Sleep Hygiene 101
We have all heard about the importance of sleep. It is the time when our body repairs and rejuvenates itself.
Our mind gets to reboot and our muscles get to relax. We wake up and get to wash off the stress // chaos // sweat // negative thoughts from the day prior and walk into a new day.
But what happens when we fail to wake up feeling rested, or simply cannot get to sleep period? There are multiple factors and contributors that could be robbing us of our precious zzz's. For Sarah Adamson, owner and head chef at Fuze Food & Smoothie Bar, getting her "beauty rest" has taken on a whole new meaning since she has become a mom. So, we have decided to blog about it instead of complain about it, so that everyone can benefit from the conversation.
The future depends on your dreams. So get your zzz's!
As a Holistic Nutritionist, it is common practice for me to inquire about a clients "sleep hygiene" during a consult. Insomnia, not waking up feeling rested, essential midday nap routines, late night energy bursts, sugar or salt cravings, weight gain, dark circles under the eyes, poor wound healing, irregular hormones, depression, anxiety, and mood swings can all be affected by poor sleep patterns OR be an affect of poor sleep hygiene.
There are many factors that come in to play when it comes to getting quality sleep.
Your age, work-life, family situation, living quarters, social calendar, fitness routine, stress etc can get in the way of hitting the sheets at an ideal hour. The quality of your mattress, and even the direction it is facing (if you believe in Feng shui) can majorly effect your sleep. Let's be honest. Once in a while a little sleep deprivation can be an okay thing (if you know what I mean wink wink), however, if it has become a pattern in your life we suggest reading on for some great tips on how to make friends with your pillow again.
SLEEP HYGIENE 101
1. KEEP ELECTRONICS OUT OF THE BEDROOM (especially kids)
Small electronic devices, like cell phones or iPads, emit a blue light that is strong enough to throw off our ability to achieve REM sleep and also promotes wakefulness (or crazy dreams). Over time this can even alter our circadian rhythm, leading to chronic sleep deprivation. Also, time will only tell us about the effects of "electrosmog" have on the brain over time, but better to be safe than sorry. So no more Instagram, Pinterest or falling asleep to Netflix.
Keep the electronics in the living room and pull that old school alarm clock out of storage (or at least put you phone/ipad on airplane mode). Try reading before bed, listening to gentle music, praying or writing in a gratitude journal, or drinking a cup of sleepy herb tea instead. Herbs like passionflower, skullcap, lavender, chamomile, lemon balm and hops are great sleep aids that can likely be found at your local health food store in bulk.
2. NOURISH YO-SELF
First of all, have you ever tried to sleep on an empty OR too full stomach? It is sooo distracting and uncomfortable! I recommend having your largest meal midday, and a lighter supper consisting of healthy fats and proteins because they take longer to digest and therefore keep you full longer on less. Sleep deprivation can lead to munchies since it throws off the hormones that tell us when we are full and when we are hungry.
Getting ample protein and healthy fats helps to reduce sugar cravings. Also, stress can lead to salt cravings. Good qulaity sleep helps to reduce and mitigate stress, which in turn might just reduce the temptation for those late night munchies. Its a win win.
3. SUPPLEMENT MAGNESIUM
Magnesium, and essential mineral in the body, helps the body and brain relax. It helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the nervous system responsible for helping us feel calm and relaxed. It also regulates the sleep hormone Melatonin and the neurotransmitter GABA, which are responsible for controling the sleep-wake cycle in the body quieting down nerve activity.
A lack of magnesium can cause sleep disorders and even lead to insomnia, so its a good thing it is high in foods like black beans (hullo Fuze Black Bean Brownies), Spinach and other dark leafies (have you tried our wraps and salads?), Quinoa (all hail the Glory Bowl), Almonds, cashews, Edamame and Moringa. All of these foods are on the menu at Fuze and can be consumed at any time of the day to reep the benefits.
Plus, supplementing Magnesium before bed helps you wake up to a healthy bowel movement in the morning!
4. GET AMPLE 'B' VITAMINS
A wide spectrum of B Vitamins, including B2, B3, B5, B9 (aka Folic Acid), and B12, may help improve sleep. These lovely's help to regulate Tryptophan, a amino acid responsible for getting you into a restful state. Vitamins B3 and B5 also help to calm the nervous system and reduce the effects of stress.
Plus, B Vitamins are responsible for energy production, so you may not only wake up feeling more energetic but you'll likely have a little more hop in your step throughout the day. You can get these through supplementation, but why not get them from food? Enriched oragnic soy products (like our tofu), rice (try the Buddha Bowl), poultry, red meat, and nutritional yeast (found in our glory bowl dressing) are great food sources of B Vitamins.
5. TRY USING ADAPTOGENS & HERBS
Adaptogens are herbs, plants and fungi that help to regulate stress in the body. Ashwaganda is a crowd favorite when it comes to stress and its effect on quality sleep, because of its calming effect on the nervous system. American Ginseng has been praised for helping people with chronic fatigue and insomnia, and Siberian Ginseng (aka Eleuthero) helps to improve sleep quality and prevent night time waking. I also LOVE Reishi mushroom for its calming effect on the brain and nervous system.
Other herbs like lavender, passionflower, lemon balm, chamomile, oats, hops and skullcap are great nervine relaxants. Try them as a capsule or in your tea before bed. You can find most in whole dried or powder form at your local health food store. Try adding them to your FUZE smoothies on a daily basis!