If you have trouble sleeping all of the time, it is a very good idea to schedule a visit with your medical practitioner, not just to find a solution, but also to make sure there is not an underlying health issue that will prevent you from sleeping soundly no matter what you do. Just the relief of eliminating any self-diagnoses you may have done while trying to figure it out on your own will possibly help you sleep better. After all, what troubles our minds cannot help but affect our sleep.
The Blood Police
It is quite common that any of us suffer on some level with endocrine system imbalances. Because the glands that comprise that system have the heavy responsibility of secreting just the right hormones into our blood to regulate our body, if the balance gets whacked-out, sleep is often one of the first activities affected. Then, you end up in real Catch-22, you can’t sleep because the hormones are trashed, but you need that sleep to repair the situation.
Finding alternative methods to help with sleep can often go hand in hand with repairing the endocrine system, especially since holistic remedies approach the situation with a more long-term viewpoint. Even if difficulty sleeping is only an occasional issue, it is beneficial to know there are solutions that compliment a more natural lifestyle.
You sleep what you eat …
As much we all love to hear this…yep, you need to eat healthy. And, there are certain foods that will set your body up to fall asleep easier. One goal is to get the brain producing melatonin and serotonin. Because dairy products contain calcium and tryptophan – both help the brain do that – warm milk has always been a good choice. Anything with high magnesium levels, e.g. green leafy veggies, cashews and whole grains, contribute too. The following list will definitely enhance your options even more:
- Watermelon – high glycemic index helps trigger the body to release serotonin. Stress lowers so sleep comes faster. Eat it a few hours before bedtime.
- Red Bell Peppers – lots of vitamin C that lowers cortisol levels, and cortisol can create major endocrine system issues.
- Bananas – great source of melatonin.
- Rice – eat it a couple hours before heading to bed and the good carbohydrates will help the body release the proper sleep hormones.
- Cereals – whole-wheat and sugarless, eaten about 2 hours before can help with the release of serotonin. Add milk and bananas and you have a triple whammy.
- Sesame seeds – better than turkey for the tryptophan because there is less fat, and fat can cause a barrier for getting to sleep.
- Cherry Juice – has same helpful qualities that wine, without the alcohol that might cause a problem with staying sleeping
- Honey – can actually get the brain to slow down the production of orexin, a hormone that promotes alertness. Take at least 2 hours before bedtime.
- Graham Crackers – high on the glycemic index, but that can help trigger the release of serotonin, again reducing stress. Just munch on a couple.
- Jelly Beans – just a few is all you need to help release serotonin.
- Popcorn – eat it without additives, like salt and butter, a few hours before bed and it will relax you by enhancing the serotonin levels.
Or don’t eat
The vast array of choices gives you plenty to pick from when deciding on what will satisfy the munchies, and as a side benefit possibly promote sleep. Just keep in mind that they will all work much better if you avoid the next list:
- Alcohol – might seem like it helps you to get to sleep (or pass out), but when it wears off it can disturb your slumber.
- Nicotine – okay, you don’t eat it, but you do ingest it, and who needs a stimulant when you really want to snooze.
- Caffeine – coffee and some teas, dark chocolate, and yes, java chip ice cream.
- Fatty foods – hard to digest which stimulates your whole system.
- Super-sized meal – again much harder to digest. Even if it makes you feel tired, your digestive system will get overworked.
Natural sleep aids
There are also some natural sleep aids available that are worth experimenting with. The herb Valerian is a natural sedative. You can supplement the amount of melatonin in your body with extra amounts available in tablets or capsules. And, chamomile tea is often effective for relaxation and reducing overly vivid dreams.
Remember to relax
Along with what you should or should not ingest to enhance your chances of easy slumber, remember that exercise is also key. Getting physical activity on a regular basis keeps the hormones balanced, which in turn makes it much easier to relax when you are preparing to hit the pillow. To make it even more possible, consider some relaxation techniques that only take about 20 to 30 minutes – count it as sleep time – and will very likely set you up for a great stretch of uninterrupted sleep.
Something else that should be checked out, especially since it can also remedy issues with your endocrine system, is acupuncture. A good acupuncturist will focus on whatever your specific situation warrants, and many patients find immediate improvement. You can be certain that most practitioners have had plenty of experience with sleep complaints.
Take advantage of your choices
It may seem as though our bodies remember way too many details that occur throughout the day, and demand an awful lot of rules for us to live by. Much of the time, just one little off-balanced aspect is the culprit. None of these alternative solutions should replace talking to your chosen medical source. However, exposing yourself to all the options available is a way to make sure you do not miss the best route for you personally. We all deserve a good night’s sleep.