk outside and looking around at the beautiful environment around you can help you to turn off those stressful thoughts and enjoy life.
- Change your Environment
Turn off disruptive electronics including your wi-fi, you’ll be surprised to see how turning your wi-fi router off at night can improve your sleep. Also, be sure to turn off televisions and personal devices 1 hour before bedtime. This natural sleep technique can help with melatonin production, a sleep hormone which is triggered by light and darkness.
- Nutritional Supplementation
There are many supplements that help you sleep. Supplements like MinTran or Passion Flower may be ideal for you if you are having difficulty falling asleep due to stress. CALM or Cataplex G may help if you are having trouble sleeping due to circulation, or inability to stay asleep. Magnesium Lactate or Celtic Sea Salt may help if you’re experiencing cramps. B6 Niacinamide can assist in all of the above scenarios and is particularly useful if you are having difficulty staying asleep due to hormonal imbalance. B6 is a precursor to melatonin production and can help your body fall into a more healing and restful sleep. If you are waking up to the need to urinate, Solidago is one of my favorite supplements to help the body resolve this issue. Ultimately, discuss your sleep concerns with your practitioner and we will test your body to see which supplement is the right one for your body.
Healthy sleep and proper nutrition are essential for overall health and well-being. If you haven’t started on your journey to overall health, call and schedule your new patient evaluation today!
Yours in health and happiness,
Kristen Clore, OTR,
Nutrition Response Practitioner