Is getting quality sleep a constant problem for you? Is it making you exhausted and interfering with your job and family life? Dr. Donald Ellsworth shares his words of wisdom and sheds light on what you can do to get a good night’s sleep.
0:17 You really want to make your bedroom, your sleeping area, a sanctuary for getting a good night’s sleep, and there are some basics to that.
0:57 One thing most of us don’t think about, because it’s unseen, is the effect of electricity and electromagnetic fields. Things like alarm clocks or other electronic devices can disrupt our sleep.
2:07 You don’t want to work in bed. You really want to condition your body to think, when I lay down at night, I’m going to sleep.
2:41 Our deepest, our best sleep tends to be between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., so it’s really best to be asleep during that time, and again, be in a routine, don’t change things.
3:20 One mistake the people often make when they’re having trouble sleeping is they’ll watch TV until they get sleepy, but one of the problems with TV is it can be quite stimulating, and could actually make it harder to get sleep.
6:00 Now, hormonal changes have a huge impact on trouble sleeping.
6:54: Now low thyroid is a common cause of trouble sleeping as well, and this is a little confusing, because you think thyroid gives you energy, so why would you sleep better if you had thyroid on board.
Listen to Dr. Ellsworth’s Podcast:
Dr. Ellsworth: All right, today, we’re going to be talking about how to have a good night’s sleep, and address one of the most common problems that people regularly report when they come to see us, which is trouble sleeping. I’m Dr. Donald Ellsworth of Hotze Health & Wellness Center, and first, let’s just talk about some basics.
You really want to make your bedroom, your sleeping area, a sanctuary for getting a good night’s sleep, and there’s come basics to that. One is to get the room as dark as possible. You want to get some things that will really block out light, and you may even want to use a sleep mask to really help keep the light out. The other thing is going to bed at the same time regularly helps your body get into rhythms. Your body really does like rhythms, and cooler is better than warm for sleep. The temperature at 70 or below works best when you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep.
One thing most of us don’t think about, because it’s unseen, is the effect of electricity and electromagnetic fields. Things like alarm clocks or other electronic devices can disrupt our sleep. There is a real problem in our culture today because of the cell towers and the routers that we use. We have so much electromagnetics that it could interfere with many of us getting a good night’s sleep.
A simple way to check for that is to buy some relatively inexpensive devices which measure the electromagnetic fields, and you can check and see. I found it to be very enlightening to do that. What you’ll find is things like the cordless phones, especially the base, puts out a lot, so keeping those devices away, moving the alarm clock further away. Speaking of alarm clocks, go with something that’s more gentle, like some music that builds up, not something that is a loud, jarring type of sound, because that triggers your body for a stress reaction, which could interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.
You don’t want to work in bed. You really want to condition your body to think, when I lay down at night, I’m going to sleep. Whereas if you’re having your laptop and your problem-solving and you’re working at night, you can easily get your body confused as to what you’re there for, and the conditioning, you really want to have the idea, I’m laying down, I’m going to sleep. The more you can stick to that, the better you’ll be able to get to sleep in a quick fashion.
Now, you want to go to bed earlier rather than later. When you have trouble sleeping, trying to get to sleep earlier tends to work better. Our deepest, our best sleep tends to be between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., so it’s really best to be asleep during that time, and again, be in a routine, don’t change things. Of course, the obvious would be don’t drink a lot of fluids prior to going to sleep, and you want to be generally avoiding caffeine when you’re having trouble sleeping, so you at least want to limit it to the morning or very early afternoon. Sensitive people sometimes have to get off caffeine completely. A snack before going to bed that has a lot of protein can sometimes help keep your blood sugars where it needs to be and also support the production of tryptophan and serotonin.
One mistake the people often make when they’re having trouble sleeping is they’ll watch TV until they get sleepy, but one of the problems with TV is it can be quite stimulating, and could actually make it harder to get to sleep. A couple of simple tricks that you might try if you’re still having trouble is taking a hot bath or shower before going to bed. When your body temperature goes up, it tends to make you sleepy. We’ve all noticed that, right? One thing that I tend to do is use, far infrared sauna puts out a healthy type of light that heats up the body and can detox, but it also, by warming up the body, can induce sleep, so that’s another way where you can both help with sleep and detoxification.
If you listen to relaxing music, that’s something that’s uplifting, those are the things you want to focus on before going to bed, and that works a lot better, by the way, than using alcohol or other unhealthy ways to relax. By doing that, you’re also getting into your routine, okay? I’m starting to gear down, I’m going to be going to sleep. Your body will be able to get into that routine, so putting on some music that helps you relax, listening to a sleep app that walks you through something relaxing, reading something spiritual or uplifting as you’re going to sleep. Those would be better activities for winding down. Again, I mentioned alcohol, one of the negatives of alcohol, it does help you go to sleep, but it usually makes you wake up as it wears off.
Exercise is great for trouble sleeping, but generally, you want to exercise earlier rather than later. If you exercise in the morning, it often helps you sleep. If you exercise at night, in many people anyway, it can stimulate them so that they have trouble sleeping.
Of course, losing weight helps with your ability to sleep better, and a lot of us have food allergies. This is something that the medical community usually is poor at addressing, but things like gluten, wheat, barley and rye, dairy, eggs and other foods you can react to, and you may want to be tested for that if you’re having an ongoing sleep problem, because just reacting to a food that disagrees with you could keep you up.
Now, nutritional deficiencies frequently contribute to the problem of insomnia, and I’ll be talking about nutritional deficiencies and as well as some hormonal problems that can cause insomnia, trouble sleeping. Low magnesium, very common. Number one would be magnesium, because we regularly see magnesium help with sleep as well as other problems like muscle aches and headaches. Low B vitamins, particularly folate or the active form methylfolate, as well as vitamin B6. Low vitamin D and potassium have also been associated with trouble sleeping.
Now, hormonal changes have a huge impact on trouble sleeping. Many women will come to see us as their hormone levels decline and have trouble sleeping. It could be the drops in the progesterone levels, it might be a drop in the estrogen levels, those are the two hormones in women that really make a big impact on sleep, and optimizing those two hormones makes a huge difference. As a natural practice, it’s a given that when we say use hormones, we’re talking about the real thing, not birth control pills, not anything artificial, exactly what your body makes. That’s what we mean by bioidentical.
Low melatonin, some people try melatonin and say, it didn’t really help me, and often it’s because there were other issues as well, like the hormones were off, but melatonin is very helpful at helping with sleep. We often find that the sublingual form, under the tongue form, works even better.
Now, low thyroid is a common cause of trouble sleeping as well, and this is a little confusing, because you think thyroid gives you energy, so why would you sleep better if you had thyroid on board. Well, sleep’s an active process. You actually have to have good thyroid activity in your brain in order for your brain to go from stage 1 to stage 2, stage 3, stage 4, into REM. That’s all an orderly active process that the body does best with good thyroid activity, and along with good thyroid activity, when your adrenals are off, that also makes your thyroid function off.
Another issue that goes along with adrenal dysfunction is, if you have elevated levels of cortisol at night, which is fairly common in certain stages of adrenal issues, you can have an awakening late in the day, and that will make it hard to sleep, of course. There are some things you can do for that, but you want to recognize that if the adrenals are off, it does affect your ability to sleep. A few other supplements that also are helpful for sleep would be, in addition to magnesium, melatonin, are 5-HTP, Inositol, GABA, and even the B complex vitamins which are best to take first thing in the morning.
We find that simple things that you might consider if you have ongoing issues with your sleep, one is called emotional freedom technique or EFT for short. You can read about that online and find some simple ways of tapping on acupuncture meridians can be very useful, and many people find that works quickly. Deep breathing exercises are simple, easy to do. You can just read about it and do them. You can also download some apps which will talk you through it.
By the say, speaking of apps, there’s inexpensive or even free apps that’ll walk you through some relaxation exercises, again, like relaxing your muscles, very useful for helping many people wind down. Spiritual reading or listening to something spiritual is also a great way to end your day. All those things will typically help restore a good night’s sleep.
We live in an age where it’s harder and harder to do what comes natural at the end of a day, sleep, but there are some powerful tools that you can address which will improve your sleep, and these things are something that most of us find a need for it. Most of us, at some point in our life, will need to do some active problem-solving to sleep better. I hope this helps you. This is Dr. Don Ellsworth of the Hotze Health & Wellness Center. Have a good day.