Updated: Aug 12, 2020
You lie there counting the hours left until you have to get up…urging yourself to fall asleep before morning comes around. This countdown adds further stress as you mentally figure out the ‘best case scenario’ of how many hours you could get if you fell asleep immediately!
There are numerous reasons why we can’t fall asleep... and then if we do manage to fall asleep, staying asleep!
First, lets talk nutrition. Interestingly, it has been postulated by scientists that those who cannot recall their dreams may be lacking in certain nutrients. When nutrient density is increased, dreams become more vivid and we are able to recall them in much more detail.
The key minerals needed for a good night sleep are magnesium, calcium and potassium. Most of us get sufficient calcium in our diet, however magnesium and potassium can often be lacking. When we are deficient in magnesium, we can experience tightness in the muscles, especially the shoulders, neck and back, resulting in back ache, neck stiffness and shoulder pain. We can also suffer from constipation.
A lack of potassium can result in an increased pulse, which can be evident at night when you lie down, at times even hearing your own pulse in your head. These minerals can be found in green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts and cacao powder.
A good quality potassium, magnesium citrate before bed can help ease you into a good night sleep, relaxing your muscles, soothing your nervous system and reducing a pounding pulse. I personally use the Viridian brand.
Too much stimulants during the day or late at night. Coffee, tea, chocolate, cigarettes, sugar, even scary or exhilarating movies can all stimulate your adrenal glands causing you to become overly stimulated. Find a cut-off time that works for you for stimulants. For me, 100% dark chocolate stops at 4pm!
Exercise, there’s an optimum amount. Over training late at night can leave you with exercise-induced insomnia. The speed at which you recover from your work out, ie how quickly your pulse rate recovers, will determine how much exercise you can adapt to late at night. Have a lighter workout if you are struggling to fall asleep.
Too many refined carb or sugar during the day, will cause you to crave carbs during the evening. Eating late at night sends our blood sugars into an all-night party with insomnia the unwanted party guest. Give yourself an eating curfew, ideally 7pm allowing for plenty of time for all food to digest before bed.
Light pollution from phones, laptops and TVs during the evening can cause stimulate us to feel alert and awake, preventing the release of melatonin, our sleep hormone. Keep your room dark, really dark! It will make a big difference.
Stress management is key to a good night sleep, a big topic, however for now, even deep breathing, inhaling in for 5 seconds and out for five, can help trigger the brain into a calm state and primed for a good night sleep.
Sleep is key for good health, don’t underestimate its importance. We can’t supplement our way out of poor sleep patterns... and on that note, it’s time to put my laptop away! Good night and sweet (memorable) dreams.
The journey continues