Your sleep habits matter! Nutrition is 80% of your health but the other 20% is sleep and lifestyle. For some people sleep and lifestyle effect more than 20%. Once nutrition is addressed it is important to look at sleep. Having insomnia, waking up in the middle of the night or only getting 4-6 hours of sleep really effects your health. I am sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this but hopefully it’s the first time you take it seriously enough to make changes to your nighttime routine.
Sleep is a hormone dependent process and with all the variables in our lives that can affect proper hormone balance (foods, toxins, artificial light, etc.) it makes sense that many people struggle with sleep. It makes sense that a common pregnancy and menopause symptom is sleep problems. Of course, my main focus in my work is women’s health but hormones do effect men also!
Too often I hear people say they are following mainstream thinking and taking pharmaceutical options to help deal with sleep issues. What I hope you realize is what that’s doing to your body and of course rules this out as an option in pregnancy. Sleep aids artificially augmenting the hormone system to induce sleep isn’t without its problems (just check out the side-effects and warnings list!) and can have an impact on other hormone functions as well. For my ladies TRYING to conceive sleep is a big factor in your hormone function.
Often, lack of quality sleep stems from one or more lifestyle causes. It is important to address these underlying issues as they can impact more than just sleep. When I work with clients for a 3 month nutrition package we address these issues and lifestyle changes in depth. For now, here are a few tips to help you start sleeping better.
Let’s start by setting the mood right:
Cut out the lights, make it as dark as possible in your room, get rid of the blaring alarm clock that tells you the time. You won’t miss it. You can set your alarm from your phone and place your phone out of reach! Cut your screen time out at minimum 30 minutes before bed. Ideally 2 hours before bed cut out any screen time. The blue light from screens wires your brain and makes it harder to fall asleep. Check out this free download from F.Lux to block out the harmful light form your electronics. Sleeping in a cool room is best, so keep the temperature as low as 58 degrees- max 65 degrees. The cooler the better.
Drinks before bed:
Once the mood is set, it’s time to take your 2 oz shot of tart cherry Juice followed by a magnesium supplement and head to your dark room with a cup of bone broth! The idea is to go to bed in enough time to get 8 hours of sleep, I personally need 9 hours of sleep to stay on top of my autoimmune symptoms. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day is also best. Really the routine is what helps your body know that “this” is what we do to go to sleep. I’m sure you’re wondering why tart cherry juice, magnesium and bone broth so let me explain.
Tart Cherry Juice:
Ongoing research shows that tart cherries are a natural source of beneficial phytonutrients. They are also a natural source of melatonin and are traditionally used to help relieve arthritis, gout pain and to help maintain heart health and blood circulation. You want to look for brands like this. They should be USDA Organic Certified. All-Natural Ingredients. No Preservatives. No Sugar Added. You take a 2 oz shot 30 minutes before bed to help you sleep more soundly and fall asleep faster.
Many people are magnesium deficient and don’t even know it. When we are under stress; our cells, which in their resting state contain magnesium, go through a change. Calcium, normally outside the cells, enters the cells and the calcium level becomes high and will contract and tense the muscle. The magnesium then pushes the calcium out of the cell and the cell is again in its resting, relaxed state. Think of it as an on-off switch. The “off” is magnesium and the “on” is calcium. But when we are deficient in magnesium, the cell that is not in balance so the “off” switch doesn’t fully turn off. That means calcium can continuously leak into the cells and stimulate cell activity. The result is stress accompanied by one or more of the magnesium deficiency symptoms.
Check out this blog on magnesium deficiency symptoms by Wellness Mama.
In short magnesium helps your muscles and nerves function properly; it keeps your heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system and also assists in keeping your bones strong. This essential mineral helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure and is required for producing and storing energy. It’s easy to see why many researchers say that nothing is as critical as magnesium!
TIP: You can mix your tart cherry juice with water and this magnesium mix (this works better for some people who don’t want to take a shot of cherry juice and the pill form of magnesium) I personally use a magnesium and bentonite clay supplement I buy through a Health and Wellness company online.
The final piece to this new nighttime routine is bone broth! I wrote a blog about the benefits of bone broth and you can check that out Here.
I find drinking my broth before bed is the easiest way to incorporate 8 oz of bone broth into my life on a consistent basis. Bone broth contains gelatin and collagen that help with deeper, more restful sleep. You will also find more magnesium in bone broth making it a double whammy! Even more interesting is that it contains Glycine.
This blog from “Kettle and Fire” talks about the importance of glycine in bone broth. Here is a snip of what they say about glycine.
“Glycine, an amino acid which is prevalent in bone broth, is a neurotransmitter possessing unique properties. Glycine operates through two different receptors, engaging in several functions in the central nervous system.”
“Glycine has long been known as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brainstem and spinal cord (1). It’s the primary neurotransmitter that inhibits sleep cycle motor neurons during active sleep (2). Taken before bedtime, it improves sleep quality, efficacy, latency, and reduces daytime sleepiness and fatigue in people who struggle with insomnia (3). Glycine elevates cutaneous blood flow, resulting in heat loss and deeper sleep (4).”
The goal of good sleep is to support our immune system, let our body and brain rest in order to start fresh the next day. Remember it effects your hormones, fertility, weight gain and memory.
No one is getting a gold star for functioning on 4-6 hours of sleep. Well maybe if you’re one of those biohackers who has figured out how to manipulate your genetics and take a million supplements to get your body to work off less. BUT you’re not!
I encourage you to try this for 21 days, see how you feel and I bet after a week you will see the difference from these healthy habits!
I am a Doula, Childbirth Educator and certifying Nutritionist. Essentially I am a women's health nerd. I have struggled with Autoimmune issues for the last 10 years, and more recently fertility issues. This along with my birth work, has driven me to self research. I have added a blog to my site in hopes of giving resources to clients or those interested in these topics. I would love feedback and comments.
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