If Only I Could Sleep…

How did you sleep?  Remember the days when sleep was something we expected to happen, no strings attached?  I used to just get in bed, and drift into dreamland and wake up the next morning. Time passed, kids happened, owning my own business happened and stressful adult stuff happened.  YES, times changed.  I know I am not alone because I now ask my friends the question, “How did you sleep?” more than ever before.  It is a common problem – we can almost all relate.

This week we explore the science of sleep, how to improve it, heal it and make it available to you again, once and for all.   We all know when we sleep, everything else becomes easier to handle.  We are free, at ease, and radiant in our lives!

Sleeplessness can often times be a sign of adrenal fatigue, yes stress, you know it.  This creates quite a conundrum since sleep is necessary to support adrenal function.

The cute little adrenal glands are not only considered the stress managers of the body, but they are also in charge of producing sex hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.  When we are placed in stressful situations (which can happen on a daily basis for many of us) our adrenals are stimulated and secrete the hormones adrenaline and cortisol.

The surge of adrenaline creates a short-lived fight or flight response.  Following the adrenaline rush, cortisol is secreted to help subdue the effects of adrenaline.  Cortisol is also released in response to excess insulin production and low blood sugar.

When we are chronically stressed and consume poor diets, our cortisol levels remain high, which can lower both serotonin and melatonin levels in the body, the very hormones responsible for sleep.  Eventually, the adrenals burnout and become fatigued, resulting in low cortisol levels, which may ultimately lead to more disruptions in sleep.

The 4 top sleep rituals will provide you a nourishing sleep environment and then, the 5 top sleep supplements will help you lull off to sleep with ease. 

Sleep ritual #1:  Light

Did you know that your melatonin levels are super sensitive to light?  Melatonin (your sleep hormone) levels increase each day as the day light begins to diminish.  This is the reason we are a bit sleepier in the winter than we are in the summer.  When your melatonin is stimulated in the evening, and you start to feel tired – GO WITH IT.  Interrupting your sleep with unnecessary light can be just the culprit responsible for your sleep disruptions.  Dim the lights or light candles at night as you unwind and prepare for bed, then it’s “the darker the better” once you go to bed.

Check this out:  Even your digital alarm clock, your night light, the full moon, or the hall light can be disrupting your melatonin cycles.  Studies show if you make your room darker, you will sleep deeper.

Interesting Fact:  The green and white lit alarm clocks are actually brighter than the red lit versions.  Get yourself a new red light alarm clock to keep your melatonin levels happy.

Sleep ritual #2:  EMR

Electromagnetic radiation is a huge issue of our time.  We often clutter our sleep environment with to many EMR producing devices.  We are known to sleep with our phone beside our bed, our computer plugged in on the bureau, and the alarm clock balancing out the other side of the room.  Consider a EMR bedroom cleanse.  Get your devices OUT of the bedroom.

I personally have chosen to plug my phone in the other room (unless my teen is out late or I have a friend in labor) and keep my computer out of the bedroom.

Sleep ritual #3:  Unwind Your Beautiful Self

Do you watch TV right before bed or get caught up on those last few emails.  Are you staring at a screen all evening long?  If so, consider taking the last 30 minutes before bed to UNWIND.  I know it is hard to stop these habits, but this will make a huge difference in your nights sleep.  If your nervous system is constantly stimulated, you will have a hard time relaxing into deep sleep.

Try taking a bath, reading a book, doing a guided meditation or even a little restorative yoga.  Give yourself some quality down time at least 30 min before bed.

Sleep ritual #4:  Watch those Little Sleep Devils

They are sneaky, and often sweet, but they can really mess up your sleep rhythm. You probably know them well as do I.  Wine, sugar, and chocolate.  I know it can seem like bad news at first, but you can probably say you’ve known it all along.  To much of these little sleep devils and … a bummer night of sleep.  Waking up at weird hours with a jolt, restlessness, hot flashes…You know what I mean?  Keep those little sleep devils at bay.  A little – maybe.  A lot – you may regret it!

Need a little boost?  Here are 4 awesome NATURAL sleep remedies to check out.

Tryptophan or Melatonin

Melatonin is secreted by a number of body tissues, including the pineal gland, gastrointestinal tract, and the retina of the eye.  The production of melatonin, specifically from the pineal gland, is triggered by darkness and inhibited by light.  Since sleepless nights could be a result of faulty melatonin production, and not necessarily adrenal fatigue, taking this hormone, or its precursor (tryptophan), in supplement form may be beneficial for your weary eyes.

GABA

GABA, also known as gamma-aminobutyric acid, is an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter, promoting sleep and relaxation.  GABA also addresses anxiety and busy mind therefore settling the mind and helping you settle into a deep sleep. Kava kava, valerian root, American ginseng, and tryptophan may enhance the effects of GABA.  Theanine, an amino acid found in tea, may increase GABA levels, creating a calming sensation.  Adequate vitamin B6 in the diet can also support GABA production.

Vitamin C

Who knew? Vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients in adrenal metabolism.  Cortisol production is reliant on the availability of this essential nutrient.  Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant within the adrenal cortex.  When picking a vitamin C supplement, be sure it is coupled with bioflavonoids and comes from a whole food source, such as acerola berry.

Ashwagandha Root and Leaf

Ashwagandha, an ancient Indian herb, has both anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic properties.  In terms of adrenal function, ashwagandha normalizes cortisol by either lowering or raising it, depending on the levels present in the body.  Because of this action, ashwagandha is considered very useful in treating adrenal fatigue. Also, it has been shown to promote sleep without causing sluggishness.  This herbal remedy is commonly found in either tincture or pill form at your local health food store.

It is time to sleep, repair, and regenerate.  The darkest hours have always revealed our shadows, our worries, our imbalances and what we have lurking under the bed so to speak.  With a few adjustments to your sacred sleep space and your internal cellular world you too can drift into dreamland once again…

 

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