Sleep is a huge problem and most people I speak to are looking for ways to improve sleep quality. It’s hard to find someone who naturally has consistent and truly restorative sleep.
Lying in bed while your mind races about how you wish you could be sleeping can be super frustrating… That’s why I created my 5 Secrets to improve sleep because sometimes even temporary relief can make a huge difference.
What most people fail to address is nutrient deficiencies and our body needs specific nutrients for optimal sleep so often nutrition plays a major role.
The way I see it, chronic insomnia or sleep disruptions just aren’t normal. There are a number of factors involved but sometimes it comes down to your body just not having what it needs. There are several connections between nutrition and sleep that are overlooked and I hope to expose those connections to you:
1. Blood Sugar
Blood sugar issues disrupt sleep big time, the main reason this happens is due to the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands during high-stress situations or when the body perceives an immediate crisis this can by physical or emotional. One of the primary actions of cortisol is to pull sugar from glycogen stores and into the blood so the body can use it for immediate energy to solve the crisis.
So if we are eating a high carbohydrate diet (pasta, potatoes, bread) that is constantly spiking our blood sugar, it can become hard for the body to regulate it. If you are someone who consumes a carbohydrate-rich diet and often wakes up during the night, you may want to address this first.
Try instead opting for a meal high in healthy fats (avocados, seeds), clean sources of protein (organic meat or plant based protein), and slow digesting carbohydrates (vegetables, sweet potatoes).
2. The Brain and Sleep
Good sleep is crucial for activating the glymphatic system of the brain. The glial cells are specialized immune cells within the brain and they help to clean up metabolic waste and flush it out of the brain and sleep is when this process takes place.
When we sleep we get rid of dysfunctional brain and nervous system cells and rebuild new neuronal connections. Sleep also allows us to reset the balance of neurotransmitters and improve the sensitivity of the neurotransmitter receptors. This is really important particularly as many people suffer with issues such as depression, anxiety, brain fog and poor memory these are related to reduced glymphatic activity due to poor sleep quality.
3. Nutrition and Sleep
The nutrition-sleep connection is not often made is the connections aren’t very obvious.
As mentioned earlier blood sugar issues are very common in our 21st Century lives and most people suffer with nutrient deficiencies and disorders in their microbiome. All of these conditions can affect sleep quality.
The body relies on chemical signals to properly regulate itself. This is via hormones, neurotransmitters, or proteins, the body needs to have the building blocks necessary to manufacture those chemicals.
For example, GABA is a neurotransmitter that signals the brain to relax and requires adequate amounts of zinc, vitamin B6, magnesium, and amino acids. To produce enough melatonin at night our body depends on tryptophan, this then needs all the necessary conversion factors to enable your body to make it into melatonin.
The two biggest things to address are to make sure you are consuming a super nutrient dense diet devoid of as many toxins (pesticides, moulds, heavy metals) as possible and that you have a healthy gut, otherwise you will not be able to absorb these critical nutrients.
Your gut health can influence your ability to get good night’s sleep. Poor gut health not only affects the absorption of nutrients needed to make sleep chemicals in the body, but can also damage the very tissues in the gut that produce these chemicals.
Your gut produces most of your melatonin (our sleep hormone) Gut health has been a passion of mine for more than 10 years and I truly believe it is tied to overall health and in complex ways that we do not even fully understand yet. I always start with the gut with any health issues, physical and emotional, including insomnia.
4. My top tips
Remove as many toxins from your diet and life as possible as they contribute to gut damage. This includes pesticides, heavy metals, moulds, fungus, personal care and household cleaning products.
Be proactive in healing your gut lining. Consume bone broth, and a high-quality probiotic on a regular basis.
Find out if you have any food sensitivities. It is possible that foods you are eating every day are damaging your gut. Common ones are eggs, dairy, nightshade vegetables, grains, and caffeine.
Although I wouldn’t consider a reliance only on supplements for sleep, there are some supplements that can improve the body’s own ability to induce sleep. We always need to look at lifestyle changes in conjunction with diet as sleep is a regulatory cycle in the body.
By taking supplements we improve the body’s ability to regulate itself, sleep can be improved over time and along with lifestyle changes we can improve sleep quality for all time.
I believe magnesium deficiency is one of the most insidious deficiencies of the 21st Century. There are numerous consequences of not taking in adequate dietary magnesium. It is utilized in over 500 different body processes, it fact it may just be one of the most important minerals in our bodies.
In terms of sleep, magnesium plays a critical role in regulating melatonin and GABA levels in the brain. Melatonin and GABA are released in healthy individuals to help induce relaxation and sleep. Without adequate magnesium intake, the brain may not be able to properly signal the body for sleep.
Research has shown that magnesium helps to balance blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and relieve physical tension. For anyone experiencing insomnia and especially those who can’t seem to shut their brain off at night, magnesium is my go-to.
I typically recommend Body Prime because it contains a form of magnesium that is clinically proven to have 80% absorbed into the body (most others are around 40%. I hear consistent feedback from clients about how well this magnesium improve sleep quality and helps to calm the nerves
5. Relaxation and Sleep Rituals
As bedtime approaches, align body and mind with the relaxing aromas of our tranquil blend of essential oils, perfect to help you prepare for sleep. Avoid bright lights at least an hour preferably 2 hours before bed, create a sleep ritual of relaxing and reading or meditating before bed and wake up and go to bed at the same time each day, this allows your body to create a cycle of knowing when to wake up and when to go to sleep. Relax and prepare for sleep with this great combo
6. Bonus Sleep HACK: Nature
Many of our sleep problems are a result of not being fully in tune with nature. We have a circadian rhythm that naturally coordinates our bodies with the cycles of night and day and whilst nutrition plays a huge role in helping the body regulate itself, there is another major deficiency that I believe affects most people and this deficiency is exposure to nature, natural light, natural air and being connected to the earth.
The benefits of being in nature are increasingly being proven and range from mood improvement, creativity, better immunity, stress reduction, and yes, even better sleep.
If you need help with your sleep or wich to discuss of your health with us, we are here for you. Please do get in touch