Sleep Solutions For The Best Sleep Ever
Do you toss and turn all night, are you crabby during the day or do you just wake up tired? Have you ever wondered how to get a better night’s sleep? These are all signs of not getting enough hours of sleep or not getting sound sleep during the hours you are “sleeping”. I know that sometimes it’s hard to prioritize adequate quantity and quality of sleep, so in this article I will provide some sleep solutions for you to get a better night’s sleep!
One of the most undervalued or overlooked tools in which you can invest is the understanding of sleep solutions. Sleep is one of the most often ignored yet basic elements of your body’s healing process. In fact, sleep is so essential The Guinness Book Of World Records does not allow people to break records for sleep deprivation because of its dangerous effects. This article will provide you strategies on how to get better sleep. By applying these sleep solutions you will able to help keep your body and mind performing at their best!
Why Is Getting Enough Sleep So Important?
There is a direct correlation between your health and welfare and the quantity and quality of sleep you receive. Without adequate sleep you may experience:
- extreme fatigue
- low energy
- cravings for sweets and sugar
- overindulgence and generally eating too much throughout the day
- decline of cognitive function (because of not sleeping 8 hours per night)
- tripling the danger of disease resulting in death (which can be directly attributed to insomnia)
These points highlight why getting the right quantity and quality of sleep is so important.
Why Do You Need Better Sleep?
- The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found not getting at least 7 hours of sleep can lead to feeling of anxiety, poor mental clarity and problems focusing.(1)
- According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine athletes who got extra sleep significantly improved their athletic performance while reporting increased energy, better mood and decreased fatigue.(2)
- Sleep loss and pathogens can increase brain inflammation and sleep deprivation.(3)
- An article in Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience suggested that sleep deprivation impaired memory, attention and affected sleep related brain synapses.(4)
- Not getting adequate sleep can also affect young adult men in as little as 5 days. Within 5 days of sleep restriction it can increase cortisol/stress levels decrease sex hormone production and facilitate physiological changes that increase your risk of Type II diabetes.(5)
- There are unique benefits from sleep such as improved insight, creativity and cognitive function. (6) It suggests, for example, your brain needs sleep time to process memories and gain insight through their correlation and relationship. This process could affect your understanding of them and qualitative resultant behavior. Therefore, the research suggests there is a helpful role for sleep in brain function.
How Do You Get Better Sleep?
Studies have also shown that quality is actually just as important as quantity of sleep. Maybe even more so. Below you will find some of the best natural sleep solutions that can offer you the right amount of good quality sleep resulting in maximizing your energy, immunity, brain function and performance!
Melatonin is the main hormone we want to support with these sleep solutions. This important hormone is secreted while you sleep. If you’re not getting enough high quality sleep, it’s likely that you’re not producing enough melatonin. It is melatonin that helps repair and detox your cells as you sleep essential for staying healthy and performing at your best. There are some foods, supplements and habits that can really help boost melatonin production:
- Try eating a handful of pumpkin seeds or walnuts 1-2 hours prior to bedtime.
- Try valerian root, passion flower, chamomile tea or a magnesium supplement and then track their effect on your sleep. (Many times simple sleep solutions like the right supplements and herbs can impact your sleep very quickly.)
- Another sleep solution is wearing glasses that provide blockage for what is called “blue light” (such as Gunnar Glasses) 3 hours before going to bed. Let me explain…
Turn off your TV, iPad, phone and computer at least one hour before bedtime. You might think you are winding down after a busy, fast moving and stressful day, but the flickering and bright light on the screens suppresses melatonin production and causes irregular stimulation of the retina.
When your brain senses “blue light” (daytime), it signals the pituitary gland to secrete less of the hormone Melatonin that governs your wake and sleep rhythms. A sleep solution you can use daily to avoid exposure to this “blue light” before bedtime is to have a barrier from its effects: as examples, use eye glasses that close off this light and download f.lux on your computer. These barriers can help boost Melatonin secretion by 70%. I do both of these in my home in the evening; I also dim the inside lights and use specific light bulbs.
This type of stimulus is transferred directly to the brain through the optic nerve and disturbs the normal function of the hypothalamus, the control center for many body functions, including the initiation of proper sleep patterns. Try picking up your favorite book or magazine and chill out to a light read by candle light to promote maximum relaxation.
2. Kick Those Pesky Bad Carbs
Let’s now talk about nutrition and its effect on how to get better sleep.
- Carbohydrates spike insulin in the body which in turn drive cortisol higher. (Cortisol is a stress hormone that should be the lowest at night.) This could disrupt the body’s normal sleep cycle.
- When the body uses sugar as a source of fuel it is not able to use fat. The body cannot use both fat and sugar at the same time. Your sleep solution is to keep sugar and carb intake very low at night.
- Healthy fats are essential to repair and rebuild hormones for the next day. But, if you are consuming a high carb count before bedtime instead of consuming some healthy fats, it can negatively affect all hormones. Carbs at night can cause our bodies to become catabolic (this means our body is breaking down and not repairing and rebuilding hormones). Getting a little of coconut oil in your tea or taking fish oil before bed can help prevent this catabolic affect.
- When proper sleep solutions are followed, in certain stages of sleep the body can repair/heal hormones and also the immune system. In a catabolic state the body may choose to break down muscle for fuel leading to weight gain, fatigue, weakened immunity and poor brain function.
3. Eat Foods For Rebuilding While You Sleep
Try to add these foods into your diet, as there is a powerful connection between what you put in your body and how to get better sleep.
Healthy fats are great: try a tablespoon of coconut oil in some valerian root, passion flower or chamomile tea right before bedtime. To get better sleep the body may need good nutrition and fuel to repair the damage you did during the day. Consuming healthy fat and some antioxidants can help your body remove toxins, fight free radial damage, reduce inflammation and help with hormone production as you sleep. One of the key sleep solutions is to avoid sugars, grains and unhealthy fats such as hydrogenated vegetable oils and trans fats.
One of the most common reasons people can’t seem to fall asleep is stress. We’ve all had nights where, as we lay lie down to sleep, our minds are still running a 100 miles per hour. Some sleep solutions can be tougher than others, but reducing stress is an essential of how to get better sleep. A general rule of thumb: the better your energy is during the day, the better you will sleep. Although in our current culture there are many types of stress–physical, chemical, nutritional and emotional–don’t let this discourage you from trying some of these natural sleep solutions:
- Deep breathing – breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold that breathe for 7 seconds and then slowly exhale for 8 seconds. Getting better sleep may be as easy as breathing deeply. This sleep strategy can be a great solution because it increases oxygen. Increasing oxygenation has many benefits beyond reducing stress and sleeping.
- Meditation – meditating before bedtime can help slow down the mind and help you relax.
- Technology – In the evening, avoiding blue light on your phone and computer are powerful sleep solutions, especially when coupled with brain.fm. This app has settings for focus, sleeping and relaxation by listening to certain types of sound; it can trigger your brain to enter different brain wave frequencies to get better sleep.
5. Use The Power Of The Sun
Sleep solutions like getting outside can be extremely fun! Make sure you are getting adequate sunlight during the day. Adequate sun exposure helps synthesize vitamin D to ensure healthy cell function. Use these sleep solutions and strategies to get better sleep and energy during your day:
- Don’t fear the sun! There is a direct correlation between responsible sun exposure and melatonin levels. This is not surprising, since bright light is known to increase SEROTONIN production, preventing depression. Make sure upon rising to get outside or turn on all lights in your home to stimulate the brain. This may not sound like a sleep solution but it is, by waking up and getting exposed to sun it helps balance the normal circadian rhythm of the body. This is a great strategy to get better sleep.
- Don’t be irresponsible and burn your skin either (you can help avoid this through natural non-toxic sunscreen, shade, and wearing protective clothing such as hats, long sleeves/pants and sunglasses). Observe any personal sun limitations. Getting outdoors can helps promote the normal sleep cycles.
- Grounding-the process when your feet hit the ground and the earth. Grounding can be a very effective method for getting better sleep. Remember the last time you came home after going to the beach for the day? My guess is you slept amazing! When grounded to the earth, it lowers our stress hormone cortisol and can allows us to get in deeper states of sleep.
How To Get Better Sleep (And Final Thoughts On Sleep Solutions)
Again, I can’t emphasize this enough: start utilizing some of these natural sleep solutions immediately. Do your best to stop looking at technology screens at least 2 hours before you go to bed as the blue glow from electronics blocks melatonin production and even stimulates cortisol production. These are not supportive of better sleep. These solutions can have a huge impact on your sleep, energy, immunity, mood, brain function and health. Here are a few more reminders:
- Wear Gunner glasses after sunset. Wear these in your home and if you are watching TV to block the blue light.
- Use the f.lux an app for computers as it automatically reduces the blue light on your screens after sunset.
- Avoid exercise and big meals 3 hours before sleeping.
- Keep your bedroom completely dark and temperature optimized around 65-69 degrees Fahrenheit
- Track your sleep to understand your sleep habits and patterns. A great sleep solution can be the Oura ring.
- Practice gratitude upon waking and before bed. Very simply write down the 3 things you are grateful for upon rising and before bed 3 things that happened that were amazing. This is simple but powerful.
- Consider your Chronotype. Are you a bear, wolf, dolphin or lion? This basic quiz can show you how to get better sleep by answering questions about your unique biological clock.
- Advanced Testing: Sleep can be complicated sometime testing is necessary to determine the cause of your sleeping problems. Possible tests to consider would be a functional adrenal stress profile: it evaluates adrenal glands and can even give you levels of melatonin. Adrenal testing is most accurate through urine or saliva and should be tested multiple times a day.
- Another sleep solution is to test for biotoxic mediated illness. Many times toxins like mold, VOC’s and others can affect the HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) axis of the body. These biotoxins can wreak havoc on sleeping patterns. Current research suggest biotoxins can be present in urine and even discovered through visual testing.