Ask A Practitioner: How Can I Sleep Better?

Join every week for a Q&A session with one of Basmati’s practitioners, Melissa Hill (FDN-P)! We know that there is a lot of confusing information out there, which can make applying health advice overwhelming.  Sometimes, it’s best to ask a practitioner directly, so each week we’ll cover a common health question!

Do you have a health question you’d like to ask? Write to us at editors [at] basmati [dot] com () and your question could be chosen and featured in a future column!

Q. I’m having trouble sleeping well at night: either I can’t fall asleep even though I’m tired, or I wake up in the middle of the night. What can I do to sleep better?

A. Sleep is an often-underrated aspect of health. It is when we sleep that our body can repair and heal. No matter what your health goals, sleep is an important factor. Brain function, body weight, digestive health, and muscle recovery are just a few areas that have been proven to be directly related to sleep quality.

If you’re having problems consistently falling asleep or staying asleep, there is a good chance that your adrenals are malfunctioning on some level.  The adrenal glands serve as a hormone powerhouse and help keep many bodily functions in check, including the daily sleep-wake cycle. Scientists have found that insomnia correlates directly with adrenal stress. If you’re stressed, fatigued, or have sleep issues, it’s possible that your adrenal glands have hit their threshold. 

Here are some practical tips that you can start applying today to make a positive impact on your sleep:

Shut off electronics 2 hours before bed. We now live in a world where most of us have a device with us 24/7. This technology is useful and very convenient for many things, but it can be a major disruptor to you getting the sleep you need. Both the EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) and the blue light emitted from your screens (phones, TVs, laptops…) inhibit your body’s releasing of melatonin (the hormone you need present to drop into your sleep cycle). The best strategy is to turn them off at night. If you feel you still need to use your phone or computer, you can adjust the settings to ‘night shift’ at 8 pm, which will automatically adjust the screen color display to warmer tones (less blue light). There are quite a few apps available now that you can install onto your device to filter out the blue light coming from the screen. Additionally, there are blue light blocking glasses you can wear.  

Make your bedroom the proper setting. You will likely have better sleep if the room is cool, dark, and comfortable for you.  Make sure your room is as dark as you can get it, or try an eye cover to block light and help your eyes relax. Set the temperature to 70 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler.

Go to bed by 10 pm. This might be hard for some people at first, but there is a significant difference to quality of sleep if you go to sleep before 10 pm vs. after, even if you sleep the same number of hours.

When it comes to optimal sleep for healing, rest, and recovery: To your adrenal glands, two hours of sleep before midnight is worth four hours of sleep after midnight.

Going to bed by 10 pm is more in line with our bodies’ natural rhythms; if you miss that window of going to sleep you tend to hit a ‘second wind’ that keeps you up much longer. Start by moving your bedtime back in 15 minute increments until you are in bed before 10 pm. This one shift can have side effects of many other positive benefits for numerous other processes in your body as well!

Cut back on the caffeine. If you tend to drink caffeine in the afternoon to get you through the afternoon slump, it is likely disrupting your ability to get to sleep and a healthy time. A good rule of thumb is don’t drink caffeine after 2 pm at first, then just like the bed time, you can keep moving back your caffeine cut off time until you are only consuming 1 cup in the morning. 

Add additional nutrients. If your diet is lacking certain nutrients like magnesium or the amino acid glycine (most abundant in bone broth), then adding them in before bed could help give your body the relaxation signals it needs so it can rest.  

Get to the root cause! Hormone imbalances, gut dysfunction, and liver congestion can all be underlying causes. Detoxing your liver, getting your hormones in balance, and healing your gut will help you get to the root!