Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
Sara Cook, Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach
With the monthly rise and fall of hormone levels and the changes our bodies make during pregnancy and menopause, itís no wonder that women are more likely than men to have difficulty falling and staying asleep. A recent survey by the Better Sleep Council indicated that almost 70 percent of U.S. women sleep less than the recommended eight hours per night. If you are not getting enough shut-eye, then take heed, because lack of sleep has been linked to increased health risks in a number of areas such as heart disease, obesity, and chronic fatigue.
So, why are women having trouble getting enough sleep? Stress from work or family, anxiety, illness, allergies, diet factors such as too much caffeine, sugar, or alcohol, are just some of the reasons.
We cannot completely control our stress levels, but we can try to slow down in the evening, relax or meditate for a few minutes, and prepare our bodies for a good nightís sleep. Nothing prepares us better to lead a productive next day than getting good quality and an adequate quantity of sleep.
Improving your quality and quantity of sleep
If you suspect you need to improve your quality and quantity of sleep, here are some hints for getting you the sleep your body deserves:
1. Get plenty of regular exercise and try to complete your workout at least 3 hours before bedtime. Exercise increases the amount of deep sleep you get. Aerobic exercise each day and weight lifting twice a week is optimum.
2. Avoid nicotine (this is only one reason you shouldnít smoke). Nicotine can lead to fragmented sleep if used close to bedtime.
3. Eat dinner 2-3 hours before bedtime.
4. Take 1/2 hour before bed to use for relaxing, such as soothing in a warm bath, meditating, reading a book, and/or listening to calming music.
5. Avoid products containing caffeine. If you have trouble sleeping, this is very important! Do not consume caffeine after 2pm if you have trouble sleeping.
6. Avoid alcohol close to bedtime as if can interfere with your sleep later in the night.
7. Avoid foods and drinks high in sugar. As your sugar level drops during the night, your sleep may be disrupted.
8. Establish regular times for bed and for waking.
9. Improve the sleep environment, i.e. comfortable mattress and pillows, quiet, dark, comfortable room temperature.
10. Donít drink liquids before bedtime. Drinking liquids before bed time could be causing you to wake up because you have to urinate.
11. Supplements can also help with sleeping.
The best approach to getting adequate sleep is to try the suggestions above. If these donít work, donít let this condition go unattended. Get a comprehensive natural medicine evaluation.
Other Reasons for Insomnia
Cortisol and Stress and insomnia
The stress hormone in your body that controls when you wake up and when you go to sleep is called Cortisol. Blood Cortisol levels are supposed to be high in the morning and low in the evening. The high levels in the morning help you wake up and the low levels in the evening help you feel tired in preparation for sleep. A patient recently came to us for insomnia.
He told me if someone could help him get a good nightís sleep, his life would be wonderful.
Upon testing his Cortisol levels, we found that his levels were exactly opposite of what they should be.
We did a Timminís Hormone Profile (Adrenal Stress Test) and found out that his Cortisol levels were too high in the evening. As it turned out, he ate almost all of his food at night. Eating late at night, for some people, can cause them to stay awake. We instructed him to balance out his eating times and that amazingly reversed the Cortisol problem. Guess what? His sleep patterns also improved. He was finally able to get a good nightís sleep!
Urinating During the Night
Many people donít sleep because they are urinating throughout the night. This could be because of too much coffee or fluid consumption at night. So stop it! Excessive thirst or urination can, though, be a significant problem called Diabetes Insipidus.
Diabetes Insipidus is caused by a deficiency in the hormone Vasopressin or Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH). This is one of the main hormones that helps the body retain the water it needs. If a person doesnít make enough ADH, then they may become chronically dehydrated. Diabetes Insipidus can cause dehydration, joint pain, vertebral disc dehydration, cartilage problems, dizziness, and fatigue. It is documented by urine and blood tests.
Do you have pain that is keeping you up at night? We that many of our clientís insomnia is due to pain. The best treatment we have found to relieve pain is Prolotherapy. If you have pain keeping you awake, then Prolotherapy could be the key to a good nightís sleep.
Adequate sleep is the key to good health! Make sure you get it!