Ask a Health Coach: Why Can’t I Sleep?

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Woman is sleeping on the sofaHello folks! The Primal Health Coach Institute’s veteran health trainer and curriculum director, Erin Power, is back to answer all of your sleep questions, from why you wake up in the middle of the night to the best natural ways to improve your sleep cycle to improve. Do you have any further questions? Post them in our Marks Daily Apple Facebook Group or below in the comments below.

Jordan asked:
“I’ve been going to bed at 10pm for a couple of weeks and wake up at 6am. For some reason, I wake up at 3:15 am and can’t get back to sleep. Any ideas what is causing this? “

Almost half of all adults experience some degree of insomnia. So if it comforts you, you are in good company. That being said, having to lug around all day dealing with sugary snacks or breezy cups of coffee isn’t ideal.

One out of two nights with suboptimal sleep is manageable. But what if it’s a nocturnal event? It’s time to dig a little deeper.

What it really means to get up early

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, waking up at a certain time of the night (or early morning in your case) is a sign that something is wrong in the body, since, as TCM teaches, different hours are associated with different organs and emotional states. Even if you don’t follow this train of thought, paying attention to your body’s signals can be a big wake up call (no pun intended).

It sounds like these 3am awakenings are a new thing, so start by looking at what has changed lately.
Are you:

  • Having more stress at home or at work?
  • Are you taking a new prescription or dietary supplement?
  • Looking at a screen later that night?
  • Eating too soon before bed?
  • Are you eating more carbohydrates than normal … or less carbohydrates?
  • Consume alcohol or caffeine later in the day?

Every time you do something that works, suddenly it doesn’t work, usually because another element has changed. I know this is not rocket science, but in health coaching we like to start with the obvious. I like to start with the lowest hanging fruit, which in my experience is quite often a stress level change.

When you go to bed at night and the other distractions in life settle down, the brain goes into repair mode, and one of the tendencies inherent with it is processing the day’s worries. While it is easy for you to fall asleep, your jerk at 3 a.m. could be caused by activation of your sympathetic nervous system. You may feel your heart rate increase or your mind start racing. If this is the case for you, then you should be aware of what may be causing your stress and take steps to relieve it before your head hits the pillow.

When the blood sugar is to blame

Another thing to watch out for is blood sugar levels, which can also be responsible for waking you up at 3 a.m. It is well known that high carbohydrate intake has been shown to increase the frequency of nocturnal awakenings and decrease deep sleep. If you’re used to using carbohydrates for fuel and eating every few hours, blood sugar can drop during the night because your body isn’t getting the constant drop of glucose it gets during the day. This is just one of the reasons I’m a huge advocate of abandoning the standard American diet and snacking on roller coasters.

However, high carb isn’t always to blame. One study showed that a low carbohydrate diet Even Effects on sleep due to low levels of serotonin and melatonin. Researchers found that diets containing less than 50% carbohydrates were linked to insomnia – especially in men. There is also evidence that some people who have eaten low-carb are more prone to sleep apnea.

Take an honest look at it and understand what has changed in the last week or so. When you’re under more stress, eating more carbohydrates, or starting a diet like keto, you become curious about what you can do to help you sleep through the wee hours of the morning.

Tim asked:
“I lack energy and I am tired most of the day. According to my Fitbit, my sleep quantity is good, but my sleep quality is poor. I eat primarily 95% of the time, even though I’m not really trying to eat low-carb. I supplement with magnesium, fermented cod liver oil, fermented stingray liver oil, seaweed and probiotics. I drink two large cups of buttery coffee that is half decaffeinated in the morning, and I don’t get a lot of sunlight these days, except for a dog walk at lunch. Besides drinking coffee, are there any other suggestions on how I can improve my deep and REM sleep? “

First of all, Mark has often shared sleeping tips and written about how to suppress a good night’s sleep, and he’s always my go-to for information. But one of the things that struck me from your question is that you acknowledge that you are not exposed to much sunlight these days.

Sun exposure throughout the day is essential for synchronizing our circadian rhythm, which has an important impact on the quality of sleep. This is one of the concepts I love to teach the most Health coaching Customers, because the idea that we have to deal with the sun at different times of the day is just so … natural. And remember: we are Nature.

In particular, it helps to encourage the onset of serotonin, the wakefulness hormone, by looking into the early day sunlight for a few moments. Capturing the midday rays during your dog walk at lunchtime is great: it tells your body that the day is about halfway through. Eventually, when exposed to the amber light of sunset, the body tells the body to put away serotonin and think about shedding some melatonin – the sleep hormone.

Add in a morning stroll and a stroll after dinner – only about 15 minutes – to get just enough time in the morning and evening sun for your sleep-wake hormones to purr like a kitten.

And here are a few more good ideas:

  1. Wearing blue blockers
    Artificial light from computers, tablets, and phone screens disrupts your circadian rhythm. So, if you have to finish work late at night or can’t stop scrolling social media, put on blue light-blocking glasses to reduce the impact on your sleep cycle.
  2. Get blackout blinds
    Even a small amount of light can disturb your sleep. Blackout blinds are a great solution for the summer months, but they can also be of great help all year round. If new window coverings are out of the question, get a sleep mask.
  3. Turn down the thermostat
    Your body temperature always rises at night, so keep your room cool (between 15.6-19.4 ° C) to avoid overheating. Or catch up with you ChiliPAD. You will not regret it. I absolutely love mine.
  4. Skip the drink
    You might be tempted to relax with a fine glass of Rioja, but alcohol late at night can also interrupt your REM cycle, leaving you feeling drained and light-headed the next day. Alcohol can also make you snore more. Keep this in mind as you take care of the person who sleeps next to you.
  5. Keep your phone away
    Aside from emitting little blue light, the temptation to reply to emails, check your Instagram feed, or go shopping late at night can be hard to resist when your phone is right on the bedside table. Instead, put it out of reach, preferably in the next room.

Ali asked:
“What are the best sleep supplements that contain neither magnesium nor melatonin?”

If you ask most people what kind of natural sleep aid they use, you will likely be overwhelmed when people sing the praises of magnesium and melatonin. And for good reason, as they relax nerves and muscles and help adjust your circadian rhythm.

As a health coach, I don’t recommend specific supplements (although Mark has a great article here on some of them), but if you ask me, there are even better pill-free sleeping pills out there.

Natural sleep aids that are not dietary supplements

If you are open to the idea that there is nothing that you need to take to relax your mind and body, give it a try deep breathing and meditation – two of my favorite relaxation techniques.

Most of us have a habit of breathing quickly or shallowly. Or worse, we hold our breath completely for some time. If you get ready for bed tonight spend a few minutes breathing in and out slowly and deeply through your stomach. This naturally causes you to relax, which reduces the stress hormones that block melatonin (and prevent you from having a solid night with your eyes closed).

A body scan can also help. This kind of mindful meditation combines breathing work with conscious relaxation of the muscles. When you’re ready to try it, lie down in a quiet, comfortable place, starting at the head and working your way down to your toes. Notice all the areas of tension that you are feeling and then focus your breath on that spot. Research also confirms that a 20-minute body scan before bed can help you sleep longer and wake up less often at night.

What is your goal for better sleep? Tell me in the comments below.

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About the author

Erin Power is the coaching and curriculum director for Primal Health Coach Institute. She also helps her clients reestablish a loving and trusting relationship with their bodies – while restoring their metabolic health so they can lose fat and gain energy – through her own private health coaching practice. eat. simply.

If you are passionate about health and wellness and have a desire to help people like Erin does for her clients every day, consider becoming a self-certified health coach. In this article, learn the 3 simple steps to building a successful health coaching business in 6 months or less special info session hosted by PHCI co-founder Mark Sisson.

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Thank You For Reading!

Reference: www.marksdailyapple.com

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