7 Things You Didn’t Know Were Sabotaging Your Sleep




Sleep is so incredibly important for our mind and body, and is a necessity for optimal functioning and for us to feel our best. After a good sleep you feel energized, happy, less stressed, and that’s because all of your hormones were able to reset and recharge while you were sleeping. Unfortunately, the opposite is true when you get a bad sleep – you are irritable, tired, hungry, the day just seems longer and everything appears harder. This is why we want to minimize bad sleep as much as possible! 

Most of the things that can prevent you from getting a good sleep occur just a few hours before you want to sleep, which is a good thing because this means they can be completely avoidable – you just need to know what they are. 

Below lists what NOT to do right before bed:




1. Keeping lights bright

There is a biological and hormonal reason that we sleep in darkness and that the sunlight makes us feel energized – bright lights block the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that your body produces to help you sleep.

Fix it:

Dim the lights an hour before bed, also you may want to change the light bulbs in your bathroom and your bedroom (or in every room) to soft light which is less severe than bright lights.

2. Watching the news

Watching the news or watching or reading any other upsetting material before bed is setting yourself up for a bad sleep. Not only will this keep you up thinking about what you’ve just seen or read, it may also give you nightmares – no bueno!

Fix it:

Reserve the news for the morning, and leave the evening hours to watch silly shows or to read light fiction.



3. Eating a large meal

Laying down flat after a large meal is not a good idea and will be uncomfortable because your body is going to have an even harder time digesting it and this is going to make it harder to fall asleep. This is especially true if you eat a healthy dinner high in protein, fat, and fiber all of which take the longest to digest – which is a good thing, but not a good thing right before you want to go to sleep.

Note: Another reason to avoid a large meal right before bed is that this can trigger acid reflux, which is also very uncomfortable and definitely not what you want when you are trying to fall asleep.

Fix it:

Aim to finish your last meal 3 hours before you want to go to sleep, the longer time between your last bite and your head hits the pillow the better!



4. Intense exercise

I love high intensity exercise, but this is a definite no-no right before bed. High intensity exercise is great for boosting energy and focus which is what you want in the morning, not what you want right before you are trying to fall asleep.

Fix it:

Avoid intense exercise 3 hours before bed. Instead, do light activity such as a walk after dinner, stretching, or gentle yoga.



5. Reading a screen in bed

This includes the screen on your computer, cell phone, iPad, or any other device that has a screen. These types of screens emit a type of light that messes with your brainwaves and ultimately inhibits you from getting a good sleep.

Fix it:

Use “night mode” or download an app that will change the lighting or your screen. Best yet, put the electronics away at bedtime and read a real book or magazine 🙂



6. Afternoon coffee

I’ll be the first to say that I love a good cup of mid-day coffee, but drinking coffee too close to bed time can definitely make it harder to fall asleep and can also mess with the quality of your sleep. Coffee takes a few hours to get out of your system, it varies person-to-person, but allow for at least 6 hours between finishing a cup of coffee and trying to go to sleep.

Fix it:

Stick to your morning coffee and a good rule of thumb is to avoid drinking coffee (or any caffeinated beverage) after 3 pm.

7. Over-the-counter medication for migraines

Most over-the-counter (OTC) medications that are marketed for migraines and headaches have caffeine added to them. Caffeine may help your head, but is not going to help you sleep – and lack of sleep can make headaches worse.

Fix it:

Aim to take OTC migraine medication in the morning and check the labels of any OTC medications you take before bed to see if they secretly contain caffeine.



Main takeaways..

The above are the top factors that can interfere with your sleep. Check-in with your own routine and see if you are doing one or more of the above.




 

Top Lifestyle Factors Making You Feel Tired




Fatigue is one of the most common complaints I’ve had from patients in practice, and the cause of fatigue is almost always due to lifestyle. Understanding the top lifestyle contributors of fatigue is helpful to start feeling better sooner.

Everyone can feel fatigued from time to time, but there may be certain patterns of fatigue caused by factors that you may not even be aware of.

Below lists the top factors that could be contributing to your fatigue:

Inactivity

Believe it or not, not being active can make you feel more sluggish. When you exercise and move more, this releases hormones in your body that increase alertness, making you feel more energized.

Fix it:

I recommend exercising first thing in the morning so that you can start your day alert and ready to tackle any task with full energy.
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Lack of sunlight

If you work in an office without any windows, this is definitely a risk factor to not only feel tired, but also to feel a little depressed. Adequate sunlight helps to boost neurotransmitters and hormones in the body that make you feel good and alert.

Fix it:

You probably can’t change the layout of your office, but you can change how much time you get outside. Take your lunch outside and/or go for a walk at lunch time. Not only will it make you feel more energized, it will also help you to digest your food by the walk.



Dehydration

Being even just a little dehydrated can make you feel tired. This is because the majority of muscles and various tissues are comprised mostly of water, and need adequate water levels to function optimally. When your body senses you are low in water, it may start to slow down in an effort to conserve water.

Fix it:

Keep a water bottle on you at all time, aim to drink a glass or two of water before meals.

Eating carbs in the morning

Eating carbohydrates can make you feel sleepy for a few different reasons. Carbohydrates make you feel good because they boost serotonin, the major feel good hormone. This hormone can also make you feel a little too relaxed, and even sleepy. Another reason for sleepiness after carbs is due to the release of insulin right after eating them and the decrease in blood sugar that happens an hour or so later. Both of these factors lead to sleepiness and feelings of low energy.

Fix it:

Stick to protein and fat in the morning, and reserve your carbs for the evening. Carbs make you sleepy which is why they are great for dinner. If you must have carbs in the morning, go for slower digesting carbs such as oatmeal – sorry but definitely no donuts, bagels, or croissants.



Boredom

Lack of stimulation is going to make you feel lethargic, and well, bored. This can happen most notably at work when your job isn’t challenging enough and you are just going through the motions, or if you don’t have enough to do.

Fix it:

Pay attention to days and times you are feeling fatigued and/or bored, and think of ways you can stimulate yourself more. This could mean talking to friend or coworker, or tackling more difficult tasks.


Top 10 Reasons To Make Sleep A Priority




Many individuals view sleep as a luxury and not a necessity, which could not be farther from the truth! Make sleep just as important as exercising and eating right, because it is just as important if not more important for your health.

Below lists the top 10 reasons to make sleep a priority:



1. Focus

Studies have found that a good sleep is necessary for focus and attention. If the brain is not able to reset and relax adequately, this leads to decreased ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Focus is necessary for almost everything, whether this be studying for a test, or driving a car.



2. Workout

Getting quality sleep translates to a better workout because sleep is when your muscles recover and heal themselves. If muscles are not able to rebuild overnight, your muscles are going to have a very hard time becoming stronger. Not only that, if you try to workout after no sleep or a bad sleep, your workout is likely going to feel much harder than normal – which can be very frustrating as well!



3. Mood

Think about how much crankier you are when you don’t get a good sleep – it’s not your fault! Lack of sleep causes your hormones to go hay-wire, leading to more anxiety and stress in the brain. Sleep deprivation causes anxiety because your brain is not able to shut itself down and reset. It is imperative to get good sleep to prevent anxiety and stress and is why sleep is my number one recommendation to those with anxiety.



4. Hunger

The hunger suppressing hormone ghrelin is significantly decreased when you are sleep deprived. This means you are going to be hungrier if you didn’t sleep well, making you more likely to overeat. If you are trying to lose weight, you must aim to get a solid 7-9 hours of sleep at night.



5. Productivity

When your brain is able to sleep, this means all of your neurotransmitters and hormones are primed and ready to give your mind and body energy to tackle tasks for the day. Think about how much more productive you are when you get a good sleep compared to when you don’t get a good sleep.



6. Inflammation

Research has found that lack of sleep is inflammatory to the entire body. Read more about this here. Inflammation is basically the root cause of almost all disease, and we want to prevent chronic inflammation in every way we can – sleep is a great place to start.



7. Memory

Sleep is when the brain can rest so that we can store information we have learned. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep causes changes in the brain that makes memories form. Read more about this here from The Division of Sleep Medicine from Harvard Medical School.



8. Energy

When your brain and body are able to fully relax, this allows for energy the following day. A bad sleep or lack of sleep can cause us to feel lethargic and fatigued, which leads to less productivity as discussed above. Some scientists think that we sleep to conserve energy, which we can use for the day – read more about that here



9. Cravings

When you are sleep deprived you are obviously going to feel tired, right? So what do you reach for that is going to give you instant energy? Well, besides coffee 🙂 it’s sugar! This is why it can be hard to fight off sugar cravings when you are lacking sleep. Your body craves sugar because it needs that extra boost to function when you are sleep deprived. The problem with sugar (among many others) is that the energy surge is only temporary, and is not long-lasting. This can lead for a need of constant sugar refueling throughout the day.



10. Problem solving

During sleep, different parts of the brain are able to make connections, leading to ideas coming together to form solutions to problems you may be trying to work out. This may be why we tend to wake up with great ideas or solutions to problems after sleeping. Read more about this here from the National Sleep Foundation.

Main takeaway…

Sleep is incredibly important for both your mind and body, make it a priority to get a good sleep tonight.



References

  1. https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/improve-your-memory-good-nights-sleep
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3548567/
  3. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/why-do-we-sleep




Top 5 Supplements To Treat Your Insomnia




 

Just about everyone has experienced a night or two of restless sleep, and so you know how awful it can be to be so tired yet unable to shut down and fall asleep – literally the worst!  Insomnia is extremely common and is usually a symptom of stress, anxiety, worry, jet lag, or all of the above. Lifestyle factors are the best for treating insomnia, which include exercising daily and managing stress, but when lifestyle factors are not helping, sometimes an over the counter supplement can be very helpful. As with any new medication or supplement, always consult with your primary care provider first before trying anything new, and definitely no new supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.



Below are the top 5 supplements to treat your insomnia:

1. Vitamin B12

How it works: Vitamin B12 helps to induce melatonin, which is the main hormone for sleep.

Dose: 1,000 mcg daily as methylcobalamin

How to take: Morning or night 




2. Melatonin

How it works: Melatonin is the main hormone that induces sleep. Read more about this here.

Dose: 1,000 mcg or less only as needed

How to take: 60 minutes before sleep

Possible side effects: Morning grogginess 



3. Passionflower

How it works: Activates the neurotransmitter GABA which is a calm inducing neurotransmitter in the brain.

Dose: 200 mg nightly as Passiflora incarnata

How to take: 60 minutes before sleep

Note: Speak to your provider before taking, it may interact with several medications including those involved with blood pressure, blood thinners, and sedative drugs. Do not take if pregnant or breast feeding.




4. Lemon balm

How it works: Activates the neurotransmitter GABA which is the calm inducing neurotransmitter in the brain. Read more about lemon balm here.

Dose: 500 mg or 60 drops tincture nightly as Melissa officinalis

How to take: Night time




5. Valerian root

How it works: Several chemicals within this root are thought to cause sedative effects. This root also may activate GABA in the brain to induce calm. Read more about valerian root here.

Dose: 400 mg capsule

How to take: 60 minutes before sleep

Possible side effects: Morning grogginess




Try one or more of the above out next time when you are having a bout of restless sleep!




References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9622603
  2. https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep
  3. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/passionflower
  4. https://www.emedicinehealth.com/lemon_balm-page2/vitamins-supplements.htm
  5. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Valerian-HealthProfessional/#en20




14 Tips For A Better Sleep From The “Sleep Doctor”




At the Bulletproof conference in Pasadena we were fortunate to be able to listen to a talk by Michael J. Breus, PhD, also known as The Sleep Doctor. He has been a guest on all the major shows including Oprah, Dr. Oz, Kelly and Michael, and The View. We learned new things about sleep as well as things we had heard before that he confirmed them to be true or false. It was a very informative talk and our sleep will definitely benefit from it.

Below are 14 tops tips we learned from The Sleep Doctor:

1. Having the television on to go to sleep is ok!

We were shocked to hear that The Sleep Doctor goes to bed with the TV on, we thought this was definitely taboo. He explained that having that background noise on with a sitcom (not the news or something stimulating) helps your mind to focus slightly on that story rather than thinking about a million different things in your mind. So if you are someone who has trouble falling asleep because you can’t stop thinking, having the TV on while you are drifting off to sleep actually can be helpful. Note: He did say to make sure you set a timer so that the TV will turn off while you are sleeping.




 2. Keep it cool

The sleep inducing hormone, melatonin, is activated by a lower body temperature. Increase melatonin production through the night by keeping your room cool anywhere between 65-75 degrees.



 3. Paralysis happens during sleep

If you ever wake up in the middle of the night and can’t move, it’s probably ok. Our body goes into a natural paralysis during REM sleep so that we won’t physically act out our dreams. There is actually a disorder where some people do not go into paralysis and start acting out their dreams in real life, not good!



 4. You don’t need 8 hours of sleep

How much sleep someone needs is highly individualized, some need 6 hours some need 9 hours, but 8 hours of sleep is not necessarily ideal for most individuals. You can determine the amount of sleep you need by starting with the time you must wake up by, or the “socially determined wake time”, counting back 7.5 hours and go to bed at that time. Then see if you are able to wake up naturally without an alarm at your socially determined wake time.

If you end up waking up too early then you need to go to bed a little later, if you sleep past your socially determined wake time then you need to go to bed earlier.



 5. Avoid blue light at bed time

Blue light turns off the natural production of the sleep inducing hormone, melatonin. Avoid blue light as much as you can an hour before sleep. Unfortunately blue light is everywhere, most notably on your phone, iPad, and even light bulbs. You can try finding bulbs that emit red light or getting glasses with red lenses to enhance production of melatonin. If anything, just dim the lights because melatonin is shut off with bright lights.



 6. Aromatherapy does help with sleep

Certain scents can  help to relax muscles which preps your body for rest. Scents that can help with muscle relaxation include lavender and vanilla.



 7. Sunlight to prevent sleepiness

Melatonin production can start in the afternoon and the best way to turn this off is by getting sunlight. Aim to get outside for a few minutes at lunch time or mid-afternoon to shut off this sleep inducing hormone.



 8. First cup of coffee 90 minutes from waking

Your cortisol (stress hormone) is highest first thing in the morning, it’s what wakes your body up. You want to avoid pairing a high caffeine beverage such as coffee with a high cortisol level. This combination will more likely cause you to feel jittery and not much more energized. Instead wait for the cortisol to dip which happens about 90 minutes after waking.



 

9. Prevent a hangover at bed time

Best proven ways to prevent a hangover include: one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage, drink coconut water before bed, take a magnesium and vitamin b complex supplement before bed (these tend to be depleted from alcohol consumption).



10. Fasted workout for fat-burning

A fasted state means no calories ingested from liquids or food. Doing a fasted workout 30 minutes from waking increases fat burning in the body.



11. Ocean sounds to induce sleep

The best type of white noise for sleep has been found to be ocean sounds. There are many apps on your phone that should have this feature.

 

12. Avoid Caffeine after 2 pm

Caffeine can stay in your system 6-8 hours after ingesting and can affect the quality of your sleep. This rule goes for those individuals who are able to fall asleep even just after drinking a cup of coffee. Even if you are able to go to sleep, the quality will suffer due to how caffeine interacts in the brain.



13. Eating turkey is not going to make you sleepy

Turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, and tryptophan works in the brain to promote sleep. For this reason, the theory was that eating turkey makes you sleepy. However, you would have to consume an enormous amount of turkey to actually see a benefit from the tryptophan. If you are getting sleepy after eating turkey, such as with Thanksgiving, its probably from the carbs you are eating with it, not the turkey itself.



 

14. 1-3 pm is the ideal time for a nap

Your core body temperature dips at this time, and a lower body temperature is something that triggers melatonin release. This is also a good time for a nap because it is not too close to bed time because napping too close to bed time can throw off your ability to fall asleep at your normal time.



15 Tips You Need to Know For Better Sleep




Getting quality sleep is one of the most important factors for both your physical and mental health, which is why practicing good sleep hygiene is so important to your health. Sleep hygiene refers to things you can do to set yourself up for a restful sleep.

Below are 15 of the best tips to get a good sleep tonight:

1.Turn electronics off 30-60 minutes before bed, this includes your phone, tablet, TV, basically anything with a screen





 

2. Dim the lights 30-60 minutes before bed





 

3. Do not engage in upsetting conversations or read or watch the news at least 60 minutes before bed





4. If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep after 15 minutes, get out of bed and go to another room





 

5. Exercising daily





6. Avoid exercise 2-3 hours before you want to sleep





 

7. Allow 2-3 hours from eating to when you want to fall asleep





8. Listen to lyric-free music before going to sleep





9. Meditate before sleep 





10. Set the thermostat to 64-68 degrees to keep your room cool





 

11. Consider using white noise to drown out other noise, such by using a fan or an app





 

12. Make your room as black as possible and consider getting a black-out curtain






13. Take a warm shower before bed

14. Avoiding caffeine at least 6 hours before you want to sleep





15. limiting naps to under 30 minutes