Why is Sleep Important?
Sleep offers mental and physical restoration for the body which can present in different ways. A good night's sleep can help with your appetite control through hormone balance, as well as blood sugar management, blood pressure management, immune health, and mood. For children, sleep is vital for development and learning. During sleep, growth hormones are released to support the formation and repair of lean muscle mass as well as prime the brain for a day of good learning . On the other hand, sleep deprivation is a risk factor for the development of heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes. Not to mention the mood swings and brain fog, or difficulty concentrating (1).
How Much Sleep Do I Really Need?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following hours of sleep in the diagram below, but ultimately it's tailored to your needs (2). Rather than focusing on a strict number I like to ask patients simply, "are you getting restful sleep?" If you're feeling exhausted during the day, rely on caffeine, and nap frequently this may be a simple sign you're not getting enough.
My Top 10 Tips For Sleep Hygiene
Consistency: Form a consistent bed time routine
Limit Naps: only allow up to 30 minutes of napping, refrain from napping 8 hrs before bed time
Cut the Caffeine: Avoid caffeine intake 8 hrs before desired bedtime
Front Load Water: drink the majority of your water before 6 PM so you're not getting up at night
Naturally Fatigue: Utilize exercise during the day to help naturally fatigue your body
Watch Your Night Time Snacking: Avoid GERD triggering foods or alcohol 2 hrs before bed, opt for a protein rich snack instead
Limit Electronic Usage: Turn off electronics one hour before bedtime, take advantage of "bedtime modes" that set grey scale lighting and reminders
Relax: Choose a relaxing activity beforehand (bath, shower, stretch, read, journal, mindful meditation)
Cozy Up: Make your room comfortable (perfect temperature, clean, dim, calming noise)
Try Again: If you can't fall asleep, get up and try again
Sleep Promoting Snacks
Some of my patients still feel "snacky" or utilize a snack to balance their blood sugar control before laying down to rest. The optimal night time snacks are protein-rich or have natural occurring tryptophan, magnesium, or melatonin. Give these a try!
Tuna Lettuce Wrap with Dried Tart Cherries
Greek Yogurt Topped with Fruit (1/2 Cup)
Cottage Cheese Topped with Canned Peaches (Pro Tip: Rinse Them! Limit Fruit to 1/2 Cup)
A Handful of Nuts and a Dark Chocolate Square
Chia Pudding (1/2 cup of milk + 2 tbs chia seeds + 1 tablespoon sweetener of choice, soak for 2+hrs in the fridge)
Egg Salad Over Toast
Chocolate Protein Shake (My chocoholic self likes 1 tsbp Ghirardelli cocoa + 8 oz milk of choice + 1/2 banana + scoop of protein powder)
If you're still challenged with achieving good rest, perhaps some supplements can help you reach your goals. It's important to note these can aid falling asleep, but won't necessarily keep you asleep, nor do they replace sleep hygiene practices. I always recommend reviewing any supplement changes with your physician to find the right fit for you and minimize any unintentional drug interactions or unpleasant symptoms.
1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Sleep deprivation and deficiency. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency. Accessed March 4, 2022.
2. Hirshkowitz, M., Whiton, K., Albert, S. M., Alessi, C., Bruni, O., DonCarlos, L., Hazen, N., Herman, J., Katz, E. S., Kheirandish-Gozal, L., Neubauer, D. N., O'Donnell, A. E., Ohayon, M., Peever, J., Rawding, R., Sachdeva, R. C., Setters, B., Vitiello, M. V., Ware, J. C., & Adams Hillard, P. J. (2015). National Sleep Foundation's sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep health, 1(1), 40–43. Accessed March 4, 2022.
3. Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2012;17(12):1161-1169.
4. Ferracioli-Oda E, Qawasmi A, Bloch MH (2013) Meta-Analysis: Melatonin for the Treatment of Primary Sleep Disorders. PLoS ONE 8(5): e63773. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0063773
5. Ferracioli-Oda E, Qawasmi A, Bloch MH (2013) Meta-Analysis: Melatonin for the Treatment of Primary Sleep Disorders. PLoS ONE 8(5): e63773. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0063773
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10. Suraev A, Grunstein RR, Marshall NS, et al. Cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for chronic insomnia disorder ('CANSLEEP' trial): protocol for a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, proof-of-concept trial. BMJ Open. 2020;10(5):e034421. Published 2020 May 18. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2019-034421
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