Category Archives: sleep
“Electricity, the widespread use of the light bulb, the discovery of fire, and the advent of agriculture, are a point of no return in human history. One hundred years ago, in 1910, the average adult was sleeping approximately ten hours a night. Now the average adult is lucky to get a solid six. We are meant to sleep half our lives and now we only sleep 1/3-1/4 lives. We develop heart disease, cancer, depression and diabetes when we do not sleep 9.5 hours a night at least seven months out of the year.”- T.S. Wiley.
1. Eat a blood sugar balancing diet:
One of the main reasons people wake up in the middle of the night has to do with a poor diet that is low in healthy fatsand adequate proteins. While working with my clients, I see that once they switch away from a low-fat, high carb diet they can easily sleep through the night without blood sugar swings. Lower carb and ketogenic diets have been shown to be helpful for sleep disorders and many other neurological conditions.
2. Have a technology free bedroom:
Have you ever been in a blackout or been camping and notice that all you want to do is sleep? Humans are hardwired to sleep when it is dark outside but during our modern lives we seldom experience darkness. If we keep smart devices out of the bedroom we improve sleep quality. This is a challenging for most people because we are using our I-pads and Kindle’s by our beds. These devices disrupt our primal circadian rhythms by putting out flashing artificial light. These signal to our brain that it is daytime which is why it is so hard to go to sleep once we start using a computer, tablet or iPhone late at night.
Wireless devices also emit electromagnetic frequency that is an additional stressor on our fragile systems that have so many other toxins to contend with. The full impact of EMF’s are slowly becoming evident in the mainstream, but surely spending 15-16 hours a day with your phone close to your side is enough. EMF’s can block the release of sleep hormone melatonin leading to insomnia. Many scientists believe that excess exposure to electro-magnetic fields can be linked to cancer, weight gain, infertility, birth defects, ADD/ADHD and migraines, and many other chronic conditions. A drastic step is to get rid of Wi-fi all together but at least make sure it is not in the bedroom with you and turn off your router at night to decrease EMF exposure.
Give your body a break and put your phone/alarm clock out in the living room. You will still hear it ringing and even better you will have to get out of bed to turn it off. Get an old fashioned wind up clock like this one, which uses no electricity or batteries. Be aware that plug in alarm clocks have red/green lights that can disrupt sleep. Cover the tiny lights on the TV or DVD player also. Your best bet is to plug everything into a power strip and turn it all off with one switch when you are going to sleep.
3. Go to sleep by 10 pm:
We can age 4 times faster when we disregard the day and night cycles. By staying up past 10 pm in artificial light our body thinks it is summer and craves sugar. We make extra cortisol when we stay up late making us insulin resistant creating a spare tire around our middles. If you go to bed past midnight you have missed two hours of the physical repair cycle which builds and preserves muscle. Staying up a little later in the summer is okay and how our bodies are designed. Below is a great video by Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness explaining why we need more sleep.
4. Do not look at the clock in the middle of the night:
The hormone dopamine is released in the brain when we try to figure out what time it is and we will stay awake an extra half an hour. Blinking lights like TV, computer, and mobile phones all signal to your body that it is time to get up. Checking your email or Facebook in the middle of the night will increase your stress and inhibit you from falling back asleep. Also try to avoid turning on the light when you go to the bathroom in the night.
5. Eat with the season:
Leptin is a very important weight regulating hormone that tells us when to stop eating. We are supposed to gain 20 or 30 lbs during the warm season to survive winter. When we get fatter than 20 or 30 pounds we lose leptin sensitivity, which would only happen in summer during most of human history. The abundance of carbohydrate foods all year and artificial light dulls our senses. We constantly crave carbs because endless day light from our homes makes our bodies think it is year round summer. If it is not summer it may be a good idea to lower your carbohydrate intake and when you do eat carbs let them be low sugar fruits like berries or nutrient dense starches like sweet potatoes or squashes.
6. Get black out curtains:
I have several layers of dark curtains over my windows to keep out the city lights. The tiniest bit of artificial light reduces melatonin by 80%. It has been shown that even small night lights can disrupt children’s sleep and cognitive development.
7. Sleep in earplugs and eye mask:
In the middle of the San Francisco there are constantly car alarms and people screaming at all hours. I won’t take a risk with my sacred sleep time. By using earplugs and an eye mask I have the best likely hood of staying asleep all night. Another consideration is your wonderful pet that can be disrupting your slumber. Finding restful sleep with or without your pet in the room will make you a better owner the next day. Babies are another story all together, but I do know that when following a nourishing WAPF/ Paleo/traditional diet, mothers and babies are more likely to avoid illness, food allergies and sleep better through the night
8. Read a real book before bed:
Mimick EMDR, by reading a real “paper” book makes your eyes go back and fourth which is very calming and this hypnotizing motion will put you to sleep quickly. Make sure to use a low watt light bulb by the bed not an overhead light which would simulate sun and confuse your natural rhythms. If you do use your laptop around bedtime it is a good idea to download Flux which will tone down the bright lights from your screen.
9. Avoid stimulants:
Do you reach for a coffee to get you through the afternoon? Caffeine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) which over time can tire out the adrenal glands and cause us to gain weight. Drinking caffeine after lunch will increase cortisol and make it hard for you to wind down for bed. Caffeine stays in the body for 12 hours which will disrupt the psychological repair portion of the sleep cycle. Most people I know (including myself) need as much psychological repair as they can get!
|Does 3pm coffee send you into orbit?|
10. Drink plenty of pure water
When we are dehydrated our body produces stress hormones that will keep us awake at night. I recommend drinking water all through the day so you are not playing catch up and then needing to go to bathroom at all hours. Choose a great water filter to remove heavy metals and chlorine. Always avoid plastic bottles when drinking water to reduce BPA exposure that can disrupt weight regulating hormones. The solution to pollution is dilution according to health guru- Paul Chek.