when you wake up in the morning, do you feel refreshed or irritated or groggy?

I know myriads of people–older adults in particular-who wake up around 3a.m. and look at the ceiling or the clock feeling uncomfortable. Sleep has run away for them.

As many of us know, hormone problems do cause sleep disturbances. These don’t just begin at bedtime, and they can’t be fixed by just addressing them at this time. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that induces sleep. Its normal functioning depends on proper hormone functioning during waking hours (serotonin and others). Distress affects this functioning. Distress mainly releases three hormones. They are namely, Adrenaline: Commonly known as the fight or flight hormone which increase heart rate which lead to increased blood pressure. Norepinephrine, like adrenaline, results in arousal and increase blood pressure. Cortisol, a steroid hormone, commonly known as the stress hormone, produced by the adrenal glands. It is a life saving hormone in a life threatening situation. But when distress-real or fake -is continuing in the body, the cortisol production become continuous. It creates havoc, sleeplessness, and more important Weight gain or obesity. Moreover suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure and sugar, decrease libido, produce acne, and contribute to obesity and more. Of course, estrogen and testosterone are also hormones that affect how we react to stress, as are the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.

Most of us also already know that numerous health conditions and medications [including over-the-counter] do interfere with normal sleep. Now, let us discuss, what we can do to get back the sleep you need, so as to ensure your best health, safety, and well-being.

Are there other ways to get a good night’s sleep sans medications?

Most often, poor quality sleep stems from one or more lifestyle causes, and it is important to address these underlying issues as they can impact more than just sleep:

A daily routine- day and night both- can make a big difference in how easily you fall and experience good quality sleep. Wake up and hit the bed at the same time, 7 days a week to keep your hormone cycle regular. My revtrnd father used to wake me up on weekends at 6.30am. You can check what works for you. Sleep is regulated by two body systems: sleep/ wake homeostasis and the circadian biological clock.

Avoid caffeine in case it disturb the sleep or switch to decaf version. Green tea is a better choice. Chamomile tea helps to sleep faster by relaxing us. Every person has his own metabolism. Some may have a cup of coffee and then have a sleep easily.

Eat a high protein/high Unsaturated fat snack a few hours before bed around 7pm or earlier

Avoid caffeine after 5 pm. Some exceptions are there. There are people who are ok to have deep sleep even after having coffee/tea at any time.

Cover all light emitting diodes from TV, DVD, Laptop, alarm clock, printer, cell phone etc.

Drink enough water during the day and stop drinking about 2 hours before bed so you don’t have to wake up to use the bathroom.

Take a soothing magnesium salt bath about an hour before bed with some relaxing music or a great book. Use Lavender flavor as it relaxes the nerves.

Use a diffuser with soothing lavender essential oil to soothe nerves

Get at least 30 minutes of sunlight each day. In our area sun is out hardly 100 days a year. The exposure to the sun light during the day boosts serotonin levels, which will help and relase improve melatonin [brings sleep] levels at night. Take vitamin D3 supplement daily with dose as per your age.

Avoid artificial light as much as possible after the sun goes down.

Do yoga, pray, meditate or play a sport to find a way to reduce stress.

Have a hot water[39 degree Celsius or less] shower before you hit the bed

Those who cannot shower, should dip their feet in hot water for 20 minutes at least

Give yourself a massage before bed to release stress and help relax

Stretch before bed to relax muscles. Many people do not do this as they do not know.

If nothing works, time to see a doctor to rule out a medical condition — such as, heartburn, thyroid problems, anemia, sleep apnea, menopausal hot flashes, incontinence, or deadly depression — is affecting the quality or the quantity of your sleep. Treatment of the aforesaid health problems may take care of the sleep problem automatically.

Foods That Improve Sleep Naturally Foods we eat during the day affect our sleep in a good or bad manner. To help improve your chances of quality sleep, these are the best foods to lay our hands on 24×7:

Healthy

Fats– such as coconut oil, organic and pasture raised meats, cage free eggs; avocado and butter in moderation all help provide your body with the necessary building blocks to manufacture sleep hormone i.e. melatonin. Hormonemelatonin is better released when there is darkness and the eyes send a signal to the CNS (Central Nerous System), time to sleep.

High Antioxidant Foods– Also important for hormone production and removal of toxins that can impede sleep. Focus on leafy vegetables, high nutrient fruits, and herbal or green tea. Munch nuts almonds, walnut unsalted pistachios and peanuts in moderation as they are high in calories and seedspumpkin, chia and sunflower

Quality Proteins, especially at dinner: For best sleep, it is better to stop eating at least three hours before bedtime, and preferably by 7pm every night. Your evening meal should include proteins, vegetables and healthy fats. Eating enough protein at this meal will help prepare the body to enter the sleep cycle in time and not feeling hungry in the middle of night.

What to Avoid:

Sugars: Sugars and carbohydrates, especially at night, can cause havoc to your health. A late night blood sugar spike and immediate crash thereafter will lead to difficulty falling or staying asleep. Many people crave carbohydrates e.g. chocolate or laddoo in the evening, which is a sign of an underlying hormone problem to begin with. But eating carbohydrates late at night can cause problems falling asleep or lead to waking in the middle of the night when blood sugar levels drop crashingly.

Grains– Grains can have a negative effect on health, and if you have intolerance to grains, this can cause physical stress in your body, which alters the hormone cycle and can impede sleep. In millions of cases where people are being gluten sensitive [not intolerant] wheat, Rye and Barley, cause acidity problems and disturb sleep. They should avoid it atleast in the evening.

Vegetable Oils–Margarine, being hydrogenated, canola oil are not a good choice. These processed/artificial fats can cause problems in new skin formation they can cause problems in the hormone cycle,

Supplements to Improve Sleep Naturally Ironically, it is often difficult to get enough nutrients from foods as presently; our soil is depleted of many minerals and vitamins. And foods are picked before ripe that is the reason why we have fruits and vegetables available throughout the year as they are shipped around the world.

A multivitamin [s] in the morning with breakfast having Vitamin A,D3,E,K2 plus krill oil capsule- for omega 3- is great for promoting hormone melatonin production and improved sleep.

Magnesium- Many people are deficient in Magnesium and this particular deficiency can have a big impact on sleep quality. Get your magnesium level checked. It should be normally between 1.7–2.2 mg/dl.

I often drink a cup of chamomile or herbal tea without sugar or add stevia towards sweetness each night a couple of hours before bed.

The Sleep Environment

Your sleep environment is also extremely important for sleep quality. Artificial light, warm temperatures and sudden noises can all effect sleep quality, but these things are almost always fixable. Again, you’ll have to experiment to figure out what works best for you, but in general, here are some tips:

Remove or cover, all artificial light, including the light on your alarm clock, TV light, phone, etc.

Keep the temperature of room always around 65 to 70 degrees.

Try some white noise like sounds, of rain, ocean etc.

Keep the color of walls of your bed room very light.

Going to bed before 10.30 pm will also greatly impact your body’s healing ability, as there are supposed to be additional benefits to sleep before midnight.

Try to go to bed at the same time every night. If you can’t fall asleep with in 15 minutes, leave the bedroom. Sit somewhere. Read a book for 15-20 minutes or until you get sleepy. Then go back to bed.

Alcohol with dinner 2 pegs for a man and 1 for a woman [sorry for discrimination] is ok with food at Supper/Dinner time. Since alcohol have dry high calories with sugar in it, may keep you awake in the late night when sugar level keep crashing down and body throwing away extra glucose by way of peeing.

Eat a light dinner. A heavy meal can lead to heartburn, which can keep you awake. Avoid caffeinated tea, coffee, and soda, as well as alcohol and chocolate before sleep.

Turn off your TV, computer, cell phone or Kindle, and tablet at least 30 minutes before bed. They stimulate the brain. Read a book, not on laptop or cell phone.

A warm bath, or listen to soft music to help your body and mind unwind before bed.

Get your bedroom ready for sleep. Dim the lights close the curtains.

Power

nap:

Is a short sleep taken during the working day in order to restore one’s mental alertness. This Day time nap can be one way to treat sleep deprivation; one can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping.

Conclusion:

Due to aging, elders get less sleep. They should learn to be still on the bed for 7 hours in a row. One should sleep for 7 to 8 hrs. If you sleep for 9 or more hours then get your iron, blood profile checked by a Physician. There are approcimately 10% people in the world who get fresh with 6 hour sleep, for others it is not normal.Sleep is definitely a complex topic and different methods work for different people. My reverend father’s rule has been incredibly helpful to me in developing a schedule and routine that actually allows me everyday to get out of bed on time. What about you? If you feel groggy during the day, a power nap can be useful. This entails sleeping for approx. 20 minutes only. After waking up, you will feel a surge of energy and will be able to live your day happily.

 

By: Prof. Surinder
Shaun Kochhar
LPN, FCN, M.Com,
CAIIB, DIM
(A freelance writer with
36 Years Exp.