Sleep is an essential aspect of health. It is how the body repairs itself and regulates hormonal function. Many people however, suffer from sleep impairment. This is often due to the nervous system being stuck in the sympathetic dominance mode as a result of the over-stimulation and stressors of day to day life. Fortunately, there is a lot we can work on to improve sleep quality, onset and maintenance with Naturopathy.
Some Nutritional Considerations:
Meals must be regulated throughout the day to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Adequate protein to promote inhibitory neurotransmitter synthesis. Protein requires repletion which is best delivered in larger doses at night-time in combination with essential fatty acids to enable sufficient relaxation. Optimise HCL and digestive enzyme secretions. Utilise bitters which have been shown to support the parasympathetic nervous system.
Ensure that night-time meals are light and easily digestible
Avoid stimulant foods in evening
Determine if any food allergy or intolerance is present that precipitates an adrenaline (epinephrine) reaction interfering with sleep initiation.
Support Tryptophan-Melatonin conversion pathways (nutrients needed include Iron, Calcium, Zinc, Magnesium, vit C, B vitamines) Zinc and B6 have a vital role in sleep regulation, so deficiencies should be investigated if sleep impairment is evident.
Reduce caffeine consumption
Specific Nutrients for Therapeutic Effects:
B’s (A.M.) -Zinc
Essential Fatty Acids
Eschscholzia californica (Californian poppy)
Humulus lupulus (Hops)
Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower)
Piper methysticum (Kava)
Scutellaria lateriflora (Skullcap)
Valeriana officinalis (Valerian)
Zizyphus spinosa (Zizyphus)
Matricaria recutita (Chamomile)
Hypericum perforatum (St Johns wart)
Sleep hygiene is key, making sure to turn off all technology and practice deep breathing or meditation 30 minutes before bed.
Limiting blue light exposure in the late evening
Creating a sleep routine that promotes relaxation (warm bath before bed, light reading, journaling)