When I was going through my time with insomnia, sleep was something I feared as the sun went down. Man, the thought of going one more night without sleep haunted me daily at that time.
How important is sleep? I think it is fairly well documented that sleep is the most valuable tool for healing we have, so when we don’t get it, we don’t heal. Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased BMI, decreased performance both cognitively and physically, increased heart disease, hormonal imbalances, immune system dysfunctions, depression, anxiety and vitamin D deficiency.
I would say with confidence that sleep matters!
What Happens with Sleep?
When you sleep, your body goes through many processes to heal, recover and support all of your systems either directly or indirectly. The immune system relaxes and rebuilds, muscles and bones rebuild, detoxification occurs throughout the body from brain to circulation. Sleep plays a role in regulating mood, libido and appetite.
Sleep is also connected to better creativity, memory, and blood sugar regulation. That means if you are “sleeping” but not really, then you wake up and feel like a fifth grader can outsmart you!
So, if we look back at when I felt like crap (or maybe I am talking about you right now), how could I possibly heal if I wasn’t sleeping? How could I improve my sex drive and energy if I couldn’t sleep allowing these systems to recover? It’s simple, I couldn’t.After all, I wasn't deficient in Ambien!Click To Tweet
Sleep aids, both pharmaceutical and natural, worked but temporarily. After all, I wasn’t deficient in Ambien. No, my issues were deeper than what a Band-Aid could fix. Hormone imbalances and blood sugar imbalances were getting in the way. You see, these were what was actually causing my sleep issues.
The recommended optimal night’s sleep is seven hours. Yeah it varies from person to person but less than seven shows cognitive decline. Therefore, you need to be making sleep your night job.
Here’s how you do it:
- Shut off all electronics at least 45 minutes prior to bed time to help your body increase melatonin production.
- Make sure your last meal was 2-3 hours prior to bedtime. This allows the digestive system time to do its job, so you are prepared for the next job, sleeping.
- Write in a grateful log. Studies have shown that doing this decreases cortisol levels naturally allowing you a better night’s sleep.
- Avoid caffeine after 2:00pm
- Avoid sugar closer to bedtime as this can increase blood sugar causing a drop later, causing a roller coaster effect waking you up around 2:00am
- Be consistent. Go to sleep and wake up the same time every day.
- Take an Epsom salt bath. Not only is this relaxing, but the increased magnesium helps to relax the nervous system.
- Sleep in a bat cave. Any light can reduce melatonin production making it harder to fall asleep.
- Turn your phone into airplane mode. Any electrical frequencies or fields can cause disruption in your brain patterns. Doing this will also prevent unwanted text messages or Facebook messages to wake you.
Use all or some of these tips to get a better night’s sleep. If you still can’t find peace in bed, then stop wasting time and get some help. Sleep heals all, but if you can’t sleep then you keep feeling like crap and that’s no way to live.
Copyright: ocusfocus / 123RF Stock Photo
Rich Jacobs is a Board Certified Integrative and Functional Nutrition Practitioner who specializes in resolving gut, insomnia, low libido, fatigue and fat issues. He uses a holistic approach and functional lab work to identify root causes such as hormone imbalances or gut pathogens that could be impacting your health.