Are you struggling to fall asleep? Struggling to stay asleep? Are you waking up Exhausted? What about crashing around 2-3pm in the afternoon? Are you waking up between 2-4AM and cannot get back to sleep? Are you tossing and turning? Are you snoring? Are you waking up with a headache?
Wow, that was a lot of questions - a lot to think about.
IF YOU SAID YES to any of these questions –
Our lifestyle has a great impact on our ability to not only regulate sleep, but to get restful sleep. Our body is supposed to regenerate 330 BILLION cells each night while we are sleeping and resting. The necessity of cellular regeneration is to ensure quality blood cells getting to our vital organs, reducing inflammation, reducing the risk of cancer cells developing, aiding in metabolism, brain power, muscle recovery… okay - in reality cellular regeneration is required for our body to WORK and to work efficiently. Sure, we can get away with the body working at 70%, but this is not quality and it will not provide longevity.
RESTFUL and EFFICIENT sleep is required for proper cellular regeneration. What does that even mean?
7-9 Hours (8-9 is actually optimal) of pure sleep. This means we should have 100-120 minutes of REM sleep per night. REM sleep is our deepest phase of sleeping. REM means Rapid Eye Movement. This is when we actually have physical rest. It is vital in healthy brain development.
So, how do we get to this amount of REM sleep if we are struggling with sleep or if we said YES to any of the above questions? How is our day to day life affecting this?
When our workload is too much - When our stress levels are up - When our body is in a constant state of fight or flight our sleep cycle will not be optimal.
Do We Have Control?
It seems that we don’t as we cannot stop being a stay at home mom. We cannot stop being a working mom of three. We cannot stop being a husband. We cannot stop the financial concerns (to some extent). We cannot stop being a brother, sister, coworker, daughter, etc. We cannot just stop working.
We Do Have Control.
I mentioned that we may not be able to change the stressor that is going on during the day or the “workload” per say, though we can change how our internal stress axis is reacting to the stressor. We can change our Cortisol response.
Cortisol is a stress hormone released from the adrenal glands in response to acute stress. It is important. It is our arousal hormone. It saves us from the thing that is chasing us or fighting us. The issue is when the cortisol release is constant because of chronic stressors. This causes our entire stress axis (Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis also known as the HPA Axis) to go on overdrive. It is stimulated constantly. This affects several hormones that come from the brain and adrenal glands.
Constant cortisol release can lead to interrupted sleep cycles, higher blood sugar levels, abdominal weight gain, fatigue, headaches, hormonal changes, loss of muscle mass, leaky gut syndrome, and more. It is really toxic to our body when the levels are too high and on constant release.
Now, let’s come back to the point. If our workload is too much, there is a good chance we are not sleeping through the night or we are having daytime sleepiness because of this abnormal cortisol response. I already said there are a lot of things to do with our “workload” that we cannot particularly change, though I said shortly afterwards that we do have control. How?
The Control –
We can help our body to regulate the stress response, the HPA Axis, and the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands by doing a few things:
- 1Blood Sugar Stability through diet - It is vital to ensure stable blood sugars throughout the day and night to help reduce cortisol release. This means consuming a lean protein every 2-3 hours during the day after waking and reducing simple carbohydrates (breads, pasta, rice, beans, potatoes, corn, sweets, fruit) to breakfast and/or lunch. Always pair a carbohydrate with a protein! Try to stick to complex carbohydrates like vegetables with protein at dinner to lower cortisol levels in the evenings.
- 2Practice stress relieving activities like yoga, pilates, moderate exercise, meditation, reading, and writing. These activities are different for everyone - find the one that takes you to your happy place.
- 3Exercise - but not too intense. Exercise is important for cortisol regulation, mood stability, serotonin regulation, and blood sugar stability. TOO intense of exercise is harmful as it causes too much cortisol release. Find that balance.
- 4L-Theanine - this is an amino acid that is extremely beneficial to reduce the cortisol response, meaning that less cortisol is released in times of chronic stress. This is in a supplement form and should be taken on an empty stomach.
- 5Sleep Hygiene is extremely important. It is ideal to have your last meal 2 hours prior to bed, that you perform techniques to wind down the last two hours of the night without blue lights or screens, that you get in bed to SLEEP and only to sleep (not watch TV or the ipad!).
- 6Daily Sunlight - this is very important for melatonin production. Melatonin is vital to help the brain to get to sleep, specifically deep sleep. It is very important to get at least 10 minutes of daylight and ideally while grounding (walking with your feet in the grass without shoes on).
- 7Check your Magnesium Red Blood Cell Level - Magnesium is very important for melatonin production, relaxation, calming the muscles, and for blood sugar regulation. The serum Magnesium does not tell you the whole picture. Ask for your red blood cell magnesium level to be checked and make sure it is between 5.0-6.0. Not all magnesium supplements are made equally - contact BHW to find out more!
By starting with these simple tips, we can better control our cortisol levels. These tips will also help blood sugar stability, melatonin production, serotonin regulation, and magnesium levels which will also impact our sleep cycle.
If your workload is too much it can be difficult to find time to focus on you. These tips, however, can be life changing as you will be able to regenerate healthy cells more efficiently which will reduce your risk of disease and will increase your longevity.
Try it out. Contact Berman Health and Wellness to have your blood work checked and to find out how we can help you reach your goal weight, improve your gut health, sleep, and energy today! 239-431-0232 or email email@example.com - mention this blog for 10% off a program!