Getting to bed early is really the last thing on everyone’s minds nowadays. And it clearly wouldn’t make a difference, no matter how early they have to get up the next day. Some of you may get home late after work and only start winding down and having dinner around 8/9pm and others are glued to their TV soaps, including Arab Idol (even though we don’t like to admit it).
On average most of us are in bed past the hour of midnight and to make things worse, we can’t even fall asleep.
At night your body is fasting for 6-8 hours, therefore if you run out of fuel your stress hormones rise (adrenaline and cortisol) taking over, they simulate your body as soon as they detect a blood sugar drop. You will often be woken up this way at night as the brain is losing oxygen and fuel, so your brain then starts to react and this is what causes people to have nightmares. Breaking out in sweat is another common result of stress hormones rising, as it increases your body temperature through the night. We also find that we don’t sleep a deep sleep; we are woken up several times, having to use the restroom, or just find it hard to fall back to sleep after we have.
Most people aren’t aware about the circadian cycle and I’m so glad I have applied this sleep cycle to my lifestyle nowadays. The results are instant, and it’s simple! All you need to do is get to bed by 10.30pm at the latest. Now for some this might be a challenge and later on I will give you some tips on helping you relax and fall asleep at night without having to take any harmful sleeping pills.
So the circadian cycle in simple terms is your body’s natural pattern with the sun and moon (day and night) as the sun goes down this is when we should be asleep, we should also rise with the sun in the morning because whenever any light hits your skin your brain and hormonal system automatically thinks its morning. Cortisol is automatically released, stimulating the body ready for movement, which is what we should be doing. When the sun goes down your cortisol levels decrease that allows melatonin to release, which therefore increase the levels of growth and repair hormones.
So ideally we should start chilling-out as the sun goes down but this isn’t always the case for most people. In this day and age most people finish work late and shockingly would hit the gym and put their bodies through a very high intensive workout routine and what happens is that adrenaline goes up. Our bodies’ physical repair accrues between the hours of 10pm-2am anytime after 2am the immune and repair energies are geared towards psychogenic (mental) repair, which lasts until we are woken up. So even if you were to get to bed by 12am and still get your 8 hours sleep, you would have missed out 2 hours of this vital physical repair cycle which in the long run sets you up for all sorts of niggling issues, such as injuries, frequent colds and even chronic fatigue.
Relax before beditme
Ok, so you find it hard to get to sleep, lets take a look at some blocking factors that may well be preventing this.
Late night work-outs or playing your favorite sports all simulate the rise of adrenaline which can prevent you from falling sleep at a reasonable time. Electromagnetic pollution is another spark to keep you switched on at night, Whether it’s television, laptops or mobile phones, they can all disrupt your sleep cycles.
Ideally we should start chilling-out as the sun goes down but this isn’t always the case for most peopleVahdaneh Vahid
Once again this is due to more cortisol being released, which takes hours to clear from your blood stream, preventing the usual release of melatonin, growth hormones and valuable immune factors, therefore affecting your immune system’s important repair time. So reduce your exposure to bright lights for at least 2 hours before bed, turn off laptops and the TV and try and use the time to relax and unwind, light some candles listen to music and chill out, mediate, or do some relaxing yoga.
Finally, the most shocking yet most effective cure for a good night’s sleep is fueling your body before bed. People are afraid to eat! Yes of course if you eat a heavy meal with foods that cannot be digested well this wouldn’t benefit you. But fueling on the right types of foods, that are calming too your digestive system and not heavy, is a great way to keep those stress hormones down whilst you sleep. Your body requires nutrients at night to help it build and repair muscle tissue. It is always a rule of thumb to combine a protein and a carbohydrate together, as eaten alone both can either drop our blood sugar levels or send them up. When you eat or drink a balanced meal it keeps your body fueled in the right way and keeps the blood sugar levels stable.
A prefect pre-bedtime snack, that should be taken 30 minute before you sleep, would be a glass of milk with a teaspoon of honey. This gives your body a balance of not so heavy protein and carbohydrates, which contains both glucose and fructose to fuel on. If you apply this method you will notice that you will also wake up feeling refreshed, as your body doesn’t have to battle through with the famine of not having any fuel to regenerate on throughout the night.
Here are some more balanced bedtime snack ideas; three tablespoons of cottage cheese and half a cup of melon, or one cup of bone broth soup and a glass of orange juice, or perhaps an ounce of cheese and an apple.
If you have tried all the above pointers and are still having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, consider consulting a naturopathic physician or a “Chek Holistic Lifestyle Coach.” When your body has too much unfriendly bacteria in the gut, or harmful toxic waste, your stress hormones are constantly rising, and subsequently your digestion is compromised. This is likely to disrupt your sleep patterns. Therefore, take measures to detoxify your system. Cleaning out your colon and eating foods that are anti-inflammatory can be very useful. Consult with a “Chek Holistic Lifestyle Coach” to learn more. Sleep tight!
Vahdaneh Vahid is a UK-based Personal Trainer who recently moved to Dubai. She has had an interest in fitness from a young age. Her motto is now "Train Don't Drain" and teaches her clients that a balanced understanding of their physical, mental and emotional wellness is key. She can be found on Twitter: @vvfitness