Good sleep has been an elusive fairy. No matter how clean my eating or how energizing my exercise routine, I’m still at risk for so many sleep-related performance and health problems:
Slowed physical & mental reaction time
Increased thyroid hormone that can lead to chronic thyroid disease
Depressed growth hormone that can lead to obesity, lean muscle mass reduction & insulin resistance
Increased afternoon & evening cortisol levels
Impaired immune function
Increase in inflammatory chemicals
Impaired carb & glucose tolerance linked to memory loss
Abdominal pattern obesity
Increased blood clotting tendency
Increased risk for type II diabetes & high blood pressure
Increased risk of heart attack – 5-10x risk of having high LDL cholesterol!!!
I’m particularly noticing developing memory loss, reduction in motivation, and weight gain. I had attributed the weight gain only to holiday binging, the reduction in motivation only to depression, and the memory loss only to deep defense mechanisms from childhood trauma. As my study of sleep progresses, I’m realizing that without addressing sleep deprivation, I will remain far from achieving optimal wellness and preventing disease.
The good news is that my studies have led me to what I believe is a solid plan of attack. The bad news is that resolution doesn’t come in the form of an easy pill to take. For someone who has been diagnosed with psychosomatic insomnia and who struggles with self-discipline and addiction to technology, improving my sleep naturally will not come easily.
I’d like to start by sharing my starting point in the form of a 24-hour schedule. Some notes are action items, and others are for awareness’ sake.
Wake – lunchtime: Consume 80% of daily protein intake during first two meals. Protein increases the body’s heat production, which you want to avoid when approaching bedtime. Exercising early in the day will also reduce heat in the evening.
8am: Breakfast supplements to include fish oil w/vitamin E & 5,000 IU vitamin D
12pm: Lunch supplements to include 400 mg magnesium. No more caffeine. Exposure to bright daylight with outdoor activity.
6pm: Dinner supplements to include 400 mg magnesium.
7pm: No more carbs (within 3 hours of bed), preferably no food (5-6 hours before bed is ideal).
9pm-10pm: No bright lights, best to limit light after sunset. No more computer, smart phone, or TV use. Sip bedtime tea (scullcap, passion flower, valerian, or hops). Horizontal 30-60 minutes before bed. Turn on essential oil diffuser with calming & relaxing oils (lavender oil, for example).
~Release the events of the day. Give thanks.~
10pm-7am: Ideal sleep time, sleep before 11pm.
10pm-1am: Deepest sleep (1st 3 hours), surge in growth hormone.
4-6am: Melatonin peak, lowest body temperature.
Pre-8.5 hours: If you wake early, go back to sleep; stay in bed.
As I find what works for me and what doesn’t, I’ll alter my personal routine. Changes may come when I discover what’s reasonable within my lifestyle. Brad and I are night owls, so I’m sure there will be evenings when I want to indulge in some snacking with a late game of Star Realms, and in those cases, I will have to weigh my priorities depending on how severe my sleep deprivation is at the time.
I will also consider daytime tinctures and teas:
American ginseng to cool, moisten & slightly sedate
Vervain to sedate without inducing sleepiness, promote relaxation through parasympathetic engagement, reduce exhaustion from long-term stress
Chamomilla and lavender to relax
Lemon balm to lift the mood, ease mild depression & create a relaxed alertness
I’d love feedback on this sleep plan and will report back with my own experiences. This is the start of the development of my Sleep-deprivation Protocol, and I’d appreciate any comments of personal experience or research that will improve how I treat my own sleep deprivation as well as how I advise my future clients.
Bergner, P. (2003). Sleep debt: pathophysiology and natural therapeutics. Medical Herbalism: A Journal for the Clinical Practitioner, Volume 13 (3). Retrieved from http://medherb.com/bi/Issue-133-Spring-2003.pdf.pdf
I’ve been anticipating this post for months now and am finally blessed with the circumstances to follow my dreams. Let’s start on October 9th when I resigned from the job I’ve had since 2008; it’s been my only “real job” since college. I won’t go into too much detail about what I did, but I will say that it was a major negative contributing factor to my stress level, anxiety, social and family life, happiness, and health. I began to hate my life and came to the awful realization that none of my daily actions were leading me towards what I have in mind for myself. Two weeks after my resignation, I said goodbye to my career and hello to the unknown.
So, what now? I’m enrolled as a full-time student working towards a Masters in Nutrition and Integrative Health, and I’m so psyched about it. If there’s any interest, I’d be happy to share more about my coursework because it is and will continue to be part of my journey over the next two years. You see, my two-year career goal is to earn my Masters degree, pass my Board certification to become a Certified Nutrition Specialist, and open my very own integrative health practice.
Now let’s back up to the present and start talking about how bemindfulandhappy.com comes into play by talking about my short term goals. This gets into the uncomfortable nitty gritty of my current self and my ideal self. I’m just going to lay it out.
This is me NOW:
I’ve lost touch with nature and movement.
I suffer from moderate depression and anxiety.
I’m a psychosomatic insomniac.
I’ve lost the ability to be present in everything that I do.
This is my IDEAL self:
I eat not only for enjoyment and convenience; I eat to thrive. I’ve been on a paleo kick for the past two years, and while I’m still very much in that camp, I’d like to shift my focus to whole foods. How can I maintain the integrity of the whole food while still enjoying the rich flavors I love so much? How can I use food to heal my body and mind?
My lungs are filled with fresh air. My skin is kissed by the sun and tickled by the breeze. I slide into bed at night with not only a tired mind but a well-used body.
I’m happy and at peace. I wake up in the morning with anticipation. I’m prepared to face the stressors, disappointments, relationships, and beauty of the day.
Bedtime is the sweet ending to my day. The bedroom is dark and quiet. My mind slows down without any unnatural encouragement. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll slip into my dreams before my boyfriend does (so unlikely).
I am present in every moment. I allow myself to feel pain when it comes. I embrace and savor happiness. I put down my cell phone. I enjoy even the mundane life of a “housegirlfriend” and student.
I’d like to use bemindfulandhappy.com in two ways: as a memoir of my journey to wherever it is I’m going and as the start of my career as a healer. The first use is self-explanatory, so let me explain the second.
I’m seeking certification as a Certified Nutrition Specialist to establish legitimacy in the healthcare industry. I also hope to make my services accessible to those who can’t pay for out-of-pocket appointments by accepting insurance reimbursement. I will be eligible to sit for my boards in 2017, but until then, I’d like to start a dialog with my peers and interested internet friends about health, happiness, and science.
Things to look forward to at bemindfulandhappy.com:
Musings on my developing models of health, wellness, disease, and illness
Suggested reads, watches, tastes, and listenings
Recipe reviews, suggestions, and modifications
Pleas for help with things I’m really bad at: gardening, baking, tons of stuff really
I’ve been looking forward to joining the health blogging movement for years now. I already feel like part of the family as a reader and am ready to start sharing my own voice. Pleasure to meet you!
Find me on Instagram @elosogigi and on Twitter @bemindfulhappy