Melatonin and sleep
One of the biggest game changers for improving my sleep came from utilizing an eye mask and making my sleeping environment as dark as possible. Sleeping in a dark environment is key for signaling the brain to produce the hormone melatonin which helps to regulate the sleep/wake cycle. Melatonin levels increase with darkness and help to promote a good night’s sleep therefore blocking out external artificial light and avoiding bright screens prior to bed is imperative for signaling the body to produce melatonin that can be thought of as your sleep hormone.
Tips on how to sleep through the night by balancing blood sugar levels.
Balancing blood sugar and cortisol levels is also important for promoting a good night’s sleep and staying asleep. If you find that you can fall asleep but always wake up during the middle of the night, it can be due to blood sugar imbalances such as hypoglycemia where blood sugar drops to low and therefor signals the adrenals to produce cortisol to help raise blood sugar levels to within normal range. While the cortisol is necessary in this instance it also unfortunately disrupts the sleep cycle and wakes you up in the middle of the night.
Cortisol is a backup hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar in times of stress such as when you need extra glucose in your blood stream to be available to run from the tiger. For this reason, cortisol is known as your stress hormone and when cortisol is triggered due to blood sugar dropping too low in-between meals or in the middle of the night this hormone can disrupts your sleep and wake you up. If you find that you can’t stay asleep and wake up craving or needing a snack to fall back asleep your blood sugar and cortisol is likely to be out of balance. (I used to find myself in the kitchen eating corn chips and I did not know back then how imbalanced my blood sugar levels were)
If your someone who wonders why I can’t sleep through the night The best way to balance blood sugar levels to reduce the need to rely upon cortisol to raise your blood sugar is to stop eating refined carbohydrates and sugar which are the biggest disruptors to blood sugar balance. Instead eat whole foods with a little bit of fat for slow and steady absorption of glucose into the blood stream.
Magnesium for sleep and anxiety
Most of us know the feelings of stress, overwhelm, pressure, anxiety and how in times of stress it can be difficult to get a restful sleep. Magnesium is a calming, relaxing mineral that is used by the body to help clear and process the stress neurotransmitters such as adrenaline from the system. If you have a hard time winding down after a busy or stressful day magnesium can help you to relax and clear the stimulating neurotransmitters from your system.
Magnesium before bed will help to promote a good night’s sleep by clearing the stress neurotransmitters and promoting a more relaxed state that is conducive to sleep. Magnesium along with vitamin B6 and niacin is used to convert the amino acid glutamate into GABA which again has a calming and relaxing effect on the brain that is beneficial for a good sleep
Foods for a good sleep include:
Eating foods high in tryptophan and healthy unrefined carbs for dinner such as sweet potato, rice and quinoa can boost your serotonin levels which is then converted into melatonin. Increasing your ability to produce melatonin can help to improve your sleep as adequate production of melatonin is needed for a restful sleep. Some foods that are naturally high in tryptophan include, eggs, sesame seeds, tofu, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, seaweed, spirulina, cod fish, sunflower seeds, goose, chicken, cheese, mung beans and many more.
One of my favorite supplements for sleep that I recommend and have personally used is seeking health’s Optimal Sleep which is a blend of vitamin B6, calming magnesium, ashwagandha, and 5-Htp which provides a natural support for a restful night’s sleep. Optimal Sleep has ashwagandha which is an amazing adaptogenic herb for adrenal/stress support that helps to balance cortisol levels. It also contains 5-htp to help boost serotonin levels which can then support the production of melatonin. The nutrients magnesium, niacin and B6 all help to clear stress neurotransmitters to help to body unwind and relax.
Utilizing a free app like sleep cycle is a great way to track how well you are sleeping, when you sleep your best, what times you wake up, how quick you fall asleep and how deep of a sleep you fall into.