A perfect diet and a consistent daily movement training routine are all for naught if you have poor sleep. A few small changes to your sleeping environment (aka: the bedroom) can have a dramatic effect on the quality of your sleep.
The task this week is to optimize your sleep chamber by going through the following checklist:
Install blackout curtains to make your room as dark as possible and to help dampen the sound from the street. A very dark and quiet bedroom is optimal for falling into REM sleep. A sleep mask works well in lieu of blackout curtains.
Cool temperature is best (67-70 degrees). If you don’t have A/C you may consider investing in quiet fans.
Remove/fix/replace anything that makes unnecessary noise.
Remove any EMG devices from your room, or at the very least unplug them all when you sleep. Electromagnetic devices like your television, phone, laptop, and even alarm clock radio emit waves that can interfere with your brain waves keeping you from falling into the most restful sleep states. Anything you have to have (phone alarm) should be moved across the room as far from your head and heart as possible.
No work in the bedroom! Your bedroom should be a safe and relaxing place for rest and sex, so don’t bring stress into that environment. Working in bed sends a conflicting message to your body. Having a work desk in your room is even worse.
Night Time Routine
Establishing a nighttime routine that lends itself to a peaceful mind and restful sleep is the goal this week. Research shows that looking at flashing lights like the kind from computer screens, smartphones, and televisions stimulate the brain in a way that may interrupt restful sleep. The effects are exacerbated if whatever you’re engaged in is stressful, like work emails.
This week try a 30-45 minute decompression period before going to bed. During that time make a commitment to shutdown the laptop, put down the phone, turn off the TV and most importantly disconnect from work. Turn down the lights to create a relaxing atmosphere.
Candlelight is optimal and you may enjoy some relaxing music while you prepare for bed. This whole process is about taking time for yourself. We get so wound up in our day that we sometimes forget to give ourselves the time to unwind. We’re so used to having everything we want instantly at the tips of our fingers that we start expecting the same out of our bodies.
Aside from mentally and emotionally winding down there are several biological causes of poor sleep and restlessness. All the possibilities are too numerous to cover here, but mineral deficiency, specifically magnesium, is one of the most common reasons. Magnesium is a mineral that is one of the catalysts for the chemical reaction that relaxes our nervous system, muscles and fascia. Low magnesium levels can lead to chronic muscle tension, muscle cramping, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, trouble falling asleep and a host of other nervous disorders.
Some of the foods we’ve already recommended like dark leafy greens and avocados are very high in magnesium. Certain nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, and pumpkin seeds are also high in magnesium. Just a half cup of pumpkin seeds for example would give you almost 100% of the recommended daily requirement of magnesium.
Brazil nuts are a particularly good choice because they’re also very high in selenium, which is another trace mineral that most people are low in. Selenium regulates optimal hormonal function and is the catalyst that allows other important micronutrients from foods you eat to be absorbed.
TIP: Guys! Research shows that eating as few as 3 brazil nuts can raise natural testosterone levels.
Drinking mineral water is a way to kill two birds with one stone. You’re getting minerals while you get hydrated. Gerolsteiner is our personal favorite because of its high mineral content and natural carbonation. One serving has 100 mg of Magnesium, 345 mg of Calcium, 1800 mg of Bicarbonate and 35 mg of Potassium in addition to other minerals.
If you’re low in a certain micronutrient, like magnesium, it takes your body a certain amount of time to build up the levels in the blood, even if you start eating foods that are high in that nutrient.
This is even more pronounced for trace minerals. That’s when supplementation becomes very helpful. Innate Response Magnesium 300 is my preferred choice because it’s derived from whole food sources. Natural Calm is also a great choice.
Last, but certainly not least on this list of mineral dense sources is bone broth! Yes, bone broth is one of the most minerally dense substances you can possible ingest.
If you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue you may struggle to fall asleep or enter deep, restful sleep even if you address all the checklist items. Adrenal fatigue is serious disorder that affects us at the cellular level. Your body has to work overtime to compensate for the burned out adrenal glands, which can profoundly affect the way your body metabolizes fat, carbs and proteins and severely compromises immune function.
Not sure if you have adrenal fatigue? Take this quiz.
If you determine that you have adrenal fatigue there are steps you can take now.
Reduce chronic/acute stress in your life.
Unplug every day. Make it a point to carve out time for quiet stillness. Starting a breath practice or meditation practice will do wonders for repairing your adrenals, not to mention your state of mind.
Increase your mineral intake, especially Zinc, Magnesium, Calcium, Manganese and Selenium.
Begin supplementing with Vitamin C. Depending on your level of adrenal fatigue you should supplement with anywhere from 1000mg to 3000mg spread out throughout the day for a period of at least 3 months or until symptoms subside.
Begin supplementing with herbal adaptogens. 1-2 tsp of Maca Root during the day and 1-2 tsp of Ashwagandha at night along with Magnesium is a simple protocol to follow.
Don’t allow all the great work you’ve been doing to be undone by poor sleeping habits. Initiate these sleep routines and you’ll be amazed at how great you feel each morning and how productive and healthy you feel throughout the day.