By Tina Dietz
January 15th, 2014 Edition
For something that seems so simple, getting a good night’s sleep can be a real chore for many people. Over half of us experience insomnia, including problems falling asleep, frequent awakenings, and waking up feeling unrefreshed. It’s nothing to take lightly: research shows lack of sleep in linked to weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, cancer and depression.
When sleep doesn’t come
Problems with the sleep-wake circadian rhythms occur as a result of melatonin and serotonin imbalances. Unfortunately, we produce less melatonin as we age. Geography can also complicate matters: people living in northern latitudes get less daylight in winter months, leading to reduced serotonin levels. Deficiency of the essential amino acid tryptophan as well as vitamin B6 and carbohydrates can also limit serotonin production.
Up all night
Your choice of breakfast food can also be responsible for those middle of the night awakenings: when blood sugar levels rapidly rise and fall in response to foods that are easily digested, the rollercoaster effect continues well after you stop eating. Night-time awakenings are often associated with a sudden a drop in blood sugar, which triggers an adrenaline release to stabilize blood glucose in the brain. The shot of adrenaline is enough to wake you up – and often keep you that way. To protect your sleep, enjoy a low glycemic index (GI) breakfast with slow-digesting foods like protein (eggs) and complex carbohydrates (steel cut oats). Maintain steady blood sugar throughout the day by continuing to choose low GI and high fibre foods.
Peri-menopause also plays a role for women who have difficulty falling asleep, or falling asleep but waking up a few hours later. This kind of insomnia may be associated with an imbalance of progesterone to estrogen, either because estrogen is too high, or progesterone is too low. Limit your exposure to exogenous hormones (outside the body) by eating organic foods whenever possible (without petrochemical fertilizers, pesticides etc.) and limiting chemical hormones in body and home care products.
Sleep is an under-rated tool in the bag of tricks that will help keep you healthy, and I know it can be a challenge for women on the peri-menopausal journey. (And if you’re over age 35, you are!) Learn how to improve the quality and quantity of your zzzzzz so you can look and feel your very best.
There’s so many factors that go into healthy living, and when you’re ready to make sense of your body I’d love to share more with you about how to fall in love with yourself and get you feeling vibrant and sexy! Don’t wait for an emergency, let’s have you reach your best health NOW.