10 Tips for a restful sleep!
You are definitely not alone Sleep disorders account for 70% of visits to GP's (half for insomnia & half for fatigue/tiredness) An estimated $40 million is spent on sleep medications every year in Australia Sleep problems underlie 9% of work related injuries, 8% of depression cases, 7% of motor vehicle accidents & 3% of diabetes diagnoses Insomnia is a serious business!
Here are my 10 tips for a good night's sleep:
Be consistent - that means are regular sleep/wake cycle
Avoid caffeine from around lunchtime
Keep nicotine & alcohol away from sleep time
Take regular exercise but at least 3-4 hours before bed
Eat only a light meal during the evening
Keep bedroom temperature cool
Reduce fluid intake during the evening to avoid the need to urinate during the night
A small tryptophan rich snack before bed may help - banana, turkey, egg, pumpkin seed, cashew nuts, cheese & wholegrain oats are good sources of tryptophan. Tryptophan is required for the body to produce serotonin. When serotonin levels are low, melatonin levels will also be low. Melatonin is the trigger for sleep. (More info about this is below)
Create a routine that gradually gets the body ready for sleep, turn off electronic devices, turn lights down, have a relaxing bath (not too hot), have a chamomile tea. All these things will tell the body it's time to start winding down.
Use essential oils to calm the mind & aid sleep. I use a blend of lavender, cedarwood, marjoram & vetiver. I have this blend diffusing in the bedroom all night & I dilute it in a carrier oil to smear on the back of my neck & the soles of my feet. This strategy usually works wonders for me. Until just over a year ago I would wake every hour.
You may have heard about electronic devices affecting sleep but maybe you haven't heard why it causes problems, so here is a brief explanation of how the Sleep Cycle works.
Sleep is induced by the secretion of melatonin in the brain. Secretion is cyclical.
Secretion begins at around 9.00pm
Secretion ceases at around 7.30am
Deepest sleep occurs at around 2.00am
There is a master clock in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus and this controls our circadian rhythms by receiving information from the optic nerves about light levels. When light levels outside reduce, more melatonin is triggered to be secreted by the pineal gland resulting in sleep. This provides a natural cycle for sleep but many aspects of modern life interfere with this cycle, such as artificial lights, & shift work. The cycle can also be interrupted by watching television or using a mobile phone or computer before trying to sleep. These devices provide 'blue light' which suppresses melatonin secretion - BANG! No sleep! So all those devices should be off at least one hour before bed time.
How stress can affect sleep.
The body is required to react to stress to survive. In a dangerous situation a number of reactions occur in the body to shut down less important functions in order to concentrate on those required for either fight or flight. For example the digestive system closes down so that the energy used for metabolism can be used for flight. Adrenalin, noradrenaline and cortisol are produced in a surge to increase the heart rate, blood pressure and provide glucose to the brain for quick thinking. This surge in cortisol and adrenalin makes it difficult to sleep. Obviously it would not assist survival if the body was allowed to sleep during a crisis. Normally when the danger passes the surge of adrenalin and cortisol subsides and bodily functions return to normal. However in the case of chronic stress, adrenalin and cortisol are produced continually so that eventually adrenal fatigue occurs, leading to chronic diseases. The production of adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol requires many of the same vitamins and minerals as the conversion of tryptophan to melatonin.
Production of Melatonin
As I mentioned before the production of melatonin relies on the presence of serotonin which relies on tryptophan. Chronic stress depletes Vitamin C, B5, B6, zinc and magnesium, all of which are required to convert tryptophan to serotonin to melatonin. So you could eat all the bananas & turkey you like but if you are chronically stressed you won't have all the vitamins & minerals you need to covert tryptphan to serotonin to melatonin. On top of that deficiency of B5 leads to shrinking of the adrenal glands which can also lead to sleep disturbance.
Finally tryptophan can also be used by the body to form B3 instead of serotonin. B3 is used for energy production which is far more important to survival than sleep so B3 will always be used for energy before serotonin. Therefore if there is a deficiency of B3 serotonin production will be bypassed - yet another cause of poor sleep.
I am a Mindset Mentor & Coach, if stress is affecting your health I can help you Change your thinking to Change your LIFE!
I provide individual coaching packages & workshops. I am also an experienced speaker on a range of health topics including Self-Care, Stress, Chronic dieting, Overeating, Binge Eating, Immunity, Digestion & Fatigue.
Pam Bailey is a Feel Good Facilitator, Helping Women Feel Good Every Day
Nutritionist, Eating Psychology Coach, Life Coach & Heal Your Life Workshop Facilitator.
She is an International Keynote speaker & workshop leader & also provides private coaching via Skype & in person.
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