Reader Question: I am looking for some ideas on how to fall asleep more naturally. As of late, my routine has consisted of either taking something such as unisom or drinking some wine. It seems that I have now made a mess of the situation as I cannot get to sleep without doing one of these tings.
I am so thankful that this question was asked… this reader is not alone, in fact I have found that my husband and myself are unfortunately in the same boat. Although I can blame my sleep issues on pregnancy, most of us cannot and my ship is quickly sailing away on blaming my sleep issues on hormonal imbalances.
Sleep issues can be the result (symptom) of many health issues. Everything from hormonal problems to Circadium Rhythm issues can keep us as mammals from falling asleep and staying asleep at night. Unfortunately, in the great U.S. of A. sleep problems are almost expected let alone considered normal. However, as the rate of disease and illness continues to rise amongst us all (as stated here by Harvard Med), many people are starting to get concerned that not getting enough sleep is actually causing them to suffer in life.
Below is a round up of some of the easiest ways you (and I) can improve our overall sleep which will only improve our health and lives for the better!
1. Turn down the lights – So many of us are checking our phones or turning off the T.V. just seconds before asking our bodies to shut down for the evening. This may seem to be more productive for us, but it is in fact severely causing our bodies to be confused and stressed. Our bodies were created to have this amazing tool hard wired within us called a Circadian Rhythm and it should be working WITH our bodies to adjust to light and sound in a way that helps our bodies ease into and out of sleeping. It is almost as if we have a natural alarm clock built into our brains. So whats the problem then? When we over stimulate our bodies (with light and sound) during times that is not natural, it changes the way our body functions, specifically it’s Circadian Rhythm. The best way to allow your Circadian Rhythm to work it’s magic is to turn down lights and sound for about an hour or so before going to bed. Taking time to read or go for a walk are both great ways help your C.R. work to the best of it’s ability. Another tip would be to switch out the bed side lights in your bedroom with these wonderful lights.
2. Balance your sugar, eat some fat – Although not sex hormones, hormone production plays a crucial role in our sleep. The best was to provide the ideal environment for these hormones to be produced is by giving your body all the tools necessary to do so. By eating healthy fats such as avocado, coconut oil or eggs, your body will be ready and willing to get busy making all the necessary hormones for you to fall asleep. In terms of staying asleep, avoiding sugar is key to keeping your blood sugar balanced so that there are no spikes and/or dips while you sleep. This will also help you wake up better in the morning. In fact, if I eat sugar before going to bed, I tend to wake up with a headache.
3. Pop the right pills – Despite all of our efforts, sometimes we need a bit more assistance to fall asleep. When these seasons of life do occur, it’s important to be taking the right supplements/pills. The best way to supplement your sleep is with Melatonin and/or Valerian Root. Melatonin is a hormone (like the ones we talked about aboce) that regulates your Circadian Rhythm (also talked about above). This supplement is a great starting point for someone who is committed to changing their sleep issues in a natural ways. Valerian Root is a natural anti-anxiety supplement that often helps people “turn off their minds” so that they can fall asleep. Of course, check with your doctor before starting any supplements.
4. Stay Hydrated – I’ve written before about the importance of drinking enough water here. I wish I could stress to you just how important it is to be properly hydrating your body. Water intake plays a huge role in hormone production and as we have stated, hormones really rule your sleep. Without enough water, your body can’t properly make hormones. When your body isn’t making the proper hormones, your Circadian Rhythm is disrupted. When your Circadian Rhythm is disrupted, your can’t fall asleep and stay asleep. See how it all works together?
I highly recommend that anyone who wants use these natural sleep solutions to change their health really commit to giving your body a good 2 or 3 weeks to show signs of improvement. I know that taking sleeping pills offers much faster results, however they also wreak havoc on your body in more ways than you know. It is also important when making changes such as these that you take note of all the big AND little things you notice taking place. This may be waking up without a mild headache, only waking up 1x a night rather than 4 or even the amount of time it takes you to get to sleep.
Do you have a hard time falling or staying asleep?
If so, what are your go-to ways to help combat your sleep problems?