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Do You Even Enjoy Your Sleep?

by Carly Neubert, BA, NC on March 02, 2016
Do you even enjoy your sleep?
It's hard to find anyone who doesn't love a good night's sleep; but what if you have a hard time even getting to sleep in the first place? So many of us put such little effort into making our sleep effective and enjoyable! The quantity of time that you sleep isn't nearly as important as the quality of sleep that you get. Let that sink in... OK, now keep reading to figure out how to get more restful sleep!

The Anatomy of Good Sleep

Have you ever laid in bed and tossed and turned for hours on end? If so, then you know the agony of defeat when you have to get up in the morning without feeling rested or rejuvenated. 
Good quality sleep must include the REM cycle. Your body doesn't get into the REM cycle unless you have been through the other 3 cycles and have slept for at least 90 minutes. If you are constantly waking up during the night, you will never make it into the REM cycle and your body, hormones, and brain will not function optimally.
So what can be done? What should you do to be getting better quality sleep!?

Top Ten Tips For Terrific Sleep

I've compiled a list of what helps me and my clients get great sleep, night after night!
Top Ten Tips For Terrific Sleep
Here's a recap of the list if you can't see the image:
1. Keep it dark and turn down the lights, use blackout curtains.
2. Turn off screens and any blue lights from computers and TVs (blue lights interrupt the release of melatonin).
3. Take magnesium citrate (most people are deficient so it is hard to get the brain and body to relax).
4. Keep it cool! Studies show that people sleep best at 68 degrees or cooler.
5. Take 3 grams of glycine to drift off into la la land.  
6. Eat a high protein/fat snack before bed so your blood sugar doesn't get too low during sleep hours.
7. Take 5htp, which is a precursor to melatonin.
8. Wear a sleep mask for total darkness.
9. Do a guided meditation or deep breathing exercise to calm the mind and body.
10. Take melatonin to keep you asleep through the night.

Now that you have the list, lets go further into details:

No Melatonin = Low Quality Sleep

Before Edison started mass producing light bulbs in 1879, humans lived their lives by the sun. When it went down, they used soft natural light from fire, candles, or gas lamps. Can you imagine what your neighborhood or city would look like without artificial light? Check out these unbelievable images of large cities without any artificial light. 
Your body's wake and sleep cycles are ruled by light and your circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are changes in hormones that occur based on light. When your eyes are open your optic nerve sends a message to your pineal gland.
This gland is deep within your head and when your eyes tell the pineal gland that there is bright light, the pineal gland doesn't make any melatonin. When the lights start to dim, or it gets dark, the pineal gland gets the message to make melatonin so that you can go to sleep.  
But what happens if you keep the lights on in your house or you stare at lighted computer screens after the sun goes down? The pineal gland does not make any melatonin. And if there's no melatonin, you're likely to have low quality sleep.  
The solution to this problem is not that difficult: Turn off the lights! T.S. Wiley wrote Lights Out, a great book about how the modern light bulb has ruined our hormones and sleep. 
Overhead lights are harmful for melatonin production but screen lights are even worse. Computer, TV, phone, and tablet screens emit blue light. Researchers have been studying the effects of blue light since 1958.  
The American Medical Association says: 
"...[the use of] excessive light at night, including extended use of various electronic media, can disrupt sleep or exacerbate sleep disorders, especially in children and adolescents. This effect can be minimized by using dim red lighting in the nighttime bedroom environment."

Turn Off Those Lights

Lights Off
Around sundown, or 2 hours before bed, turn off as many lights as you can.  
Sleeping in a dark room is important too. Use blackout curtains in your bedroom if you live in a neighborhood that has street lights. Or wear a sleep mask to block out light.  
Give your lamps a healthy update and use salt lamps which provide dim red light instead of bright blue light. Install F.lux or another blue-blocker app on phone, tablet, and computer screens. A blue-blocker app changes the color settings on your screen so your eyes are exposed to less blue light and more warm red light. 

I have been using F.lux for about 2 years. It has made a huge difference on both my computer and phone. In fact, sometimes I accidentally change the F.lux settings on my phone and I literally have to squint my eyes or look away from my screen until I correct the settings.

Cool It Down

Studies have shown that optimal sleep cycles occur when the room you are sleeping in is 68 degrees. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees and relax!

Keep Blood Sugar Steady

Keep Blood Sugar Steady

If you have adrenal fatigue or diabetes, chances are you get low blood sugar quite often. Low blood sugar may cause you to wake up during the night. Keep your blood sugar steady by eating a high fat/high protein shake before bed.  I make a half recipe of one of my Sippers and Smoothies or take a few bites of hemp seeds or almond butter.  

Take A Supplement

Take a magnesium citrate supplement. It is estimated by some that 80% of the US population is deficient in magnesium. In 2009 the W.H.O. reported that 75% of Americans didn't eat enough foods with magnesium. Americans tend to have a calcium-rich and magnesium-low diet.
Magnesium relaxes muscles and blood flow which calms the nervous system. Relaxed muscles and a calm brain are top priorities when you are trying to fall asleep. 
5htp and melatonin supplements are both popular natural sleep aids. 5htp makes serotonin and serotonin converts into melatonin. I typically recommend 5htp for clients suffering from depression and sleeping issues.  If the only issue is sleep, then I suggest starting with 1-3 mg of melatonin.
A little known, but powerful sleep inducer is glycine. This non-essential amino acid also acts as a neurotransmitter. Studies have shown promising results: 3 grams of glycine powder will slow down thoughts, increase serotonin, and lower core body temperature.
Essentially, all of these supplements will lead to longer and higher quality sleep.

Clear Your Head

Clear Your Head
Meditation is the cheapest and oldest trick in the book. "Just calm your mind and breathe" is easier said than done. There are millions of free apps, YouTube videos, and CDs to guide you in a meditation. Practice makes perfect for any new skill or hobby so just get started already!
Sleeping is a necessary part of existence and a key to getting healthy, staying healthy, and being healthy. Follow these tips to increase the quality of your sleep.

Finally, Need Help?

Is it still difficult to get quality sleep, even after trying some of these tips? Contact me on the blog or schedule a consultation if you need one-on-one expert coaching. I've seen plenty of sleep deprived clients come to me looking for help and they're thanking me just days after talking with me!
For additional recipes, biohacking tips and lifestyle hacks -- check out my other blog on my coaching site www.cleancoachcarly.com! I post weekly about nutrition and lifestyle topics, all backed by science. Happy Reading!

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