Are you one of those people who lie awake in bed desperately wanting to fall asleep, but simply cannot? If you are regularly having trouble falling asleep this can be a sign of adrenal fatigue, and the need for adrenal support. Our bodies run on a circadian rhythm, with cortisol being the highest in the morning and at it’s lowest around midnight. Often those with adrenal fatigue are out of balance and have increased cortisol at night. To find out if this is the case for you, it’s a good idea to get your cortisol levels checked with a salivary adrenal stress index test.
In the meantime, let’s talk about some ways to assist you in getting to sleep.
Tips For Getting to Sleep
1. Get to bed BEFORE 10:30 so that you are on your way to sleep by 10:30. Ideally, you should fall asleep within minutes of laying your head on the pillow. You want to train your body to get to sleep before 11 pm when you get your second wind. Your body produces melatonin out of serotonin and reaches it’s peak point at 10 pm – going to bed by 10 pm may not seem realistic to you, but it will set you up for better energy throughout the day. So your first goal is to train yourself to go to bed on time, based on your bodies natural circadian rhythm.
2. Turn off all lights and stimulation 2 hours prior to bedtime if you normally have trouble falling asleep. I know this is a tall order, but may really be necessary for those who simply cannot turn off their mind and relax. I have a habit of turning off all the lights in the house as soon as it starts to get dark. This helps your bodies natural melatonin production to trigger. Additionally, keeping your room dark and free from lights, will help you to have the appropriate and natural environment to induce sleep. Room darkening shades could be helpful for those that live near street lights. If you have an alarm clock with bright light consider getting a different one or at the very least turning it away from your face/head.
3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol – both can affect your cortisol output and mess with your sleep patterns. If you are regularly struggling with sleep it will be critical to avoid both. (sorry) While alcohol may seem to relax and help you fall asleep it actually can cause you to have fitful sleep. Also avoid chocolate. Even if you drink caffeine early in the day it can disrupt your sleep.
4. Avoid excess sugars/refined sugars. This should be a no brainer. Sugar depletes magnesium reserves a critical mineral needed to support the body to relax and induce deep sleep. Consider supplementing with a good cal/mag supplement while you are trying to teach your body to get to sleep properly and on time. I recommend, Peter Gilham’s Natural Calm. (*Note- this is an affiliate link, and I do earn a small commission with no charge to you if you purchase through this link).
5. Learn to eat a properly prepared balanced nutrient dense diet. (read my ‘Nutrition 101′ post for more on that). Avoid refined, processed foods and eat real whole foods instead. Also, avoid all food allergens as they stress out the adrenals and affect overall function. Pay special attention to getting adequate protein to provide your body with adequate amino acids the precursors to serotonin and melatonin production.
6. Exercise. Light to moderate exercise that is enjoyable but not extreme, as you do not want to stress your adrenals further. Avoid exercise close to bed time if you have trouble falling asleep, shoot for earlier in the day. Exercise helps with appropriate serotonin production.
7. Learn some relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga. Try some yoga moves closer to bed time to help you get relaxed and ready for sleep. Taking a soak in the tub with epsom salts would be another great option. Learn breathing techniques or even read a book for enjoyment prior to bedtime. This is especially critical if you are either going through or coming out of a very stressful season of life. Pampering/nurturing yourself in these ways can go a long way to reducing cortisol levels and helping you recover peaceful slumber. Even getting some counseling for the issues in your life that could be causing undue stress without an outlet for relief would go a long way to helping you to deal with stress.
If after applying these tips you still have difficulty falling asleep there may be other imbalances to consider. You may need to consult a local sleep center for further aid in finding the triggers causing your disruption. Or consider consulting with an alternative health care practitioner or a holistic doctor to determine what could be triggering your sleep disruptions.
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