Sleep, It’s the easiest element for optimum health but seems to be the hardest to achieve for most people these days. Now more than ever are we fighting an uphill battle against a world that is wired to keep us awake.
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Functional wellness practitioner, Darren Cox, shares 7 ways where you can rest your hormone health and improve your sleep.
1. Sunlight and Light Frequencies
Who would have thought that the sun makes a night hormone! It may seem weird at first to consider this but lets explore how many people trying to improve their sleep overlook this one simple element.
Lets start with the ‘eye clock’. In your eye you have a circadian clock that controls everything from regeneration to metabolic process to even the health of your DNA. Now, you’ve most likely heard that we make our sleep hormone Melatonin in our gut, whilst this is true we first make it on our eyes through Melanopsin Signaling and we regenerate our melanopsin receptors during the day. Hormonal imbalances and sleep issues are the result of destroyed signaling by exposure to high amounts of blue light. More on this later but your first step to improving sleep is to expose your eyes and skin to morning sunlight, ideally between 7-10am. Don’t be scared of the sun.
The last piece to this light frequency puzzle is Grounding. To complete the circuit in which Mother Nature has supplied, you need to stand barefoot on grass, dirt or even concrete to ground and connect.
2. Forbid Man-made Blue Light in your Environment
Staying on the light frequency topic, the second most important element to balancing hormones and improving sleep is the awareness and protection from man-made blue light. If you get your morning sun but then expose yourself to blue light from iPhones, Computers, TV’s and home lighting for the rest of the day and night then you’re destroying all the wonderful melatonin you created in the AM sun.
Man-Made blue light is now becoming one of the biggest health hazards of modern time. The effects are so damaging many companies, especially mobile phone manufactures are trying to introduce ‘yellow’ screen settings to reduce the amount blue light their devices are emitting.
An easy first step to block blue light is to purchase a pair of blue light block glasses. Many optometrists now offer different block out percentages. For example at night you’d need 100% blue light blockage whereas during the day you could get away with 50% as long as you can get outside to top up your UV exposure. Also, Its important to understand that your skin can also see and absorb blue light, especially your thyroid gland as it sits close to the skin surface.
3. Obvious and Not so obvious Stimulants
Of course the most obvious stimulant is caffeine but some people only think coffee, energy drinks and green tea contain caffeine. Little do they know that many drinks they are consuming have caffeine or some form of stimulants in them. Even the new trend of drinking kombucha is leaving people wired as some of them contain teas and ingredients that stimulate of nervous system.
Not so obvious stimulants can come from many sources in your environment such as pollution, dirty water, personal care products, man-made chemicals and even noise. Yes, noise can cause sleep issues in people, especially those who live in the inner city and are exposed to loud environmental noises and EMF. Before you go to bed to night assess how much noise you are exposed to. You may be surprised.
4. Your Environment at Home
Not many people think about how their environment at home, in particular their bedroom will affect their hormones and sleep quality. Unless you’re living in a distant rural country town, then majority of people live indoors underneath blue light and are exposed to high amounts of Electric magnetic fields (EMF) and Wi-Fi.
The further away from Mother Nature you get the harder your body has to work and the more fragile you become.
5. Food Reactions and Sensitivities
It’s very important to understand that every food reacts differently in everybody. There are so many variables that take place on a cellular level that makes us all so unique. Now days there is an increase of food sensitivities and food allergies amongst the populations, which not only effects digestion but everything from headaches to skin issues to even, sleep issues.
If you happen to eat foods that create an immune response then your cortisol will be released to combat the inflammation. If this food was eaten in the evening then the ability to sleep will be hindered as cortisol counteracts melatonin – our sleep hormone.
Also important in this hormone, sleep cascade is blood sugars. A meal too high in sugar or starch will create the same response in the body. Everyone’s ability to stabilize blood sugar is unique but at some stage during the night your blood sugar will drop after a meal like this causing you to wake up as a result of the excess cortisol floating around your body. If this sounds like an issue you’re dealing with then I recommend two things, 1) Use a functional lab test to discover food sensitivities (IgG or ALCAT) and 2) discover your Metabolic Type to workout the best food ratios for your unique body chemistry.
Sounds a bit Sci-Fi but believe it or not we share this world and our body with millions or bacteria and parasites. Some are friendly and assist with our ability to thrive and survive while others are Mother Natures decomposers. That’s right, if you choose to live an unhealthy life then these critters can find their way in to tear apart your body. Parasites in particular can come from many external environments, especially via food or water.
If you suffer from sleep issues that also include waking up hot a sweaty during the night then this could be one area to investigate further. You see parasites have an opposite day / night cycle to us, meaning they come out to eat and play while we sleep. This activity can trigger our immune system to increase the body’s temperature in an attempt to kill off the unwanted invaders. Also our brain will tell the adrenal glands to flood the system with cortisol, our stress hormone to assist with the stressful demand as well as support as an anti-inflammatory. Functional Lab tests are available and both natural and medical protocols are options if you feel like this could be an area of concern
7. Set Your Body Clock
The bottom line is, the further away from Mother Nature we get the more health issues arise. We are meant to sync in with her circadian rhythms to create our own Bio-Rhythms internally. So the first step for anyone looking to build health and improve sleep should be to create or reset their body clock. Routine is the key, aim to awake the same time everyday and retire as early as possible. Remember, every hour before midnight is worth two hours after midnight, so the earlier you can get to bed the more regeneration your body receives.
Watch Darren Cox talk about how your sleep can be improved with healthier hormones below.