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Getting Started with Sleep

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

Hi! My name is Tanya Trofimencoff, your Holistic Nutrition Counsellor at DNC Wellness.

Welcome to my blog where I'll be sharing about how to get started on your holistic health journey.

So what makes up a whole person in the context of holistic health?

Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

I will post practical tools and life skills for each of these areas starting with physical health.


Why, you might ask?


Firstly, because I am passionate about sharing knowledge about holistic health to empower others, for growth in self-awareness, and regaining a strong sense of self-value. My hope is that the information shared will inspire you to learn more about yourself, experience more present living, and adopt healthy habits unique to your needs to support you in everyday life.


Secondly, starting with physical health is important because I believe it is the foundation to support overall health. That starts with basic needs such as sleep, nutrition, and exercise. So let's jump right in!


Sleep


Adults need about 7-9 hours of sleep every night. This is crucial for rejuvenation, regeneration, and to support the body for another day with healthy stress levels. Stress itself is a needed and natural part of our body's signals to get working, it's when it becomes chronic that there's a signal to our bodies and minds that something needs our attention. There are different factors affecting stress levels throughout the day, but for today we'll focus on the stress from lack of sleep on the physical body.


There is a natural rise and fall of cortisol and melatonin in the body throughout the day. These are two hormones produced by the body to regulate sleep and activity. Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by your adrenal glands to help your body use glucose in the brain and body efficiently while melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland in the brain and regulates your natural internal sleep-wake cycle (also called your circadian rhythm). Cortisol levels rise in the morning and fall at night and melatonin levels fall in the morning and rise at night.


Melatonin is produced by your pineal gland as shown below.

Your adrenal glands are like little hats located just above your kidneys also shown below.

July 2019. Computer artwork of a sectioned human brain in side view, showing the pineal gland (highlighted). You and Your Hormones: an education resource from the Society of Endocrinology. Bristol. Accessed June 5, 2023. https://www.yourhormones.info/glands/pineal-gland/

October 18, 2021. Image of kidneys and adrenal glands. National Library of Medicine: Medicine Plus – Trusted Health Information for You. Accessed June 5, 2023. https://medlineplus.gov/adrenalglanddisorders.html


3 Reasons for Poor Sleep

  1. Low Blood Sugar Levels As blood sugar levels naturally drop at night when we fast from water and drink, sometimes the levels can be so low that the brain signals the body to wake up to increase the levels. This is a form of protection for the brain.

  2. Alcohol Consumption There is a sleep pattern throughout the night that is dysregulated depending on what might be consumed before bedtime. One common pattern disruptor is alcohol. When consumed at night just before sleep, since it is a sedative, falling asleep might be faster but this in turn changes the sleep patterns through the night, which can lead to wakefulness and lack of deep sleep.

  3. Poor Sleep Hygeine Ideally at night you are supporting your body to wind down with a calming routine. Poor sleep hygeine is a sleep disruptor as well. These include: not being in tune with your natural circadian rhythm (waking/sleeping at irregular hours), use of technology before bed, exercising before sleep, and eating large meals.

What Can You Do?

First, it's important to start noticing your nightly routine. The goal is to build awareness of your body and how sleep works internally to connect your inner needs with your outer world.


  1. Eat Regularly If you wake up in the middle of the night thirsty or hungry, try having a glass of water or snack about 1-2hours before sleeping. The snack ideally is high in protein and fat, and small in order to prevent the digestive system from working too hard at night. Avoid skipping meals throughout the day in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

  2. Avoid Alcohol Limit alcohol consumption to 1-2 drinks and drink with water, a meal, and at least 2-3hours before sleeping. This way the alcohol can be flushed out of the system without disrupting sleep patters. **Note: Alcohol flushes nutrients in the body and causes inflammation.

  3. Circadian Rhythm, Technology Use, & Meals Get to know your own personal circadian rhythm. Even if you don't reach the 7-9hours goal for sleep, having a consistent wake up time can support and readjust your natural rhythm. Find time in the day where power naps can fit in or even a 5-minute relaxation/meditation a few times a day to manage the stress from lack of sleep. Try using technology no later than 1-2hours before sleeping to avoid disrupting the natural rise of melatonin production. The body naturally cools at night, so instead of exercise at night, try a warm bath or hot shower to cool down the body and promotes relaxation. Finally, avoid large meals because this can cause the body to focus too much on digestion overnight and take energy away from tissue regeneration. There can also be great discomfort when lying down after a large meal with acid reflux.

Nutrition Next Week!


Next week we'll dive into nutrition needs to support your overall physical wellness! For now, sweet dreams and happy self-discovery!


Your Holistic Nutrition Counsellor,

Tanya


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