Not only does getting inadequate amounts of sleep make you a grump, but it also affects many of your cognitive functions such as memory, concentration, attention and ability to problem solve. This makes you less productive as well as just not much fun to be around. Lack of sleep can also be a dangerous thing as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports around 100,000 auto accidents occur each year due to fatigue. And on a more personal level, lack of sleep affects your health if it is ongoing by increasing your risk of heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Weight gain can also be contributed to by not getting adequate amounts sleep as one research study found that participants sleeping less than 6 hours at night had an increased risk of obesity by 30% over those getting between seven to nine hours of sleep.
Dr. Allison Siebern, a sleep specialist, explains that chronic lack of sleep causes an increase in peptides leading to a feeling of being hungry and cravings for fatty and carbohydrate type foods. Cortisol, which is a hormone related to stress, is also released which can also lead to these types of food cravings. Occasional sleepless nights are something we all deal with from time to time, but if you find yourself chronically having sleep problems or insomnia there could be more serious underlying conditions such as depression, asthma, arthritis, or acid reflux and you may need to see a doctor. If your sleep deprivation is not that serious, and you are just looking for ways to help go to sleep and get a better quality of sleep there are natural solutions you can try.
Natural Solutions for Sleep
Watch What You Drink – Caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages can both affect your sleep. Caffeine can keep you from getting to sleep even if you ingested it 8 hours before going to bed according to Michael Breus, PhD, author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health. It’s better to stick to caffeinated drinks early in the day and avoid it in the afternoon and evening. Alcohol may make you drowsy initially, but it can cause you to have nightmares, wake up more during the night, give you headaches, and interfere with the quality of sleep you get. To help with sleep, drinking a glass of warm milk or chamomile tea can be helpful. Drinking too much of anything too close to bed can also interfere with quality of sleep if you have to keep getting up to go to the bathroom. If this is a problem for you, cut out drinking anything at least 2 hours before bedtime.
Get in the Sleep Habit – Michael Breus, PhD and other sleep experts advise establishing a bedtime routine to help your body wind down in the evening and prepare the body to know time for sleep is coming. This could include setting a specific time for bed and a specific time to wake-up and staying with those times each day and night so that the body and brain recognize this cycle. It also includes having relaxing activities and avoiding stimulating activities with too much movement or thinking involved right before bed. Another good natural solution tip for sleep is to keep lights low in the evening and arrange your bedroom to be as dark as possible. This is because darkness signals the body to produce melatonin which is the hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm associated with the cycle of the body sleeping and being awake. Stimulating melatonin production by keeping lighting low in the evening, using low watt lights for reading, and avoiding devices with lighted screens such as computers and TV right before bed can help you become drowsy easier. If you do need to get up at night use a flashlight or night light instead of turning on bright room lights.
Bedtime Snacks – Serotonin is another important hormone to help you get to sleep. Eating foods with tryptophan can help in producing serotonin and therefore are good to add into dinner meals or as a bedtime snack. Foods with tryptophan include turkey, milk, bananas, eggs, grains, and some types of nuts. On the other hand, spicy foods, or rich foods high in fat can hamper sleep quality by causing your digestive system to work harder. The best bedtime snacks are those that include a complex carb with dairy like cereal and milk or cheese and crackers.
Supplement Your Sleep – Bifidus is one strain of good bacteria that works in the intestines to help with digestion and helps to produce B vitamins that calm us and help us relax. Taking a high quality bifidus supplement before bed gives the body support to avoid digestive symptoms that can interfere with sleep and help the body relax. Digestive enzymes are another good supplement to aid in digestion and take the stress off the digestive system of having to work harder to break down foods. This enzyme and algae supplement gives you an extra boost of enzyme help with bromelain, papain, protease, lipase, and serratiopeptidase, together with the nutrition of AFA bluegreen algae. If you do have periods where you are missing out on sleep, this wholefood algae supplement can give you some of the nutritional support to help you stay focused and alert the next day with a combination of eleuthero, Ginkgo biloba, Lion’s Mane, bee pollen, wheatgrass juice, and noni and AFA bluegreen algae.
Sleep is an important part of maintaining good health as well as helping us to be at our best and perform our best. Don’t settle for being a grump and missing out on the sleep you need. Give some of these natural solutions for sleep a try and see which ones help you get a good night’s sleep.
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