I am a big fan of Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, author of The 10-Day Detox Diet and The Blood Sugar Solution, and director of the Cleveland Clinic Centre for Functional Medicine. His solutions for dealing with many of today's most common lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, as well as auto-immune diseases that result from inflammation, are rooted in evidence-based research. Here is what he has to say about poor sleep: "The two MOST common culprits threatening your sleep wake cycles are unregulated blood sugar levels or poor nutrition status and chronic stress. Employ these strategies to optimize your nutrition so you handle stress effectively and get high-quality sleep throughout the whole night:
- Eat on time. Cut out all munching no later than three hours before bed. Eating a heavy meal prior to bed practically guarantees a bad night’s sleep.
- Time Your Carbs. Eat most of your daily intake of smart carbohydrates in the evening. Remember to cut out the white breads, flours, rice, and potatoes.
- Ditch the diet. Eating too few calories or nutrients actually increases cortisol and wakes you up in the middle of the night. Follow a scientific program if you need to lose weight. Try Dr. Hyman’s The Blood Sugar Solution or 10–Day Detox Diet.
- Write your worries down. One hour before bed, write down the things that cause you anxiety. Make plans for what you might have to do the next day to reduce your worry. It will free up your mind and energy to move into deep and restful sleep.
- Magnificent Magnolia. Try Magnolia officinalis to help your body regulate stress hormones and deal with cortisol effectively. You can also take 200 – 400 mg of magnesium citrate or glycinate before bed, which helps relax the nervous system and muscles.
- Mellow out with melatonin. Try one to three mg of melatonin at night, which helps stabilize your sleep rhythms.
- Ask for Ashwagandha. This adaptogenic herb helps your body adapt to stress and lessens the destruction stress can cause on your system, especially your sleep.
- Befriend your circadian rhythm. Develop regular rhythms of sleep. Go to bed before 11p.m. and wake up at the same time each day.
- Let there be NO light. Create total darkness and quiet. Consider using eyeshades and earplugs.
- Avoid caffeine. A big cup of coffee or another caffeinated beverage may seem to help you stay awake, but actually makes your sleep worse.
- Avoid alcohol. It might help you get to sleep, but alcohol creates interruptions in your sleep patterns and overall poor-quality sleep.
- Love that sunshine. Maximize daylight exposure for at least 20 minutes daily. The light from the sun enters your eyes and triggers your brain to release specific chemicals and hormones like melatonin that are vital to healthy sleep, mood, and aging.
If you are still having trouble sleeping, get checked out for other problems that can interfere with sleep, including food sensitivities, thyroid problems, menopause, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, heavy metal toxicity, stress, and depression."