Are you sleeping better? Perhaps you have made some improvements to your bedroom or hotel room if traveling, creating a better sleeping environment for yourself after reading my first article.

I hope to inspire you to upgrade your quality of sleep by a simple adjustment or two. Remember, the goal is to drift off to sleep easily and get back to sleep quickly if you wake up during the night. 

Insomnia or poor sleep is one of the most common complaints I see in clinical practice. We all know how important good sleep is, yet how many of us get a good night’s sleep every night? Life can be so busy, full of choices and stimulation that when bedtime rolls around, you might feel wired but tired. 

Areas to support for more ZZZZ’s

Let’s highlight a couple of important items from my checklists: 

Food first

Caffeine and sugar intake should be evaluated to see if they’re keeping you awake or elevating cortisol (a primary stress hormone) during the night. If you wake up and can’t easily return to sleep, your cortisol is likely elevated. After eliminating stimulants after 1 p.m. or 2 p.m., consider a protein snack at bedtime or if you can’t get back to sleep. Here are my three favorites: 

  1. A boiled egg
  2. A few slices of turkey, with or without the mustard!
  3. Almond butter on a rice cake, or a small handful of raw nuts

Blood sugar handling and stress

The best way to balance your blood sugar/glucose levels is to take care of the glands, organs and systems that regulate this important function. Guess which ones are involved? 

  • Pancreas 
  • Liver 
  • Musculoskeletal system 
  • Endocrine system 
  • Nervous system 

If you chose all of the above, you’re right! One of the many reasons I like to emphasize balancing carbohydrates, proteins and good fats during meals and snacks is to keep blood sugar levels as flat as possible. Eating healthy meals and snacks will support good blood sugar metabolism. This translates to a good night’s sleep. Why? Waking in the early morning hours is often a sign of being out of fuel or hypoglycemia and if your diet is well-balanced, you will sleep better, feel more refreshed and be able to function more fully.

What you drink may affect your sleep:

These beverages can adversely affect your sleep. Which ones can you minimize or avoid, especially late in the day? 

  1. Sodas 
  2. Coffee 
  3. Tea (hot and iced) 
  4. Alcohol, beer and wine 
  5. Allergy-producing beverages containing wheat, corn/ high-fructose corn syrup, soy, dairy, sugar, and artificial sweeteners 

What you eat can affect your sleep too:

These foods can adversely affect your sleep. Which ones can you minimize or avoid, especially late in the day? 

  1. Chocolate 
  2. Sweets & treats
  3. BBQ/smoked foods (may create indigestion)
  4. Rich foods (may create indigestion)
  5. Heavy meals (may create indigestion)
  6. Simple carbohydrates (white rice, potatoes, bread and pasta – most common ones)
  7. Depending on sensitivities or allergies, food that contains wheat, corn, soy, dairy, sugar and MSG.

Hopefully, this had shed some light on areas that can improve your sleep. I have said for years that good sleep isn’t a luxury – it is a mandatory part of a balanced, healthy life.

Until next time, make peace with good sleep habits and rest well!

Part two in a three-part series on sleep