How do you feel aren’t sleeping well? Me? I feel useless. My coworkers probably agree that I am useless , I have increased anxiety and I can’t retain information. Yuck! That’s definitely enough to put anyone in a bad mood!
Yes, it’s basic. But like most basic things, it is essential. Here are some sleep tips (not) to follow. (Be sure to read the pop ups! The fun finishes at the 1:00 mark)
Laughter is also important for your mood, so lighten up! (Your mood, not your room, keep that dark). Sometimes the stress of trying to fall asleep is part of the problem. Here are some interesting sleep facts.
- Humans are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep.
- Some people can function and top capacity with only 6 hours of sleep, while others require 10. (How many hours do you need? What can you/ are you doing to make sure you get it?)
- Lack of sleep results to decreased production of leptin which is an appetite regulating hormone. Less leptin = more appetite.
- Chronic sleep deprivation can increase your risk of a mood disorder such as depression or anxiety.
- Whales and dolphins both fall half asleep. They turn off one hemisphere of the brain at a time so they can continue to go surface to breathe.
FOODS THAT ENCOURAGE SLEEP.
It’s a good idea to not eat right before bed. But if you are looking for a little goodnight snack, indulge in one of these foods.
- Grapefruit, tomatoes, papaya and watermelon. These foods contain lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that helps regulate sleep cycles.
- Cherries. Cherries contain magnesium (as does chocolate). Magnesium helps to relax your muscles and mind as you prepare for sweet dreams.
- Sunflower seeds, fish (salmon, halibut, tuna). These are high in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is a vitamin needed to make melatonin – the key nutrient needed for sleep.
Also, fish (halibut, tuna, cod, shellfish), along with barley, turkey and nuts. These foods contain selenium. Selenium is something that I’ve read in many sources that claims to help you sleep. It is required for the synthesis and metabolism of thyroid hormones; however, most people are getting enough selenium in their diet. It is a micro-nutrient and too much of it won’t be doing you any favours.
You have heard this term many times before I don’t doubt. Here are the basic principles:
- Your caffeine intake stops at 3:00pm.
- You get outside during the day, you are exposed to light and at best, even some exercise.
- Your room is dark and quiet and meant for sleeping purposes only. The only items you need besides a comfortable bed, are preferably clean sheets, a good pillow, and a good(ish) book. The book doesn’t even have to be good, it can be boring, that’ll put you to sleep faster. In all honesty, I sometimes read a thesaurus before bed.
- You have a bedtime routine that starts an hour before your actual bed time. Many people recommend a bath with some lavender soap or essential oils for relaxation, which is a good start. You know what relaxes you. Do that.
- You don’t drink too much alcohol. No alcohol is best. You will do what you do, but know that alcohol is not helping you fall to sleep, despite what you may tell yourself. Although alcohol is a depressant and it may help you to fall asleep initially, there is a rebound effect. After being asleep for a short time, you will wake up feeling unrested and you will not reach the deep sleep cycle that you would otherwise.
This is a great website that covers more on sleep hygiene. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/
SLEEPING SUPPLEMENTS/PILLS. (AS THE VERY LAST OPTION) Any time you start taking a supplement or pill regularly for something, there is a good chance your body will begin to rely on the contents of that pill to produce what it used to produce on its own.
Pills have their place, if you have tried everything else and just need a good sleep and need it now, then supplements or pills may be the option you choose. Don’t take sleeping pills unless you have already tried to go sleep naturally and you can’t. Use caution.
I recommend trying the more mild options first. Start low, go slow. Always check to see if supplements have any interactions with medications you are already taking. Consult your doctor if you have concerns.
Below are some suggestions of supplements you may wish to try before going for the prescription pills.
1. Valerian. Valerian is a root and acts as a mild sedative. It calms the nervous system by increasing the bodies available supply of gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). This reduces anxiety, induces relaxation and therefor helps one to sleep. It is mild so you shouldn’t wake up with the sleeping pill hangover effect which would defeat the purpose of taking the supplement in the first place.
2. Melatonin. Our bodies naturally make melatonin at night. It is important to have a dark room to stimulate its production. If your body is already making enough melatonin, then taking more of it will not help you. If you are low on melatonin, a small dose should be all you need. If you need more than 1mg of melatonin to get you to sleep, you may want to consider other methods. Taking too much melatonin may disrupt your sleep cycle.
3. 5-Hydroxytryptophane (5-HTP). This is an amino-acid that is a building block of melatonin. 5-HTP converts to the feel good hormone serotonin. Taking this supplement can be good for your mood and your sleep cycles. It may help you fall asleep quicker. It also may take 6-12 weeks to reach full effect. Again, be sure to check if these interact with any medications you are already taking. The last thing you need when you are sleep deprived is to start mixing drugs that aren’t meant to mix! Any questions, concerns, or comments please share!