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You Need Sleep to Heal

This cannot be emphasized enough! Deep, restorative sleep is necessary if you want your body to heal from anything.

Sleep is often the missing piece of the puzzle in people’s plans for losing weight, healing their leaky gut, supporting their immune systems against viral invaders, and yes – healing from autoimmune disease. You absolutely need 7-8 hours of restorative sleep each night to sufficiently repair at the cellular level and keep your immune system strong. Restless nights not only make you feel lousy in the short-term, but lack of sleep literally creates a cascade of stress in the body, which weakens your overall immune system and contributes to metabolic chaos.

Here are some suggestions on improving your sleep quantity and quality:

  1. Try to stay on a regular schedule and go to bed by 10 pm. Each hour of sleep prior to midnight counts as two hours after midnight (for restorative purposes). If you are an extra-early riser for exercise or work purposes, go to bed even earlier. Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep…anything less that that is a deficit and it will eventually affect your health.

  2. Eat sufficient protein and healthy fat at dinner. Protein is needed for repair and fat is a long-burning fuel for your brain and body. Although I love adding collagen peptides to my morning coffee, a tablespoon or two at bedtime with a calming tea may also help.

  3. Avoid eating refined carbohydrates at dinner and/or bedtime. Blood sugar regulation is necessary for the body to stay asleep at night. Eating too many (especially refined) carbs at dinner or right before bedtime will cause a more rapid rise in your blood sugar levels, which will also cause the crash a couple or few hours later. If you wake up in the middle of the night feeling hungry or anxious…this may be caused by the low blood sugar levels.

  4. Avoid exercise near bedtime. You should avoid doing extended cardio or strenuous strength training about two hours before bedtime. Exercise is energizing and raises your cortisol levels, which interferes with sleep. However, relaxing yoga is fine in the evening.

  5. Avoid caffeine past 2 pm. For most people it takes between six to eight hours for your body to fully metabolize caffeine. It is recommended that you avoid all forms of caffeine eight hours prior to bedtime.

  6. Keep your bedroom dark. Pull down the blinds, close the curtains, and avoid the use of night lights as much as possible. Even more important – avoid the use of electronic screens for approximately 30 minutes before bedtime (this is a tough one!). Lying in bed while doing anything on your phone is the worst thing possible for sleep quality. Even five minutes of “white light” from a screen shuts off your melatonin production and wrecks the quality of your sleep.

  7. Use supplements to promote relaxation, if desired. It is perfectly fine to use supplements that help promote relaxation and calm, when needed. My favorites include: diffusing essential oils; melatonin (sublingual is best); herbal teas that include relaxing herbs like roman chamomile, valerian, hops; CBD oil.

I hope this has given you some ideas on how to help improve your sleep, and as always, let me know if you have any questions.

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