You wake in the morning after tossing and turning all night, feeling like you've barely slept for 5 minutes. You drink the coffee, eat the quick energy foods but feel sluggish and exhausted all day. Then, as nightfall sets in and it's time for bed, you get a second wind and find it near impossible to wind down for the night. Next thing you know, you're burning the midnight oil and the next day the cycle repeats itself.
Sound familiar? Welcome to the hamster wheel of adrenal fatigue sleep dysfunction.
Sleep is the ultimate way to slow down and show our body some much needed love at the end of a day. Issues with getting a good night's sleep is one of the number one complaints I get when I work with my clients who are struggling with adrenal fatigue.
Our sleep/wake cycle is a hormonal cycle and cortisol is directly involved in this. Depending on the stage of adrenal fatigue you are in, this sleep/wake cycle can get disrupted in different ways.
The biggest problem of this disturbance is that your hormonal imbalances can be making you feel exhausted during the day and preventing you from getting a restorative sleep at night. It becomes a double-edged sword situation.
Getting good restful sleep each night is one of the key factors for resetting your cortisol to its optimal rhythm which, in turn, helps reduce our nervous tension, control blood sugar and metabolism and balances many other functions within the body. So what do we do if we just can't seem to get enough of it?
One of the first solutions that most people will turn to is to start taking either over-the-counter or prescription sleep medications. This is understandable, especially when desperate times call for desperate measures. But keep in mind that these chemical drugs are not solving the underlying issue and come with a number of unwanted side-effects.
Instead, it's critical to focus on lifestyle habits to reset the body's natural sleep/wake cycle. Here I will share with you my top tips for getting a restful night's sleep so that you can get back on track. Keep in mind, however, that if you have been burning the candle at both ends for a long time, eating a poor diet and not managing stress, results will not happen overnight. In order to achieve optimal sleep, it is important to change more than just our bedtime routines and to stay consistent in order to create healthy long-term habits.
Sound Sleep Strategies
Start Setting the Stage Early in the Day
We have to set ourselves up for a rejuvenating sleep starting early in the day, not just the last hour before we go to bed.
Make Your Bedroom Into a Sleep Sanctuary
Be In Bed Before 10:30pm
Remember that second wind I mentioned earlier? Well, that happens because when we are suffering from adrenal fatigue, we tend to get a cortisol surge at around 11pm which makes it hard for us to fall asleep, and keeps us up until the wee hours of the morning. Getting to bed earlier helps to reset your cortisol rhythm to a normal pattern which results in a better night of sleep.
Turn Off All Electronics
All electronic devices give off varying degrees of electromagnetic fields, or EMF's, which affect the bioelectrical system of the body. In fact, studies have increasingly shown that sleep disorders may be linked to EMF exposure. In general, the less electricity you're exposed to while sleeping, the more soundly you'll sleep. Consider unplugging all nearby electronic devices before going to bed (except those used for health purposes), and placing your cell phone a good distance away from where you sleep, preferably out of the room. This may seem drastic, but try it. Many people notice a change when they reduce the amount of electrical pollution in their sleep environment.
Pay Attention To How You End Your Day
To help leave behind racing thoughts, take a few minutes to write down anything that is still occupying your mind. Getting the thoughts out of your head and down on paper can ease your mind so it can relax for the night. Your subconscious may work out solutions while you sleep, and your notes will help you pick up where you left off in the morning. Additionally, if you're prone to worrying about what you need to accomplish the next day, write out your "to do" list the night before. This is a powerful exercise that will help you sleep with a clearer head.
Use Your Breathing To Help You Prepare For Sleep
Once you lie down, notice the air moving in and out of your body. Take conscious breaths, counting backward from 30, following your natural rhythm. Don't force or rush these breaths; this is about relaxation and allowing your body to settle. Allow each inhale to fill and relax any area of tension, from your toes to the top of your head. With each exhale, sigh our that tension, along with any negative thoughts from your day. Soon you'll feel your body grow more quiet, and more ready to rest.
Reset Your Circadian Rhythm
This is done by waking at the same time each day (by 7am is a good goal) and getting to bed at the same time each night (ideally by 10pm). If you suffer from severe insomnia, try sunlight exposure (sit in front of a window, even if it's cloudy out, while you eat your breakfast), or use a blue light box for 30 minutes each morning to help reseat your cortisol awakening response.
If You Need an Extra Helping Hand - Try Natural Sleep Remedies
Before turning to strong chemical drugs, I recommend looking at some of the many effective and safe natural sleep aids or calming supplements. Finding a formula that either helps calm the mind and any racing thoughts, relax the body or promote longer sleep times can be achieved based on what your body needs most. A good holistic health practitioner or well-trained health food store employee can help guide you to the right product for you. (NOTE: If you are taking any prescription medications, talk to your health care practitioner first before starting any herbal sleep remedies to ensure there are no negative interactions).
There you have it my friends. The above recommendations are simple lifestyle routines that you can put into place immediately to get you on the path to having regular restful sleep. I recommend keeping a sleep journal and note any changes you experience to not only your sleep, but your body and your mind. As you implement these strategies into your daily routine, don't be surprised if other positive changes start to happen.
If you would like to explore how working with a holistic nutritionist can help you achieve your best and most vibrant health, please feel free contact me at email@example.com or by phone at 519.404.9919 to schedule your FREE 30 minute discovery session.
Jill Taylor is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. She is the mom of two pretty awesome teenagers, s very dramatic dog, a hedgehog and a snake (yikes!). Jill assists her clients in achieving true wellness through thoughtful and compassionate dietary and lifestyle coaching. Feel free to visit the "Contact" page to get in touch. Jill would love to hear from you!