Sleep is something we get asked about a lot at Clean. So many of us struggle to control our thoughts, emotions, and actions because we’re so tired, and maybe even a little wired. There are many causes of insomnia, but the good news is that most of these remedies here will help provide some relief regardless of the underlying cause.
CAUSES OF INSOMNIA
There are numerous causes of insomnia, and I’m listing some of the big ones below. As I love talking about hormones, I’ve also gone into detail about how your menstrual cycle can contribute to insomnia.
- Cortisol/stress hormone imbalance
- Low progesterone
- Anxiety and running thoughts
- Poor sleep environment: Everything from darkness, sound and temperature can affect you
- Liver congestion: If you wake between 1:00-3:00am, Traditional Chinese Medicine says you’re liver is overloaded (time for a detox!)
- Low melatonin production due to age or not getting enough sunshine during the day
THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE AND INSOMNIA
Many women experience sleep problems a few days or a week before their period arrives. A few days before your period, both estrogen and progesterone dip, often drastically.
Progesterone is a calming hormone, one that helps us to sleep better at night, and reduces our depression and anxiety. When it comes to sleep and PMS, the problem is generally not having enough progesterone.
If your estrogen is also low, or too high in comparison to your progesterone levels, this could increase the problem. Many women entering perimenopause and menopause note sleep difficulties because both their estrogen and progesterone are on a general decline, as the adrenal glands take over hormone production from the ovaries.
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR INSOMNIA
Now we get to the fun part - fixing your insomnia! There is no end to the number of remedies and suggestions out there to help you sleep better, that doesn’t include popping a heavy-duty sleeping pill that leaves you feeling foggy and groggy the next day.
We invite you to read the following four suggestions and choose one that really resonates with you. Try it consistently, every day, for two weeks. If your sleep still hasn’t improved, try adding in another remedy or ritual. Continue trying things in this way until you’ve cracked your sleep code and are waking up feeling super refreshed and ready to face the day!
1. Magnesium - Magnesium is both a muscle and nervous system relaxant, meaning that it will help calm your body and mind for restful slumber. I find that many women with hormonal imbalances and sleep issues are deficient in magnesium, and bringing this nutrient up to par in your body may be great for your sleep. We recommend our Eliminate powder as the best form to take. Be consistent in taking the magnesium for a few months to see how it will work for you.
2. Tart Cherry - One of the only food sources of the sleep chemical melatonin, eating cherries or taking tart cherry juice could help your slumber. Tart cherry juice concentrate can be found in most health food stores. Follow the directions on the bottle for adding a serving of concentrate to a cup of warm water, and drink 1-2 hours before bed.
3. Laptop Curfew - Giving yourself a laptop curfew, or a time before bed when all screens are turned off is imperative for healthy, rejuvenating sleep. Whether you’re emailing, watching TV, flipping through Facebook on your phone or using any other device with a screen, turn it off at least one hour before going to sleep.
Why? Well, the simple reason is that these devices cognitively stimulating, making you feel more awake. Additionally, when your brain becomes revved up, it often puts our body into “fight or flight” mode, increasing stress and stress hormone output. What we want for good sleep is to be in “rest and digest” mode - and screen time won’t get you there. Lastly, the blue light emitted by these devices delays the production and release of your sleep hormone, melatonin because your hypothalamus (itty-bitty part of your brain) becomes stimulated.
4. Bedtime Tea - Below I’m outlining a recipe to create your own version of bedtime tea. All the herbs in my suggested tea formula below can be used alone, or in combination with other herbs not mentioned, should you choose to do that. The tea can be enjoyed 1-2 hours before bed, to relax both the mind and the body.
1/2 part dried lavender buds
1 part dried chamomile flowers
1 part dried milky oat tops or oatstraw
1 part dried nettle
1 part dried passionflower
1 part dried valerian
Place 1 tsp of the mixed herbs into your cup. Use a tea filter if you wish. Pour 8 ounces boiling water over the herbs. Cover the cup, and steep for 10 minutes. Uncover, remove the herbs and drink. This tea can safely be taken daily for a long period of time unless otherwise recommended by your natural healthcare practitioner or doctor.
Written by Robyn Srigley
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