My husband asks me how I slept every single morning! I think its just a ploy for me to answer and then say “how did you sleep”as he’s wondering if I got better sleep than him, and then he can give me a 3 minute description of his sleeping pattern – and its never good news!
Sleep is one of the most important things we can do, not just for day to day functioning but for fertility. It is the way our bodies restore, detoxify, regulate hormones, balance blood sugar, store memories and repair.
My sleep has suffered this past year. Since being in school I’ve had adrenal fatigue followed by estrogen dominance, nice right? Well this has played havoc with my sleep and I rarely wake up feeling rested, even now that I have graduated and school is done for now. I am on a mission to correct this and take my own medicine. I LOVED sleep and still do but having 2 young children and leading this busy life that we all seem to lead takes its tool on this precious time. I need to gain it back and grab onto it tightly.
The average person needs 7-8 consecutive hours, sometimes 8-9 hours is what is needed. If we are getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, or soothe a crying child our sleep pattern starts again from the beginning. You can’t just pick up where you left off when you do get back to sleep.
So here are my suggestions for a good nights sleep, some you might not like and some you might just love!
- Go to bed before 11pm – The sleep you get before midnight is much more valuable than the sleep you get afterwards.
- Have a sleep routine that you look forward to. Some examples might be: meditation, taking a warm soothing shower, diffusing essential oils, writing in a journal, reading a favourite book (not on an electronic device), having some bedtime/sleepy time tea (non caffeinated of course)
- Have no electronic devices in the bedroom at all! No phones, iPads, tv’s. This needs to be your sanctuary, the place where you rest, relax and have sex! There should be nothing else going on in this space.
- Having some protein before bed is a great way to keep you sleeping through the night. A banana, almond butter smoothie would be a great choice, or slice apple with almond butter.
- According to Chinese medicine our liver goes through its detox between 1-3am so if you find yourself waking up during these times its likely your needing a little bit of liver cleansing. I would suggest starting your day off with a glass of luke warm (filtered) water with lemon to gently cleanse the liver upon waking and then restricting fluids from 7pm.
- Exercise! But make sure it is before 7pm otherwise elevated cortisol and adrenaline levels will keep you up. Even exercising in the morning will be enough to help you sleep better at night.
- Ask your holistic nutritionist what supplements/foods will help you sleep better. For example magnesium has been shown to alleviate insomnia and irritability in the evening. This can be taken in powder, capsule or food form (such as cacao). Vitamin B12 can be beneficial in reducing stress, depression and it supports the central nervous system. B Vitamins should always be taken in the morning however as it can disrupt sleep if taken too close to bed time.
- Eat foods that nurture the yin according to Chinese medicine. Instead of resorting to a chemical form of melatonin (melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, located near the centre of the brain, said to reduce stress, boost immunity and deepen sleep) try eating real food. Tryptophan containing foods such as spirulina, pumpkin seeds, almonds, chicken and turkey can help. Foods that actually contain melatonin are oats, rice, tomatoes and bananas, hence the protein snack before bed as mentioned in #4.
Sleep is also a hormone balancer “We all know that hormonal balance is vital to a healthy menstrual cycle, including proper timing of ovulation. Sleep affects key fertility hormones including estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). There is one specific hormone that is a vital link between fertility and sleep though, that hormone is leptin. Regular sleep is required to produce proper amounts of Leptin. Leptin affects ovulation, so disrupted release of leptin may cause irregular menstrual cycles” Natural Fertility Info .
If you happen to work shift work this can reek havoc on your circadian rhymes. In this case it is extremely important to have a completely dark room if you are sleeping during the day. Getting out and getting 15-20 minutes of direct sunlight during the day will also be very beneficial to help support these rhymes. Our circadian rhythm dip and rise at different times of the day. Our deepest need for sleep can arise between 2-4am and in the afternoon between 1:00-3:00 pm. So if your feeling the need for a nap during the afternoon, make it between 1-3pm in order to not disturb your night time sleep.