Improve the Quality of your Sleep.
Sleep problems are often brain problems, and brain solutions are also sleep solutions. Eating a whole foods diet gets most people much closer to where they need to be in terms of sleep quality and quantity, but everyone can benefit from a little extra sleep quality. Here are the top 5 ways you can manage stressors and improve your sleep.
1. High Quality Dinner and adequate time to digest it before bed ( 3-4 hours)
What you should eat:
-Protein: We use protein for muscle repair and immune function. Your body repairs muscle tissue at night during deep sleep, and you want to make sure it has everything it needs to heal and grow new tissue.
Fat: Fat is like diesel fuel for your mind and body. If your brain is always running on sugar, you get large blood sugar swings that make you tired, but also hungry, which is exactly what you don’t want If you’re trying to fall asleep. Filling up with clean fats before bedtime gives you a steady stream of energy that prevents hunger and blood sugar swings. Specifically, Omega-3s have been shown to improve mood and reduce anxiety and depression. They also improve insulin sensitivity and muscle growth. Consuming omega-3s before bed gives your brain the substrates it needs for growth and repair. The best sources of protein and omega-3s are whole foods like low-mercury fish and seafood. These foods also provide the protein you need for muscle repair before bed.
Carbs: During the night, your brain uses a lot of energy. One efficient form of brain energy comes from sugar stored in your liver, called liver glycogen. Your brain taps your liver glycogen before hitting your muscle glycogen (stored sugar in your muscles) Try eating a quality starch like sweet potatoes, wild or brown rice (if your trying to loose weight) or white rice. (if you are trying to gain weight) Also, having a little extra sugar right before bed can help your brain function better at night. Newman Strength tip: Try a spoonful of Raw honey right before bed. Raw has been found to be preferentially used to stock liver glycogen, so it is used first for brain function.
2. Regular Exercise
This should be a no brainer. The benefits of a consistent exercise routine and sleep quality are well documented. Exercise, sleep and nutrition form the triangle of health, and all are related. So find time to connect with your body and move. (walk, strength train, swim, participate in sports etc.)
3. Turn your bedroom into a Cave
Research demonstrates that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature range lowers your core body temperature which helps you feel sleepier. It’s important to lower your temperature because an elevated core temperature is one physiological mechanism associated with the wake cycle. People with insomnia typically have a higher pre-bedtime core temperature. In addition, the tiniest bit of light can have a negative effect on your sleep quality by reducing melatonin. There’s a small region of your brain within the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) that controls all aspects related to the sleep/wake cycle, including melatonin production. When your body senses light, the SCN turns on physiological processes related to the wake cycle: it stops melatonin production, and increases cortisol and core body temperature. Since those three factors are related to the wake cycle, you obviously want to minimize them by keeping your bedroom pitch black.
4. No Caffeine after 3 pm
It doesn’t take a physiologist to know that caffeine isn’t the best sleep aid. Drinking a high quality Brew can put your mind into an amazing place where you become more productive and perform better. However, you also need to let your mind rest after its high output performances. In general, don’t drink coffee after 3:00 PM, or at least 8 hours before bedtime, which ever comes first. This will make sure you get all of the cognitive benefits of caffeine without sacrificing your sleep. Beware of dark chocolate too. While it can be just the right finish to a meal it might be effecting your sleep. Test it.
5. When all else fails use a Supplement
Combo 1: Take Vitamin C and magnesium before bed: Magnesium is a powerful mineral that helps relax the central nervous system, and Vitamin C lowers cortisol. The combined effect helps you quickly feel drowsy, and then it helps you remain asleep. But just any old Vitamin C/magnesium combo won’t work since neither nutrient is easy for the body to assimilate in regular supplement form. You need a high-quality version of each nutrient to get the job done.
Combo 2: Vitamin D from food, supplement or from UVB rays (sunshine) More than half of the world population is vitamin D deficient. This can hurt the amount of sleep you get, the quality of your sleep, and your mood upon waking up. According to the Vitamin D Council, 1000 IU’s per 25lbs are recommended each day, although using a blood test is the best way to know your ideal dose. A healthy human body utilizes about 3000-5000 IU of vitamin D per day. Hint: take it in the morning!