In my 20 years of practice, I have found that most people don’t get enough sleep. They may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or their busy lifestyles don’t leave enough hours in the day for a solid night of zzzs.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should sleep 7-9 hours each night. If you’re falling short of that number, you probably feel tired, irritable and more prone to stress. What you may not realize is that over the long term, sleep loss can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system and increased chance of chronic diseases such as diabetes, depression and even cancer.
These steps can help you recover from too-little sleep and get back on track with the daily dose your body needs.
First, help your body repair any damage.
If you haven’t been getting enough sleep, your body may be running on adrenaline during the day. If sleeplessness is a chronic problem, your adrenal glands may run the risk of burning out. To help repair and build up your adrenals:
- Take a well-balanced adrenal formula that strengthens the adrenals, but doesn’t over stimulate them (overstimulation will make the problem worse in the long run). Our Adrenal Capsules are excellent for this purpose.
- Eat small, frequent meals containing protein every 2-4 hours. Avoid carbohydrates; their sugar content can cause spikes in your glucose levels which creates additional stress on your adrenal glands.
Manage your stress levels.
Constant stress is a classic cause of sleeplessness. That’s because stress causes your adrenal glands to go into overdrive, pumping cortisol and adrenaline into your system. While these hormones may provide the boost you need to respond to the demands of your day, the excess that remains in your system into the night will affect your ability to fall asleep.
So minimize your daily stress in any way you can, and take time out during each day to do something that relaxes you. Take the dog for a walk. Meditate. Do yoga. Drink a cup of tea. Take a warm bath. Whatever works for you. Even a few deep, relaxing breaths can help.
Adopt new sleep habits.
- Sleep in a cool, quiet, dark room. Darkness enhances melatonin production, a hormone that regulates sleep. If you need to get up during the night, try to avoid turning on the light. Even a few moments of light can inhibit melatonin production and make it difficult to get back to sleep.
- Go to bed at the same time every night to reinforce the regular rhythm of your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
- Avoid napping during the day. Naps can interfere with night-time sleep.
- Avoid stimulating activity after 6 p.m., including strenuous exercise, TV, computer and video games. Choose soothing activities instead, such as knitting or reading.
- Steer clear of using backlit devices such as an iPad in bed. They’ve been shown to cause melatonin levels to drop, making sleep elusive.
Modify your diet.
Your body’s sugar levels can make or break a night’s sleep. Fluctuations can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to fall back to sleep. These dietary guidelines can help stabilize your sugar levels:
- Eat small, frequent meals with protein—not carbs—every 2-4 hours during the day.
- Avoid alcohol. It is high in sugar and will interfere with the quality of your sleep.
Also limit your intake of caffeine to the morning hours.
Try these natural remedies.
These remedies can help calm the nerves, quiet anxiety, and help you fall and stay asleep:
- My favorite formula is called Tranquility. 2-4 capsules at bedtime can help you fall to sleep quickly.
- Another of my favorites is Cortisol Balance, which has shown to be quite helpful with staying asleep, especially for those that wake up at 2 or 3 a.m. It also has shown great promise in helping those to lose weight who need to by suppressing cortisol production (one of the causes of belly fat).
And remember: Take time to take a deep breath, smell the roses and enjoy the moment. We call it the present because every day is a gift.