When was the last time you got a good night’s sleep? Do you drag your arse out of bed every single day cursing your alarm and dreading the day ahead?
I’m here to tell you that there are 3 little- known factors that are keeping you from a restful sleep.
I’m not going to waste your valuable time telling you how important sleep is. Well OK just these 2 mind blowing facts.
Losing sleep destroys your health
1. According to this 2009 study people who expose themselves to light at night don’t produce enough melatonin for proper restful sleep. A lack of melatonin production causes us to be
not only immune suppressed, but … also at an increased risk of developing a number of different types of cancer. […] Sleep disturbances can lead to immune suppression and a shift to the predominance in cancer-stimulatory cytokines.
2. This 2010 study had one group sleeping 8.5 hours a night and the other sleeping 5.5 hours a night, while eating a healthy diet in an effort to lose weight. The results showed that:
Sleep curtailment decreased the proportion of weight lost as fat by 55% and increased the loss of fat-free body mass by 60%
Meaning that it’s 55% harder to lose fat, and 60% harder to keep your healthy lean muscle. Those are pretty shit odds!
So, in a nutshell, losing sleep makes you fat and cancerous. Ready for better sleep??
Let’s get straight to the action plan.
3 little-known factors which hugely impact how you sleep
According to Marek Doyle, a nutritional medicine practitioner who writes for the Huffington Post, magnesium is rarely mentioned in conventional recommendations, but it effectively cures 90% of his insomnia patients within 24 hours.
Magnesium plays a vital role in over 325 basic reactions in human biochemistry, but in regards to sleep specifically:
Magnesium is vital for the function of GABA receptors, which exist across all areas of the brain and nervous system. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter that the brain requires to switch off; without it, we remain tense, our thoughts race and we lie in bed staring at the ceiling. (source)
How do you know if you’re short of magnesium? (it’s estimated that at least 80% of us are). If you have trouble falling asleep, wake easily, or wake at odd times. Also any of the following:
If you get cramps regularly, find that fluids pass through you easily, have cold hands and feet, experience tightness in the neck and shoulders or notice twitches in small muscles (the eyelid, for example)
There’s no harm in trying it, and certainly a lot to gain. So what’s the best way to replenish your magnesium? Oral supplements are often poorly absorbed, so I recommend a magnesium bath, lotion or spray. The lotion being the easiest, fastest and least fussy.
Be aware that magnesium may sting your skin slightly at first while you are recovering from deficiency. I would recommend using it 30-60 min before bed so it has time to absorb.
Calming Essential Oils for Better Sleep (Knock yourself out naturally)
This month I am so excited to try this blend from Megan Card.
She calls it the “better than ambien” blend since she suffered from insomnia for years, having tried numerous medicinal sleep aids. She never had such effective results (without the scary side effects and addiction risk of sleep aids) until she tried this essential oil blend.
It contains the most naturally relaxing sedative oils which will help calm your thoughts and prepare your body for sleep.
Here is the recipe:
(Combine in an amber or blue glass bottle)
- 25 drops Serenity blend
- 20 drops Ylang yang
- 15 drops Vetiver
- 15 drops Marjoram
Get the best oils HERE – this is where I buy mine from.
Apply several drops of the blend to the bottom of each foot before bed. The soles have the largest pores to allow oils to safely and rapidly enter the bloodstream.
So you may have heard that the blue light from TVs and devices tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime and keeps you awake. This is absolutely true.
However the problem is that most recommendations are along the lines of don’t use your phone past 9pm or don’t watch TV two hours before bedtime, etc. I’ll be the first to admit that most of the time in our modern lifestyle this is just never going to happen. It’s just not realistic. Although I do think it’s vital to practice ‘technology cleansing’ and not be glued to our phones every moment, especially not in the bedroom, I acknowledge that turning off all tech a few hours before bedtime is a bit of an idealistic notion.
Luckily I’ve discovered a way around this.
Grab yourself some of these babies and you will be effectively blocking the blue light that inhibits your natural melatonin production. I’ve heard a number of wellness experts discuss this simple and effective technique including Dave Asprey (The Bulletproof Executive), Katie the Wellness Mama and Chris Kresser.
I’ve read that it takes 3-4 hours of no-blue-light exposure for melatonin production to kick in, so try to wear your sweet orange or yellow specs from the time the sun goes down.
Grab some for your whole family or your flatmates and be awesome silly orange-lens-wearers together. Will and I rock these every night and we find it really helps. I can literally feel my brain kicking into “rest mode” when I wear them, and switch back into “alert mode” if I take them off.
If you’re worried about them ruining your sex life, that is a valid concern (ha). Although sorry to be a smartass but I’ll just point out that not sleeping well and being tired and grumpy, and/or getting cancer, will also do that. Solution: Use beeswax candles, low-blue lightbulbs, or salt lamps as it gets closer to bedtime or on evenings when you don’t want to wear your glasses! These all emit warm-spectrum light that won’t shut down your melatonin production.
A couple of other tips:
- install f.lux on your computer
- light your home with salt lamps at night (they clean the air and reduce EMFs too)
- get bright natural light as soon as you can upon waking in the morning to signal your brain that it’s awake time. This helps regulate your circadian clock.
What about melatonin supplements?
You might be wondering about melatonin supplements. It’s natural right, so it must be safe?
Well, according to The Sleep Solution by Emily Benfit, exogenous melatonin may make you feel sleepy, but it’s merely inducing limpness in your body where blood is restricted to the brain and heart and your general cognitive function is impaired.
Emily outlines the possible side effects of melatonin consumption:
- Vasoconstriction of the brain, organs, and heart.
- Shrinks and involutes the thymus gland
- Shrinks sex organs
- Increases heart rate and perpetuates the stress cycle
- Inhibits fertility
This insight is thanks to this article from Hollywood Homestead.
What helps you get restful sleep?
Have you tried any of these techniques? Did you find success? Share your experiences below so we can all support each other!