Removing Obstacles to Good Sleep
Many things can disrupt good sleep patterns, and most people are unaware just how important good sleep is.
A lost night of sleep has more consequences than just being tired the next day. During sleep, your body makes human growth hormone. HGH plays a major role in body composition, cell repair, metabolism, and helps you recover from injury or disease. Altering your sleep patterns changes when and how all your hormones are released, so consequently it can affect many aspects of your health and quality of life.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, the first thing you should consider is any drugs you are taking. According to the National Sleep Foundation, these drugs can disrupt sleep:
- Anti-arrhythmics (for heart rhythm problems)
- Beta blockers (for high blood pressure)
- Clonidine (for high blood pressure)
- Corticosteroids (for inflammation or asthma)
- Diuretics (for high blood pressure)
- Cough, cold, and flu medications that contain alcohol
- Headache and pain medications that contain caffeine
- Nicotine replacement products
- Sedating antihistamines (for colds and allergies)
- SSRIs (for depression or anxiety)
- Sympathomimetic stimulants (for attention deficit disorder)
- Theophylline (for asthma)
- Thyroid hormone (for hypothyroidism)
Now how many people do you know that don’t take at least one of these? No wonder we are a nation of sick people.
The majority of the conditions people take these drugs for are caused by inflammation. Brain inflammation, artery and blood vessel inflammation, lung inflammation, etc. Inflammation is a direct result of diet and lifestyle, so it is possible to get off these drugs, in most cases. In order to get good sleep, this should be the first and most important goal. The diet that is best at reducing inflammation is the Ketogenic Diet. To learn more, see the Optimum Human Diet and The Ketogenic Lifestyle.
Ways to improve your sleep:
- Get more sunlight during the day. As a species, we spend too much time indoors. How do we know our species was meant to live mostly outdoors? The only way our bodies can make Vitamin D is through sunlight shining on the skin. A recent study showed that only 23% of Americans have a Vitamin D level over 30 nanograms per milliliter. Levels below 30 are considered insufficient. So the majority of Americans are deficient, with African-Americans being more likely to be deficient. Sunlight helps regulate your circadian rhythms, which means better sleep. Spend your lunch hour outside sitting in the sun. Opt for outdoor activities rather than indoor activities (especially now with Covid-19). Don’t use sunscreen -it blocks out the rays that produce Vitamin D.
- Stop blue light exposure in the evening. Blue light comes from computers, tablets, smart phones, and tv’s, primarily. Blue light elevates hormone levels that should only be elevated during the day. The best idea? Stop using all screens two hours before bed and read a book. But since you’re probably not going to do that, you can wear special glasses that block out blue light, or install an app on your computer, tablet or phone tha reduces blue light exposure. There are also screen protectors you can buy for your computer or phone.
- Take a melatonin supplement. Not only does melatonin help you sleep, it increases your human growth hormone, both beneficial effects. Don’t drink alcohol in the evening, it decreases your melatonin production.
- Take a magnesium supplement every evening. Magnesium improves relaxation and enhances sleep quality. I usually take at least 100mg of magnesium glycinate every evening.
- Change your bedroom environment. Alleviate all light in the bedroom, including light from alarm clocks, night lights, etc. or wear a sleep mask. Lower the temperature in the bedroom to around 70 degrees. Cooler is always better. Try to alleviate external noise. If not, turn on some kind of white noise machine or program. Sometimes a fan running in the room can provide this, depending on the external noise level.
- Eat a Ketogenic Diet. A low carb diet has been found to increase sleep quality. View the study.
- Try a relaxation routine of some kind. I find these to be quite beneficial, especially Falling Asleep II.
- Don’t drink caffeine late in the day. Caffeine stays in your system for six to eight hours. But not all caffeine is created equal. While I wouldn’t drink coffee in the evening, the caffeine in green tea doesn’t seem to bother me. So you must find what works for you.
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