Today’s topic affects so many people: It’s all about sleep. I’ll tell ya, sleep should be our #1 absolute priority. This should happen daily, naturally, and easily for us. Everyone needs sleep to be healthy. We heal when we sleep. We rest, digest, recover, rebuild, and balance hormones all while we sleep. Of course, if we can sleep better, our overall health will be better.
This can get very technical, but I am going to do my best to break down several factors and strategies that help improve our quality of sleep, including: diet, stress and environment, food, and supplements. If you apply several of these different strategies they will help you get a better night sleep.
What are the sleep guidelines? (3:47)
How many hours of night should we sleep? 8 hours is idea, but it is important to determine your ideal hours. We must also adhere to the Circadian rhythm, the natural rhythm of falling asleep when it gets dark out, and getting up with the sun. There are all kinds of sleep challenges, but there are two important questions to help you get better sleep:
1) Do you have a fall asleep problem?
2) Do you have a problem staying asleep (or waking issue)?
The Waking Issue (8:05)
If you have a waking issue, we treat these differently than if you had a staying asleep issue. When you wake up could be caused by a different part of the body:
- If you wake up between 11 PM-1 AM then that rings gallbladder issue.
- If you wake up between 1-3 AM this is indicative of a liver issue.
- If you are waking between 3-5 AM this is more indicative of a problem with your lungs. In these scenarios, the mind-body connection can also affect these parts of the body.
Mechanics of how we sleep (11:30)
As it starts to get dark, this signals your eyes, which sends a message to your pineal gland, whose sole responsibility is to release melatonin. Melatonin makes you drowsy and it helps you fall asleep. It is very important to produce this naturally. If it is bright or light out, the body will shut off the production of melatonin.
What are we doing differently that causes the body to stop producing melatonin? We are going to bed with computers in our hands, and these cause our sleep disturbances. Without melatonin, you won’t release growth hormone (an anti-aging body hormone), and other important hormones. If you are using medications (I am not telling you to get off the medication) or alcohol to go to sleep, you won’t produce melatonin, and you won’t go into REM sleep. We can develop healthier ways to naturally fall asleep.
How diet affects sleep (14:55)
The biggest part of our diet that interferes with sleep is sugar and carbohydrates. Eating sugar and carbs releases a hormone called serotonin–that is our feel good hormone, which gets consumed quicker when eating sugar. If we have a lot of sugar during the day, you deplete your ability to make serotonin, which creates melatonin.
Sugar, stress, and alcohol are also rapidly deplete magnesium levels. Magnesium helps us fall asleep, but it helps us stay asleep. I usually recommend 300-400 mg of Magnesium Lactate. It is a really easy to process for the body, and crosses the blood brain barrier a little easier than most other. Citrates are pretty good magnesium, but stay away from Magnesium Oxide.
If you lower carbohydrates, you lower sugar with a keto diet is a high fat, medium protein, and low carb diet than you can regain hormone balance. We need to help and develop our bodies to produce the building blocks of our health while we sleep.
Another precursor to making melatonin is tryptophan. This is an amino acid, which most people are deficient in for several reasons. The main reason is because we can’t digest it properly because of our gut health. Some of the best places to get Tryptophan are in turkey, red meat, eggs,, liver, nuts, and seeds.
Clinically, I often see that vegans and vegetarians often develop sleep challenges. When you take a whole food group out, like meat, you tend to eat more carbohydrates which then creates a sugar influence that decreases serotonin and then we can’t make the melatonin. Consuming red meat has always been part of the human diet, so I encourage you to develop a health strategy if you are a vegetarian or vegan that allows you to be healthy in a comfortable and easy way.
I encourage you to eat liver more because it is not only a great source of B-vitamins, but also offers to get us a great opportunity to get tryptophan. One of my favorite ways to eat liver is through liverwurst! If you want to be adventurous, we have an affiliate on our website called US Wellness you can order liverwurst from.
It’s not feasibly possible to get rid of all stress, but helping manage and compartmentalize our stress is important. If we are going to bed with our phones and keeping a busy mind, you won’t produce melatonin. You may also be exhausted during midday, but by 4 PM you may get a second wind. This may be a flag, indicating that you have an imbalance in your cortisol (Fight or flight hormone) production and release in your body.
The more stress you have, the more energy your body needs, so you produce more cortisol and want more sugar. To counter this, I use an herb called Kava. I only use a water-based Kava, which is safe and helps you shut off at night. If taken an hour or two before bed, Kava can help unwind things.
This is often overlooked, but these are the simplest strategies that you can start tonight, and get results. To get to sleep your environment needs to be dark, cool, and quiet. Any bright lights need to be covered or removed. We want to reduce how much we use our cell phones before bed. Try reducing your screen time by 1-2 hours before bed. Keep your phone out of the room, or at least minimum arm’s length away. These are important things you can use to immediately improve your sleep.
In Summary (30:36)
If you have a falling asleep issue you most likely have a stressed induced issue. You need to click the switch and start to unwind. You need to put electronics down and create a strategy that allows you an environment to slow things down a couple hours before bed. You may want to implement some of these herbs after dinner:
- Licorice root
- Kava Forte from Mediherb ( you have to get this through your medical provider if you find it online this is probably a blackmarket product.)
If you are having a hard time staying asleep, remember that diet is a huge role. Reduce the number of nights that we have alcohol or sugar before we go to bed so we don’t have the blood sugar stress in the middle of the night. You can also add 300-400 mg of magnesium supplements before you go to bed.
This is your chance to get a little bit healthier and improve your quality of life. Send this out to any of your friends that could benefit from getting a little more sleep.