Many people suffer from insomnia, about 1 in 10, and for a variety of reasons.  Sleep is hugely important to our health.  In fact, the body puts out more effort while we are asleep than it does watching tv.  So, let’s look at some of the reasons and some of the solutions.

Causes of insomnia:

  • psychological stress
  • gut stress
  • both of the prior two can cause adrenal issues – which can effect
  •       how long it takes to good to sleep
  •      how long you sleep before waking up
  •     how tired you feel in the morning
  • mineral depletion, ie., magnesium
  • too much sugar
  • too much caffeine
  • too much gluten – although there is controversy as to whether it is the gluten in the grain or the phosphate from the sprays on the grains

Foods that help with sleep

Almonds – great source of magnesium (and selenium if you are diabetic or prediabetic)

Bananas – great source of magnesium, potassium and tryptophan (required to make both serotonin and melatonin) – all three of which help sleep

Cherries – increases melatonin levels – and therefore depth of sleep

Chocolate – if 100% chocolate – it has over 300 nutrients – many of which are beneficial to sleep – and one of the leading sources of magnesium

Oatmeal – high in both magnesium and potassium – mix with almond milk

Herbs that help with sleep

Adaptogenic herbs – good for strengthening the immune system and for the adrenals – the challenge here is that some should be used for hyper adrenal function and some for hypo adrenal function – so make sure you see a good herbalist if you want to use these

Anti-diabetic herbs – can be of real help since they help body regulate sugars; or increase insulin sensitivity in the insulin receptors; or promote secretion of insulin – again consult a good herbalist

Chamomile tea – there are various herbal teas that are good for relaxing the body before bed.  The best Chamomile is German Chamomile.

Hops – a very good herbal tincture for sleep but not to be used if depressed

St Johns Wort – historically used as an anti-biotic; more recently used as an anti-depressant – but very effective for sleep

Valerian – effective herbal remedy for sleep

Behaviors that help with sleep

Sex – releases endorphins, and because of the muscle tightening and then releasing – great way to enduce sleep

Epson salt bath – the hot water relaxes the muscles and the magnesium induces sleep

Cold shower – very counter intuitive BUT it works – why?  Start with a warm shower and then move into a cooler shower to remove the positive ions and balance the negative ions

Write a list of what you need to do tomorrow or later in the week – the mere exercise of getting it down on paper, stimulates different parts of the brain that help induce sleep

Meditation and/or hypnosis can work wonders for many people

Behaviour that end up working against sleep

Avoid drinking caffeine after dinner

Avoid eating sweets at night

Avoid reading in bed

Avoid sleeping pills – that put you into a very shallow sleep – you don’t get proper sleep and so you end up with even more problems

Avoid watching tv in bed

The body has two strong associations with being horizontal – sex and sleep – don’t disrupt these natural associations

If you are good at conflict resolution – then resolve issues before going to bed

If you are good at having an argument – resolving it – having good make up sex – then do so before going to bed

BUT if not – avoid an argument before bed

Be responsible, do your research, find a good health practitioner.

Here’s to your health!

For more information, contact: Dr Holly at holly@choicesunlimited.ca

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