Sleep remains a very curious lifelong necessity. Why do our bodies sleep, anyway? Great question – and also one I don’t know the exact answer to.
Many researchers are still trying to understand this perplexing habit and continue to learn more about it each day.
But what we DO know is that whatever the reason may be, we definitely NEED sleep. It’s one of the cornerstones of our health.
According to Dr. Mercola, interrupted or impaired sleep can:
Weaken your immune system
Cause a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you’ve already eaten – which in the long run can wreak havoc on your weight
Impair your memory – even a single night of poor sleep (4-6 hours) can impact your ability to think clearly the next day
Impair your performance on physical or mental tasks and decrease your problem solving ability
These are just some of the main negative effects poor sleep can have.
Some of you might be thinking, “Well I try and get enough sleep, but sometimes there are just too many obstacles in my way that I seem unable to overcome no matter what I do.”
Well let’s see if we can’t address one or more of your struggles below. First we have three of the most common sleep questions asked – complete with answers and ALL! Followed by that are tips on how to optimize sleep on multiple levels. I hope you find it useful and are able to learn a thing or two 🙂
A Little Q&A
Q: “Sometimes I really struggle to get up in the morning, even though I get to bed at a reasonable time. Why is this?”
A: Although you may be able to get enough sleep most nights, it is consistency that’s really important. Some people believe that they only need 6 hours of sleep a night and that’s enough, when in reality they may need a solid 9 hours to feel rested. If you’re getting 8-9 hours of sleep and you still feel lethargic, are you sleeping through the night? If not, be sure to see some of the other answers below; because not sleeping well through the night can also cause you to feel drained in the morning too.
Q: “Even though I stop ingesting fluids after dinner, how do I stop the need to urinate during the night?”
A: The culprit here could be one of a few. Drinking coffee, soda, or alcohol could be the issue, since they’re natural diuretics. You don’t even need to drink them in the evening for them to cause a midnight bathroom trip. Another culprit, suggested by Darlene Kvist, (MS, CNS, LN) is blood pressure medication. Many blood pressure medications include diuretics.
Q: “Even though I’m tired, sometimes my brain won’t shut off. I can’t relax enough to fall asleep…how do I quiet the chatter?”
A: Perhaps try eating a bedtime snack that includes a healthy fat and a carbohydrate. Some examples include blueberries with cream, half an apple and some almond butter, or half an avocado and some salsa. This combination of fat and carbohydrate will keep your blood sugar stable all through the night – because if your blood sugar crashes while you sleep it can wake you from a sound slumber.
Darlene has also suggested to her clients to taking 400-600 mg of Magnesium Glycinate (a highly absorbable form of magnesium). It assists bone health, relaxes muscles and nerves, assists with sleep (ding, ding, ding!!), helps balance blood sugar, supports normal blood pressure, and does NOT cause diarrhea.
You may also want to try increasing the amount of protein you’re eating – doing so can assist you in producing more serotonin, which will help regulate your sleep cycle. Then, if none of this helps, it’s suggested that you try removing gluten from your diet.
The Slumber Spot
Here are some tips on how to better prepare your slumber spot (most likely your bedroom) for a great night’s rest.
Sleep in total darkness. Or as close to it as possible. Even a small bit of light in the room can disrupt your internal clock. And by small bit of light, I’m talkin’ even things like the glow of your clock/radio. Keep your door shut, and your shades (black is best) pulled. If you get up to use the restroom, do your best to refrain from using any lights. Better work on your navigation 🙂
Make sure your room temperature doesn’t rise above 70 degrees F.Some people tend to keep their homes too warm. Studies show that optimal room temperature for sleep is 60-68 degrees. I know personally, I enjoy sleeping when it’s pretty cool. That way you have the option of bundling up as much as you like with blankets, etc. When you room is too hot, it can lead to restless sleep.
Move alarm clocks & other electrical devices away from your bed. Other examples of this are your computer and your phone. If you remove them from your view – it’ll help keep you from constantly wondering/worrying what time it is all night.
Reserve your bed for sleeping. If you’re used to watching TV or doing work in bed, you may find it harder to relax and drift off to sleep. So do your best to avoid these activities in bed. I’ve definitely found this to be incredibly true based on my personal experiences. SLEEP ONLY in the bed! You can watch infinite episodes of Friends and correct papers elsewhere 🙂
In terms of your behavior and routine before bedtime – here are some more helpful suggestions!
Keep a steady bedtime. You should make a point to go to bed and wake up about the same time every day. Yes, even on the weekends if possible. This will help your body get into its sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and get up in the morning.
Establish a bedtime routine. This could be anything that helps you to relax like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, aromatherapy, etc. This could be beneficial in just helping you relieve the tensions of your day.
Take a hot bath or shower before bed. When your body temp is raised late in the evening, it will fall at bedtime helping to facilitate slumber. The temperature drop will signal your body it’s time for bed according to Dr. Mercola.
Don’t watch TV right before bed. The reason for this is that it’s too stimulating for the brain, which prevents you from falling asleep quickly.
Journal. If you have the problem of lying in bed and listening to your thoughts race, it might be useful for you to write these thoughts down before bed – quiet your brain chatter a bit.
Listen to relaxation music. For some people, having natural or even just soothing sounds as background noise aids in sleep. For example – I used to have an app on my phone that I could set to play the sounds of a thunderstorm for as long as I wanted (1 hour, 2 hours, etc.) while I fell asleep. It actually worked well for me.
This is where LGN comes in! If you’re here doin’ our workouts, you’re already one step ahead of the good-sleep game. Know why? Exercising for at least 30 minutes per day improves your sleep! You just need to be sure not to exercise too close to your bedtime, or it may keep you awake. Studies have shown that exercising in the morning is the best. This should be more motivation to get your booty’s up at the crack of dawn for the 5:30 a.m. sessions 🙂 or even the 9:30 a.m.! Ever since I started the LGN program workouts, I’ve been sleeping hard as a rock. I barely wake up at all during the night, and my dreams have multiplied by at least 4 times. This is how I know I’m getting great rest!
Of all these suggestions, tips, and advice; I hope you found at least one thing you can take away and try applying to the area of slumber in your life! Since sleep is so imperative to our health and bodily functioning (and let’s be honest, our mood) – it’s worth putting in the extra trial and error attempts to find out what your body needs from you in order to reach optimal sleep each night. With that being said, sweet dreams, my friends 🙂