Achieving Sound Sleep?
Sleep and MS. Adequate sleep is just as essential as proper nutrition and stress management, in maintaining your health. It can cause grumpiness, increasing the likelihood of accidents, reduce our ablity to function at our best and affect recovery.
According to The National Institutes of Health adults need seven and a half to nine hours of sleep each night, but tend to be shy of that goal. Most time, those diagnosed with MS weren’t heavy sleepers before their diagnosis and struggle to allow themselves this seeming luxury even when they are interested in doing all they can to heal. But sleep is a great starting point on the path to health and necessary for recovery. Getting by with 6 or 7 hours a night, will not allow you to achieve your full potential and will hinder your body’s ability to self-heal.
Benefits of Adequate Sleep
Sleep is not a luxury but necessary.
- It can help increased efficiency and creative problem solving abilities
- It has anti-aging benefits and affects hormone production
- It reduces sugar cravings and hunger and helps with appetite control (meaning you can lose weight by getting enough sleep).
- It affects immune function
- It reduced the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
- Healing happens when you sleep
- Increased overall life expectancy
Dreaming is Necessary
When we are dreaming (REM), we are actually helping ourselves better cope with life’s stressors. When we dream, our brains release a consoling neurochemical bath that mollifies painful memories and creates a virtual reality space in which the brain melds past and present knowledge, inspiring creativity. Without enough sleep, we might feel incapable of dealing with stressful issues and moody.
Are you Getting Enough Sleep?
If you are not sure if you are getting enough sleep, ask yourself:
- After waking up in the morning, could you easily fall back asleep at 10 or 11am?
- Can you function without caffeine optimally before noon?
- If you didn’t set an alarm clock, would you sleep past that time?
Having Trouble Sleeping?
There are many reasons why sleep can be elusive and many ways to address them and get a better night’s sleep.
For example, magnesium calms and relaxes the muscles. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is a precursor to melatonin and can be found in many foods (see food list below). L-Theanine is another amino acide that stimulates the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that tells your brain to relax.
Balancing cortisol is important as well. Your stress hormone can get out of whack and disrupt sleep patterns.
Address Your Circadian Rhythms
“Hormones are like a symphony and circadian rhythms are the conductor”
Circadian rhythm allows your body to assign functions based on the time of day (and whether or not you are asleep); for example, prioritizing tissue repair while you are sleeping, and prioritizing the search for food, metabolism, and movement while you are awake.
The circadian clock is set by a variety of external factors, but most importantly by daylight and darkness (also called the light-dark cycle). In order to have healthy circadian rhythms, your circadian clock needs to be set correctly. Not everyone’s circadian rhythm is the same. For some, the peak of wakefulness arrives early in the day (morning person~ 40% of the population) and for others the peak of wakefulness arrives later in the morning (night owls! 30% of the population). The remaining 30% fall somewhere in between. Are you working with your natural circadian rhythms or against them?
Adenosine, the Sleep Chemical
Most of us have heard of melatonine, but have you heard of Adenosine? Adenosine is an internal chemical of the body that tells our body’s to sleep. Adenosine builds up continuously throughout the day, increasing the desire to sleep. The more Adenosine, the sleeper we feel. Caffeinated substances block this signal by latching onto the receptor sites meant for Adenosine. Caffeine can continue to affect Adenosine for up to 12 hours.
Alcohol can also effect our sleep. Though it may help put you to sleep initially, it blocks REM (the dreaming state) during the night.
Foods for Better Sleep
There are many foods that can help with sleep. They can provide amino acids, hormones and minerals necessary for our bodies to relax and rest.
- Cherries – dried cherries and tart cherry juice contain melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy
- Grass-fed beef, wild game, and turkey are a natural source of tryptophan
- Pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and almonds – a rich source of relaxing magnesium
- Hard boiled eggs – a good source of protein and fats to stabilize blood sugar throughout the night
- Seafood- high in long chain omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) promote brain health. If you get adequate omega 3’s you secrete less cortisol
- Invest in herbal supplements with sleep-promoting ingredients
Also eating a well-balanced dinner at a reasonable hour, (not too close to bedtime), can help our bodies prepare for rest.
Habits to Help you Snooze
What habits can help you snooze more effectively?
- Get exercise- activity during the day (morning over night time) has been shown to support melatonin production.
- Get natural sunlight- sun exposure promotes melatonin production.
- Blood sugar balance- both cortisol and melatonin are sensitive to swings in blood sugar
- Be social during the day, and relax in the evening.
- Use lavender essential oil in a warm bath or diffuser in your bedroom.
- Make it a rule to avoid screens in the hour before bed, this means computers or tablets, televisions, and cell phones, (blue light).
- Wear an eye mask or get black out curtains to create darkness in a room with light pollution
- Sleep in a cool room- temperature affects your circadian clock (65-68 degrees).
- Start a nightly calming routine with relaxing herb teas – chamomile, lavender, and passionflower are often included in night time tea blends. Reducing stress will help regulate cortisol.
- Take an Epsom salt bath before bedtime.
- Embrace the seasons- it is natural for us to sleep a little more in the winter and less in summertime. Eat seasonally, which will help regulate melatonin and cortisol based on their relationship to insulin.
If you’d like to contact Madia Jamgochian and learn more about ingredients that heal, visit her page – www.myhealinghabits.com or her Facebook page : My Healing Habits
Where Do You Go from Here?
Would you like support in addressing the beliefs, behaviors, and stressors that might have contributed to your MS and help you rebuild your health from the inside out? Reach out for individual sessions to dive deep into your path of healing with Eva M Clark at (415) 699-2574 or contact me here to schedule a FREE 20-minute consultation.
You can find more videos and posts like this one by visiting the Creating Health Series.
This series was produced by Eva M Clark and recorded at the National MS Society Self-Help MS Group in Santa Cruz, CA. The National MS Society respects the rights of people with MS to obtain any and all information they want related to MS, including information on wellness, medical treatments or complementary therapies, and products or services. The information presented at these meetings does not necessarily reflect the views or official position of the Society, nor carry the endorsement or support of the NMSS. Read our disclaimer here.