Ep. 125 – Sleep Strategies to Get Your Best Night’s Rest
October 13, 2020
In today’s episode it’s just going to be me and we are going to talk all about sleep; your body’s house cleaning service.
Table of Contents
What is sleep?
About 30% of your life is spent sleeping. To all of you grinders who think that it’s a waste of time – I want you to think again! Sleep is what helps you prepare and recharge for the daily grind. It’s what helps you maximize your cognition and gives you the dedication and drive in energy to get through your day to day life.
Think of sleep as your superpower against grinding into the ground! Sleep is your best friend to make sure you have a healthy mind and body. Sleep is actually your body’s free house cleaning service.
What do I mean by this? During sleep, damaged and destructed red blood cells and cells in general, and toxins are removed within your body, which plays a crucial role in combating and reducing inflammation.
Lack of sleep can negatively affect your hunger levels by increasing ghrelin hormone and increasing fatigue. This can lead to increased cravings, lack of control with food, as well as decreased satiety with your meals. It can also increase your risk of developing chronic diseases like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. No bueno. Low sleep or poor sleep quality can also promote inflammation, decrease recovery, inhibit optimal thyroid and sex hormone production, and decrease your immunity.
So, sleep is extremely important because not only is it going to impact your overall health, but it’s also going to pack your overall vitality. It’s going to help you not just survive, but to thrive.
How does sleep work?
Sleep is more than just laying in bed. It depends on the quality of your sleep.
There are essentially four stages of sleep:
- Stage one. The lightest and shorter stage of sleep. It lasts just a few minutes, your heart and your heart rate, and breathing slow down and your muscles relax.
- Stage two. This remains a light sleep which lasts 4-7 hours, 50-60% of your sleep. It involves further lowering of your heart rate and breathing. But here, your eye movements stop.
- Stage three. Deep sleep, where your heart rate and breathing are at their lowest points. Your body is rebuilding and repairing, as well as secreting growth hormone, to rebuild your immune system. Helping, healing, and repairing your body by eliminating cells damaged by oxidative stress and inflammation. About 10 to 25% of your total sleep is in this stage. Lack of stage 3 sleep results in morning fatigue, grogginess, and pain! This is where sleep talking, sleepwalking, night terrors, or bedwetting can occur.
- Stage four. This is your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and is all about dreams and your brain. The body is temporarily paralyzed, your brain is working at its highest capacity. This stage is important for filling your long term memory. Eye movements and irregular breathing are common in this phase. REM sleep is during the second half of the night, any early rising or cutting off of your sleep will inhibit and drop the amount of REM sleep that you get.
Deep sleep and REM sleep are your best friends.
Fitness trackers and apps are not very accurate in tracking your sleep cycle.
What does sufficient sleep look like?
Everybody’s bodies are different and have unique needs. In general, most people function best with 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Some crazy people can get away with 6, but I don’t suggest it. Other people need about 10 to 11 hours.
What can go wrong with your sleep
- Hormone imbalances
- Thyroid disorders
- Gut infections
- Nutrient deficiencies and poor diet
- Adrenal imbalances (cortisol dysregulation)
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Mold toxicity
- Undereating and dieting
- Poor liver health
Tips to fix your sleep
Fix the basics involving nutrition, environment, mindset, and supplemental changes first.
- Cut off blue light from electronics at least two hours before bed. Blue light can disrupt your circadian rhythm and inhibit melatonin release from your pineal gland that helps relax you prior to sleep.
- Stop the use of electronics within 30 minutes prior to bed. Even without blue light, electronics keep you wired and can make you unable to sleep.
- Have a consistent sleep time and sleep routine. Eventually, you may be able to wake up without an alarm clock this way!
- Optimize your bedroom environment. Keep your bedroom 65-70 degrees F. Use breathable sheets like bamboo or silk and invest in a comfortable, nontoxic mattress and pillow. Use black out curtains to minimize light, and use white noise machine to block out other sounds.
- Avoid caffeine after 5pm (or even sooner). Caffeine can be in your blood for up to 8 hours! Figure out what works best for you.
- Watch your liquids and aim to drink more water during the day instead of right before bed. Get at least 3/4 of a gallon in before 4 pm. If you’re still getting up to pee during the night, it could be a sign of something else going on (adrenal imbalance, mold toxicity, electrolyte imbalance).
- Monitor your medication timing. Some meds can keep you wired or increase adrenaline in the body (T3, SSRIs, corticosteroids, Excedrin, beta blockers). Other meds can make you sleepy! Speak with your doctor or healthcare professional about when to take your medicine.
- Focus on food. Try eating a complex carb snack before bed with 15-30 g protein and/or a high quality fat source at least 8-10 g to help boost serotonin levels in your brain and keep blood sugar balanced. Blood sugar crashed during sleep can cause an early cortisol spike which can lead to early rising. My favorite pre-bedtime snack is a bowl of oatmeal with a scoop of PE Science protein and about a tbsp of almond butter. Protein pancakes and waffles are good too!
- Try adaptogens or cortisol-reducing supplements or herbs. These can be extremely helpful with cortisol imbalances that may disrupt your sleep. My favorites include: Magnolia, L-theanine, Lemon ball, Reishi mushroom, Valerian root, ashwaganda (can be stimulating for some people), phosphorylated serine, or a high quality CBD oil (full spectrum and high dose). Glycine, magnesium glycinate, 5-HTP, and l-tryptophan may also be helpful. Know that these things may not work for you, because everyone is different. Also be sure to look up potential interactions since herbs often interact with medications. (5 HTP should not be taken with SSRIs, ashwaganda should not be taken if hyperthryoid). I suggest getting help with deciding what to take.
- Try adding in melatonin. This supplements what your pineal gland is already producing. Start low around .3 mg, and increase up to 10 g. Melatonin needs are person by person specific, so find out what works for you. If you wake up feeling groggy, then you took too much and should drop it down! Melatonin also plays a potential role in increasing insulin sensitivity, and can be powerful to negate circadian rhythm dysregulation from night shifts and jet lag. Melatonin is also known to help with immunity. Dark cherries and tart cherry juice are good sources of natural melatonin.
If you’re still having issues with sleeping after trying these recommendations, you can sign up for a sleep study to assess your sleep and breathing. You may have sleep apnea and need a CPAP machine.
Coming soon… I am coming out with an incredible sleep supplement for you guys! My supplement line will be coming out, and my listeners and dietitians will receive a specific discount for you and your clients!