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Sleepytime!

Now that nutrition school has started, I am absorbing a lot of new ways to look at the same problem. I personally learned the hard way how important getting adequate sleep really is. Sleep is one of many factors that impact our overall health in addition to diet, stress, exercise, healthy relationships, etc.

Getting inadequate sleep can lead to any or all of the following problems:

– Memory problems
– Depression and anxiety
– A weakened immune system
– An increased perception of pain (mine were headaches)
– Cravings for sugar and carbohydrates.
– Chronic fatigue and feeling lethargic.
– Increased risk of cancer
– Increased risk of metabolic syndrome ie. heart disease, type-2 diabetes and obesity.
– Increased leptin and/or insulin resistance.

People who are sleep-deprived have the response time of people with blood alcohol levels consistent with intoxication. I can personally attest to this claim. I’ve had problems sleeping almost my entire life. I’ve had trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, trouble getting quality sleep, and the list goes on. It got even worse once the kids were born. I eventually accepted that this is just the way I am. In my current career, I spend most of my time in the car, driving to see a client, then driving to see the next client. I am on the road 4 days a week. I can recount numerous occasions where I was driving home in the late afternoon or early evening. When I try to recall the drive home, I can’t. Yikes!! It’s scary! It is seriously like I was driving drunk! I might as well have had a few glasses of wine before I got behind the wheel. As the sole financial support for my 2 kids, what would they do if I was in a serious accident because my response time sucks?!?!

I personally found not eating starches and very little sugar made a massive difference. Why? Starches and sugar were producing higher levels of blood glucose than my body needs, so in came insulin to carry it out and so I could burn it off. I was spending my day on a blood sugar roller coaster ride. This I was trying to control by eating more snacks and drinking caffeine, which just made me gain weight and sleep poorly. Ugh! I was making a mess of myself. Then I began exercising like a mad woman to lose the weight and keep it off, which caused more inflammation in my body. So, let’s add all this up, shall we? I wasn’t sleeping well= inflammation source #1. I was eating foods my body can’t digest well: grains and dairy=inflammation source #2. I was continuing to deal with the stress of my 50-60 hour a week career= inflammation source #3. I was raising 2 very busy kids as a single parent= inflammation source #4. I was a chronic over exerciser=inflammation source #5. Then, because my immune system was totally shot, I got sick, really sick=inflammation source #6. My body finally just got pissed! My body was telling me, “Knock it off you idiot!” A big part of my recovery was getting enough sleep.

The hardest part was figuring out what was getting in the way of good sleep. This is what I found and I hope it can help you:

1. I was drinking too much caffeine.
2. I was way too wound up at bedtime.
3. I was eating foods that caused an inflammatory response in my body, (food sensitivities)
4. My mind was always racing and I couldn’t seem to turn it off.
5. My adrenal glands were working overtime so I couldn’t handle stress well at all.

Better yet, here is how I fixed it:

1. I stopped drinking caffeine. (started out by reducing to 1 cup a day then finally off completely)
2. I stopped watching TV or doing anything that kept we wound up at least 30 minutes before bed time. I often read calming books to wind down.
3. I stopped eating dairy and starches.
4. I learned how to meditate when my mind won’t stop running.
5. Doing all these things relieved the stress on my adrenals with the added help of a supplement I got from from my holistic doctor.
6. I also found reducing alcohol intake really helped too. I like my wine, but too much caused sleep problems.

Look, I still have occasional nights when sleep eludes me. Modern life just sometimes gets in the way of living well. I know it stinks, but this is the world we live in. We can either choose to just leave the life and become a recluse in the mountains somewhere or we can find reasonable ways to overcome and thrive again. That is what I want to give you the tools to do. So, even though I may still have a hard time sleeping sometimes, I have the tools I need to get back on track. We just need to find the tools that work for you, and teach you how to use them. I’ll help!

Until Next Time,

~ Laura, Mom Gone Paleo

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One Response to “The Secrets of Sleepytime”

  1. […] your sleep and managing your stress levels are posts I have written before. You can access them here and here. But there are several great articles written by many talented holistic and Paleo […]

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