Are you having a hard time sleeping?
You wake feeling groggy, slow, mentally blurry, cranky and even downright toxic. Your body is awake and yet your mind and spirit can’t seem to follow along.
You might require coffee to make it through your morning and maybe even a second or third cup throughout the day.
Maybe you toss and turn, unable to go to sleep. Maybe you wake often and maybe you simply wake too early and feel unable to get back to sleep.
Are you one of those that tends to wake between 1:00-4:00am and your body is exhausted but your mind is buzzing? You worry about even getting up to empty your bladder because you know you’ll be up for hours? Well, my friend, we need to really talk about adrenal health and your sleep.
Let’s see if we can help you tackle these challenges from the comfort of your own home.
Of course we will talk about your food intake and lifestyle, these are important for your overall well being, hormone balancing and guess what? They also impact your sleep.
Did you know that when you are in deep sleep, that is the only time your brain gets the opportunity to rejuvenate?
Thus, when you have had solid sleep, you wake feeling rested, rejuvenated and ready for the day. So, I guess we can say, “let thy sleep be thy medicine and let thy medicine be thy sleep!” If only Hippocrates were still alive to applaud that statement. 🙂
As we say to our kids, “Sleep is when you grow bigger, and stronger, and smarter”, so let’s dive in.
How much sleep do we need?
8-9 hours is ideal. Did you know that research shows if you have 6 hours or less it actually increases dehydration? Maybe that’s another reason we wake feeling less than ready to start. Additionally, 6 hours or less of sleep for seven consecutive nights in one study raised cortisol levels between 50-80%.
What is cortisol you may ask? That’s the “fight, flight or freeze” hormone. Ever heard of Adrenal Fatigue?
Did you know sleep also plays a role in maintaining an ideal body weight?
They say weight loss is 80% what you put in your mouth. The other 20% of the story is adequate body movement and sleep. In other words, if you sleep less, you likely weigh more.
Sleeping less than 7 hours a night not only has been shown to increase rates of obesity, but also increases people’s cravings for unhealthy snacks. What else, sleep deprivation leads to temporary insulin resistance, which then triggers the body to store more fat. Two hormones, ghrelin and leptin, hold the remote control for your appetite. Ghrelin is the green light that says, “Go get some food!” Leptin is the red light that says, “Stop eating now!” — Dr. Michael Breus. Lack of sleep turns up Ghrelin and turns down Leptin.
Did you know high cortisol levels will signal your body to store fat and burn muscle?
Well, of course, it is the survival hormone, the one you need when that saber tooth tiger comes a chasing. It helps you survive. But, something like lack of sleep also increases your cortisol (ever hear of adrenal fatigue?), so your body is burning your muscle and storing fat simply as a result of not enough sleep.
Human Growth Hormone is another one that is effected by sleep. If you get too little sleep and low quality sleep, your HGH will go down. That means your body will more slowly use fats for energy and in turn increases that chance of weight gain and sluggishness.
Let’s talk about solutions, first with food:
1) Keep blood sugars stable.
Good ways to do this are eating lots of veggies through the day, ample protein (which does not have to be meat), making sure you are having quality, food intake every 2-3 hours (never skipping meals) and ensuring the food you eat is high in fiber.
You’d be surprised at the content of protein that you can receive by non-meat, from nuts, seeds, legumes and even simply eating beans and rice together. This blood sugar maintenance at the end of the day begins at the beginning of the day.
Make sure you consume a quality protein within 40 minutes of waking to set your adrenals up for success, which then sets up your hormonal cocktail for success as well as your blood sugars. Also, keeping processed foods to a minimum as well as simple carbohydrates and anything with sugar or high fructose corn syrup added.
Remember, you crave what you eat. The more you shift away from sweet foods and towards healthy produce, the more your body will crave that healthy produce you are consuming.
2) Keep caffeine to a minimum or none at all.
Even just one cup of coffee in the morning can drastically impact your quality of sleep that night as well as waking in the morning feeling rested.
3) Eat Gaba rich foods at night.
GABA is an amino acid produced naturally in the brain. It is associated with things like increasing relaxation and calm, reducing stress, helping with balanced mood, alleviating pain, and boosting sleep. valerian and hops, magnesium, and L-theanine, are all supplements that are known to increase GABA, as well as simply taking a GABA supplement. But, once again, I like to see food as our first resource.
Foods that are known to be high in GABA are: cherry tomatoes, kefir, and shrimp. We can also focus on foods that help the body increase the things that help you sleep such as broccoli, spinach and bananas, almonds and hazelnuts. So, maybe snack on a gluten free piece of toast with almond butter and banana 4 hours before you go to sleep.
4) Keep alcohol to a minimum, especially at night.
You might think it’s helping you “wind down” and “sleep better”, but it actually has the opposite effect. It blocks REM sleep.
So, your body might be a log, but your liver and brain are busy at work. It also decreases a hormone called antidiuretic hormone (ADH), so you urinate more often through the night, which actually leaves you even more dehydrated in the morning, hence waking up in the morning feeling like trash.
5) Eat more nutritionally dense foods during the day?
Hear this one loud and clear: Eating often and making sure your food has every color every day (food coloring doesn’t count) will actually impact your sleep. If you can’t eat it, bridge the gap with supplemental plant powders. There are many on the market, but my favorite is Juice Plus. It is backed by research and produced better than any other plant powder I know of on the marketplace.
6) Melatonin, let’s talk about it.
5HTP turns into serotonin, which the body converts to melatonin by the pineal gland (50-100mg). I don’t mean to bore you with the science, but just know that melatonin needs a healthy gut and it is naturally produced in a healthy body with the lights on turned off. So, yes, I said light. When the lights are out, your body converts serotonin to melatonin. So, if you’re supplementing with melatonin, make sure the lights are out first.
Of course I want to go on and on about aromatherapy and all the ways you can support your adrenals, but I think this article is quite long enough.
Suffice it to say: Sleep is important, there are lots of ways you can support better sleep and if you’re ready to really do a deep dive and transform the underlying cause of your body not sleeping, reach out to me and schedule a one hour free breakthrough call. Let’s point you in the direction of solutions. Book a call here.
For one little simple way to start helping your adrenals, you’re welcome to try some free adaptogen elixirs, click here for some recipes, just scroll down and enter your email.
Finally… I can’t go without giving you just a few pointers in regard to lifestyle and mindset.
This is an entire second blog, but for now, chew on these:
- Bedtime ritual is important for children, it’s important for adults too
- When your gut gets to rest, blood flow goes to your brain and you might actually get better sleep. So, try not eating within 4 hours of going to bed AND, still make sure to get in that protein within 30-60 minutes of waking
- Fit it body movement during the day
- Avoid screens and blue light within 2 hours of going to bed
- Sleep with cell phones in a different room and consider turning your WiFi off at night
- Temperature makes a difference
- Practice gratitude
Once again, if this sparks interest in your and you’re ready to dive more deeply into this discussion, let’s do a breakthrough call and chat about what your challenges are, what has worked, what hasn’t worked and let’s point you in the direction of some solutions! Book a free breakthrough call here.
Cheers to your sleep, to your vitality and to feeling ready for your life and dreams! Cheers to you!
Maraya is the co-founder of Beyond The Red Tent, one of our esteemed experts on our Hormones & Wellness Summit, a Yale Trained Certified Nurse Midwife, with her Masters in Nursing and her undergraduate in Marketing. She has attended births and practiced as a women’s health provider for 13 years.
She has taught at the Chinese Medicine College on the Big Island of Hawaii and is in the process of getting her Certification through the Institute of Functional Medicine. She is also a mom of 3 young children.
Maraya has just launched on online Women’s Energy, Hormone Balance and Libido course and is opening up exploration calls now to find the right first 5 women to enter during these turbulent times.
If you would like to receive Maraya’s top five adrenal health elixirs to make at home, please sign up here and they will be emailed to you for free. These are part of Maraya’s course, but a gift from her to you for enjoying this article.