Days are getting longer and we are slowly starting to wake up to spring. This is the perfect time to re-assess our habits and get more energized after a long and cold winter (for many of us). Our energy is guided by our circadian rhythm which influence our cortisol levels, melatonin production and adrenals. Their optimum functioning is necessary to balanced blood sugar levels (responsible for energy and cravings), our hormones (helping with weight and emotional balance), neurotransmitters and even our gut health, besides so many others functions. As everything is linked to each other, if one part is not balanced, something else will give in and that is when dis-ease sets in. One of the most important parts to having good overall energy and health starts with good quality and quantity of sleep. Below are 6 tips to improve both.
Good sleep starts in the morning
Basically, getting up early in the morning and getting some daylight will increase your cortisol levels needed for energy. It is important that the cortisol levels stay elevated during the day and decrease at night so the melatonin can increase to provoke healthy sleep. Good health is based on this circadian cycle of cortisol going up during the day and decreasing at night to allow melatonin to increase inversely.
Sleep Tip Nr 1:
Get out in the morning for 15 minutes. If you can, walk or work out at the same time for added benefit to get some exercise.
Right food, right times
We all can agree that healthy food will help your digestive system to function better and allow for better health and weight and ultimately help your sleep. Prefer organic food, lots of healthy veggies and fruits, quality protein from sustainable sources, healthy fats, nuts and seeds and good carbs such as pulses, unrefined grains. Avoid processed foods, sugar, and foods you may be sensitive to such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy and maybe even eggs or some vegetables. Make sure your food contains probiotics for optimum gut health and Omega 3. If not obtained through food, supplement with good quality probiotic, Omega 3 fish oil (or a vegetarian Omega 3 source) and a good Multivitamin may be a good option.
Sleep Tip Nr 2:
Have more protein and fats with lots of veggies and less carbohydrates for your breakfast and lunch. Do not skip breakfast or other meals, have veggies for snacks. This keeps your blood sugar more leveled. At night, you can add a bit more carbs to your protein, fats and veggies to increase your melatonin. This free a sample menu is a perfect way of eating for maximum energy.
Rid yourself of sleep thieves
Remember, I mentioned the cortisol-melatonin connection? When cortisol is high, melatonin is low. Melatonin is needed for sleep. There are a few things which keep your cortisol levels up, predominately this is caffeine (that’s usually coffee, tea and certain sodas). If you are severely fatigued and can’t live without your coffee, chances are you need to stop drinking it as it has played havoc with your circadian system and needs to normalize. Go cold turkey or wean yourself off with the help of green tea (less caffeine). I have done it and even one of my clients managed to get from 6-8 cups to 0 with amazing benefits. Your cortisol should decrease during the afternoons, so if you drink coffee at that time it will counterbalance the natural cycle.
Sleep Tip Nr 3
Quit coffee altogether or at least no coffee after 3 pm. Try Teeccino or Dandy blend which taste similar to coffee without caffeine.
Bono does it
The melatonin production is severely hindered if there is blue light (Emitted by electronics such as phones, computers, TVs and artificial lights) at night. Avoid all electronics 2 hours before sleeping and dim your lights. When going to bed, no electronics should be in your bedroom, or at the least put them in airplane mode as the emitted waves affect your sleep too. Your bedroom should be used only for S&S (I let you guess what that stands for)
Sleep Tip Nr 4
Wear yellow glasses at night, like Bono does. They diminish the effects of blue light.
Sleeping tablets no more
There are a few herbs and supplements which may help with sleep. Some are easily obtained as a tea such as chamomile, valerian, lemon balm and passionflower which all are relaxing and generally sleep promoting. Find a “sleep tea” containing some of these herbs and see what helps you best.
You may want to try 5-HTP, GABA or L-tryptohpan which can help with melatonin production.
Magnesium is a great relaxing mineral, I use a Magnesium citrate spray before going to bed.
Just remember, all herbs and supplements should always get approval by your healthcare practitioner as they may interfere with any medication or certain conditions. We are all different and what works for one does not always work for the other. On a side note, in general, I do not recommend Melatonin as a supplement or sleeping tablets.
Sleep Tip Nr 5
Ashwaganda is a very powerful adaptogenic herb which is often recommended for relaxation and good sleep.
Prepare for good sleep
Rituals are the Nr 1 way I turned my health around. Establish a sleep routine and follow it religiously. Put some relaxing music to tell your mind it’s sleep time. Always sleep at the same time and go to bed early, your best sleep is between 10 pm and 2 am. Put the temperature low and sleep in a complete dark room. Calm down all activities at least 1-2 hour before bedtime. Include some time for cuddles or more. Find more amazing rituals in my free guide.
Sleep Tip Nr 6
Take a few minutes to meditate, visualize, breathe deeply or journal. Use what works best for you but chose one practice and repeat it every night.
Practice good sleep during spring and beyond for long-lasting health. Please share your favorite sleep tip below.
Andrea Caprio, CTNC, CCWC
Founder and CEO of Wellness Methods