Sleep is essential for our health and healing! Unfortunately, today many people have trouble sleeping or they prioritize other things above sleep. We stay up late to “get important stuff done” and sacrifice our health in the process. Did you know that getting less than 6 hours of sleep affects your blood sugar regulation? Lack of sleep can also cause negative effects in your physical performance, mental health, and many other things.
Here’s the thing…there is nothing more important than sleep. That is when your body heals itself. The less you sleep, the less you will heal; this is a biological fact you cannot override. You need a minimum of 8 hours every night, and 9 is even better. There can be many reasons for some people not being able to sleep. Adrenal fatigue, toxic metal accumulation, stress, deficiencies of calming nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and zinc, poor diet choices, electromagnetic stresses, and other imbalances all can play a role.
Calcium, magnesium, and zinc are among the “sedative” elements. They are needed to relax the muscles and nervous system. Difficulty sleeping can arise when the hair tissue levels of these minerals are low. This can cause muscle tension and irritability that can interfere with rest and sleep. Difficulty sleeping can also occur if the hair calcium and magnesium levels are elevated above the ideal, but the levels are low in relation to sodium and potassium. This is called a four highs pattern and is associated with a lot of stress, and perhaps muscle tension as well.
Insomnia is also common when calcium and/or magnesium become bio-unavailable or when there is a copper imbalance in the body. Copper has a stimulating effect on the brain, causes the mind to race, and it also excites the emotions. High copper individuals often stay up late and have difficulty falling or staying asleep. Insomnia before the menstrual period can often be due to elevated copper, as this tends to occur just before the menstrual period in young women.
Suggestions for Healthy Sleep
A hair analysis test and Nutritional Balancing Program are the only real long-term solutions to balancing your body’s chemistry, which will greatly aid you in getting a good night’s rest. However, there are also other sleep remedies you can try that will help your body get ready to rest each night.
Get to bed no later than 10 p.m.
Going to bed too late is an important and overlooked cause of insomnia. What occurs is that as one becomes more tired, often around eight to nine o’clock, the sympathetic nervous system becomes more active in order to keep a person awake. When one finally goes to bed at 11 pm, one cannot fall asleep easily, or cannot stay asleep because the sympathetic system is activated.
There is also a cortisol release. If you have any adrenal dysfunction, your cortisol may be spiking at night, giving you that ‘second wind’ around 11 pm. If that is the case, you need to catch the wave of rest before it crashes and keeps you UP!
Another reason to go to sleep early is that our organs and internal systems go through their state of rest and repair as we sleep. Between 7 pm and 9 pm is the time to slow down. Do not sit at a computer before bed, avoid stimulating conversation and avoid strenuous activities in the evening. Eat dinner early, by 6 pm or 7 pm at the latest. These suggestions will also help assure that the sympathetic nervous system does not become active before bed:
- Pericardium (7 p.m. – 9 p.m.). This is one of the accessory organs systems. To support the pericardium, this is the time to do something gentle to help you ease into sleep, such as meditation, light stretching, reading, or cuddling. Reduce physical or intellectual stimulation and activities after about 6 pm, ideally. Relaxation exercises, deep breathing, meditation, or soft music before bed may be very helpful. Keep computers off after dinner and do not engage in exercise or any stimulating activity at night. A warm bath, a little yoga, foot reflexology, a short massage of your shoulders or back, use of a chi machine or a very gentle walk might help a lot as well.
- Triple Burner (9 p.m. – 11 p.m.). This is the second accessory organ system. We should be in bed and asleep during this time.
- Gall Bladder (11 p.m. – 1 .a.m.). Physically, the gallbladder stores and excretes bile, but emotionally, it is in charge of self-esteem and decision-making. If you’re not sleeping by this time, you are depleting your gall bladder’s energy stores, which over time, may lead to poor self-esteem, poor judgment, or difficulty digesting fats.
- Liver (1 a.m. – 3 a.m.). The liver performs many essential functions related to digestion, metabolism, immunity, and the storage of nutrients within the body. It also filters, regulates and stores blood. If you’re not sleeping at this time, you can quickly become deficient. The liver is also emotionally connected to anger. You may find that you wake up between 1 am – 3 am if you have repressed anger or long-standing resentment. Symptoms of liver imbalances include irregular menstruation, anemia, chronic fatigue, and headache.
Try to go to bed at the same time every night (even on weekends).
The body likes patterns and regularity. Simple tip for healthier hormones and weight management?
Go to bed the same day you get up. – Cherie Ross
Sleep in complete darkness
Keep your window shades drawn and cover ANY light in your room. Your digital clock, your night-light (for your kids’ sake too!), and even that tiny little red light that is on your TV or VCR that tells you that it is “off.” Any exposure to light can turn off melatonin production (which you need to sleep).
Here’s the quick and dirty version of why: if your eyes open in the middle of the night, you see a light; that light hits your retina which sends impulses to your brain. Your brain sends those light impulses to your pineal gland (which is located right behind your eyes), which causes your pineal gland to determine that it must be DAYTIME, and shuts of melatonin production.
If you think about the way we used to live – way back in the day – what sources of light would be subjected to after the sun went down? Candles? Fire? That’s about it. Today, we’re soaking up the light from televisions, computers, devices, overhead lights, electric billboards, and more. Once the sun goes down, your body gears you for sleep. Complicated chemical reactions and electrical signaling happen (or are supposed to) that create the necessary conditions for quality rest. However, when you’re subject to artificial light after dark those processes are interrupted. Everything goes haywire, and quality sleep is not achieved.
A cool sleeping environment is often better than a hot, stuffy room. Some people find a fan very helpful as well.
Turn off all media
At a minimum, don’t fall asleep in front of the TV! Truly, the stimulation of computer screens and even your Kindle sends your brain the message to STAY AWAKE vs. GET SLEEPY.
Turning off media also helps reduce the amount of EMFs (Electromagnetic fields) around you. We are around WI-FI, telephones, computers, etc…all day long. At night, let’s rest our body and the exposure to these fields to allow the brain to relax and also the glands to have more repair time (the thyroid especially).
This means: get your phone out from under your pillow when you use it as an alarm clock! Ideally, have your phone at least 3 – 5 feet away from your head. The same goes for outlets (if possible.) Turn off your WI-FI in your home at night. If you want to take it to the extreme, you can even buy ‘grounding’ sheets to help ward off the negative effects of EMFs.
Have a little protein an hour before bed
If you tend to wake at about the same time most nights, it’s not because you have to pee. It’s most likely due to a blood sugar imbalance. The dip that happens in the middle of the night, around 2 am or so, can wake you. Having an easily digested protein before bed, like a small piece of chicken or turkey, or almond butter, can help stabilize your blood sugar and allow you to sleep through the night.
While a heavy dinner may impair sleep, a light dinner or even an evening snack with protein can enhance sleep, especially for those who wake up at night. Some people need a little protein and fat in the evening. Otherwise, blood sugar fluctuations in the middle of the night may wake them up. This is especially important for those who have hypoglycemic tendencies – when the body’s blood sugar level dips, the brain will wake up to make sure you eat something.
However, try to drink most of your liquids before 5 p.m. Drinking too much after this may cause you to get up to pee during the night, distracting you from a good night’s sleep.
- Certain scents may help sleep in some people. Try experimenting with essential oils such as Lavender, Valerian, or Peace and Calming from Young Living.
- A chi machine can be great just before bed. This is a machine that sits on the floor, and you place your ankles in cradles on top of the machine. When activated, the machine gently moves your legs back and forth, relaxing the spine and the entire body.
- A cup of chamomile tea, valerian root tea, or Sleepytime teas can help
- Supplements can also be very helpful. Calcium and Magnesium can be taken a ½ hour before bed, and you can also take more if you wake in the middle of the night. This reduces sympathetic nervous system activity. Other supplements that may be helpful are 5-htp, GABA, and Melatonin.
- A sauna before bed can also be really beneficial. When you raise your body temperature just before it’s time to go to sleep and then let it fall when you go to bed, it helps you sleep.
- Rubbing the feet (foot reflexology) – is very helpful for calming the nerves and help to restore the natural energy flow in the acupuncture meridians of the body. Pay more attention to any area that is tender or painful. A reflex point on the soft area about the middle of the bottom of the large toe (slightly nearer the inside of the toe next to the second toe), appears to be specific for assisting sleep and rest.
- Leaving the days challenges behind you is also most helpful. Don’t take problems and worries to bed with you. Each evening, think and say, “This day is now complete. I turn everything over and release the body this day.”
Take these suggestions and utilize them to create yourself some kind of bedtime ritual so that your SLEEP can equal REST.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine Organ Times by Lyndsay Wareham, ND February 17, 2013
- Narcolepsy, Sleep Apnea and other causes of insomnia © December 2009, The Center For Development
- Insomnia by Lawrence Wilson, MD © May 2011, The Center for Development
- Five Critical Mistakes Robbing You of Amazing Sleep by Kevin Geary March 31,2014
- Five ways to reverse autoimmunity that have nothing to do with food, August 3, 2014