To help support the body as your client rebuilds their health, they must get good quality sleep each night. They will not thrive if they aren’t getting the sleep their body needs. Because of the importance of sleep, it is a part of the D.R.E.S.S. for Health Success® protocol used by all FDN practitioners. Without a good sleep practice, the body cannot heal. But sleep issues plague a growing number of people, who find themselves tossing and turning instead of snoozing.
But how much should we sleep each night? The experts don’t always agree, and sleep needs vary from person to person. We’ve found that women need about an hour more per day than men. And research shows that teenagers need the most….usually an hour more than women. Optimal sleep levels fall between 7-9 hours a night for most people.
But what has caused the sleep issues that have become so common?
First It helps to understand the 2 stages of sleep:
- Slow wave sleep
- REM Sleep
Female Hormone levels
Women often have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. According to the Better Sleep Council, almost 70 percent of women sleep less than the recommended eight hours a night. The monthly rise and fall of hormone levels and changes that occur during pregnancy and menopause may be to blame. It’s best to test to see if there is dysfunction occurring with the hormones. The test results with give you answers so you can take proper action to help support the body if necessary. Knowing the test results will help you to choose the right course of action to balance the hormones and reduce the impact on sleep.
The stress hormone cortisol controls when a person wakes up and when they fall asleep. Blood cortisol levels are supposed to be high in the morning and low in the evening. The high levels in the morning help us wake up and the low levels in the evening help us feel tired in preparation for sleep.
Upon testing cortisol levels however, we often find that they are exactly opposite of what they should be. Using the Adrenal Stress Profile, we also often discover that cortisol levels are too high in the evening. Testing can expose dysfunction with cortisol production and can give you a clue on where to target holistic support.
Most people rely on a smart phone, tablet or laptop and use them regularly. But using these gadgets close to bedtime can affect sleep. The blue light from smart phones, computers, tablets and even television can impact melatonin levels and delay or prevent sleep. Have your clients reduce exposure to blue light by turning off their gadgets at least 1-2 hours before bedtime.
A lot of people can’t get through the day without caffeine. But consuming caffeinated beverages, or eating caffeine containing foods like chocolate can be stimulating and prevent sleep. Avoiding drinking or eating caffeinated foods and beverages after the early afternoon hours is the best way to avoid having sleep affected by it.
Blood sugar levels
Both high and low blood sugar levels can disrupt sleep during the night. If foods with high amounts of sugar and highly processed carbohydrates are eaten close to bedtime, blood sugar levels can spike and then drop during the night. When blood sugar levels drop low enough, the body releases hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and growth hormone. These hormones stimulate the brain and signal the body that it needs to eat. Eating a good dinner. with the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat will help to keep blood sugar balanced and promote good sleep. If blood sugar is too high during the night, the body may try to release excess sugar through the urine. This can prompt the need to get up to use the bathroom during the night, interrupting sleep.
The comfort of the room
An uncomfortable mattress, too much light in the room, and a room that is too warm or too cold can all prevent sleep. Setting up the room for comfortable sleep should be a priority. Getting a comfortable mattress and pillows, darkening the room with curtains and adjusting the temperature can all help to encourage better sleep.
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the keys to good health. Improving your sleep can go a long way to helping you improve your overall health.