woman sleeping on her front in a grey t shirt

How To Improve Your Sleep

Andy McGlynn

 

When it comes to advice on sleep be wary of any article listing different strategies to improve your sleep. It’s just not as simple as that, the causes of disrupted sleep can be varied and complex but hopefully, this article may help to shed a little more light on the subject.

Let’s look at an array of suggestions that could first be the cause of the sleep issue and then attempt to match up a solution to each one.  When it comes to solutions for disrupted sleep; ‘subtle’ is the best way to proceed.

Sleep disruption can be put into the following four categories:

  • Consistent disruption at the same time each night
  • Consistent disruption at different times each night
  • Difficulty getting to sleep
  • Difficulty in waking

woman sat on bed looking out of window

How To Improve Your Sleep

It’s common for clients to have this ongoing issue at the same time every evening, which can be put down to a physiological issue within the body such as liver function, lung function or bladder function or more sinister; parasite infestations. The recurring time and pattern can be broadly and briefly compartmentalised as follows;

 

CONSISTENT DISRUPTION AT THE SAME TIME EACH NIGHT

Waking before 1 am suggests a blood-sugar management issue and the focus should be geared toward addressing carbohydrate intake, the quality of carbs and when they are being consumed.

Broad solutions:

  • Adjust the intake of high GI foods in the diet after reviewing and accurate food diary to improve your sleep.
  • Consider putting the client through a phase of Insulin Sensitivity to help recover from the Insulin Resistance issue.
  • Review when the client consumes their carbohydrate during the day.

 empty bed in dark showing how to improve your sleep

 

Waking between 1 am and 3 am suggests an issue with the liver. Also look out for any sharp pain in the right shoulder blade and this will be consistent with a liver issue. From time to time the liver may struggle to detoxify or flush fully, perhaps it's handling more toxins than usual or needs a bit of gentle support.

Broad solutions:

  • Check if the client is currently taking any form of medication, this can often put pressure on the detoxification process of the liver.
  • Are they too loaded in toxicity from highly processed foods, or foods and drink with a high content of artificial additives?
  • Gentle liver cleanse herbs such as milk thistle can be useful if the diet has been adjusted with no change.
  • Slightly more advanced methods would be to consider Methylation tests.

 

Waking between 3 am and 5 am is normally connected to a lung issue or is quite common with individuals who are recovering from or have just recovered from an illness.  

Broad solutions:

  • Ramp up the consumption of anti-oxidants, particularly Vitamin E to improve your sleep.
  • Observe if you’re still waking after you’ve recovered from a cold.

 

CONSISTENT DISRUPTION WITH NO PARTICULAR PATTERN

This can come from a very expansive and broad set of causes, so be sure to consider the following and address the issue where possible:

Light in the room: Our bodies evolved over thousands of years to wake as soon as the light hits the skin.  This can be something as small as a red light emitted from an electrical device in the room.  Some people are more sensitive to this factor than others.

bedroom with light

 

Noise in the room: Using certain sleep apps, the noise level in the room can actually be recorded and will identify at what time the noise was present and whether it woke you.

Partner sleeping in bed restless: So many people are suffering from a poor night’s sleep due to their partner being restless in bed.  When it comes to how to improve your sleep, this can be the main culprit. The problem with this is that you tend to go through a micro-wake (sub 3 seconds) and you, therefore, won’t remember being woken but rather in the morning you will just generally feel un-refreshed.

Talk to your partner about perhaps some of the solutions to improve their sleep routine and do some research into the hormones that help to paralyse our muscles during sleep, these can be assisted with the supplementation of Glycine and Gabba supplements to improve your sleep.

Insufficient magnesium: Given that Glycine is proven to assist with a restful sleep and given that Glycine is a blend of Magnesium, and also coupled with the fact that most people are Magnesium deficient, getting yourself on to a high-quality supplementation of Magnesium can be a very powerful and effective way of helping you to sleep.

 

DIFFICULTY GETTING TO SLEEP

When it comes to how to improve your sleep, the first step has to be the discipline and desire to want to improve your evening routine.  Assuming you understand the importance of sleep from 10 pm onwards, you will know that optimal physical repair kicks on from 10 pm – 2 am.  If you simply cannot sleep anywhere near this timing, then review some of the possible issues below to improve your sleep:

Reversed cortisol pattern: Your cortisol is high when it should be low. This will be validated if you are waking to feel tired or struggling to wake in the mornings.

Wrong mindset: You should be calming yourself during the evening, and not looking at the bank account, emails or work matters that may be troubling you.  If you regularly fall asleep with these issues on your lap in bed, then you are relying on exhaustion to get you off to sleep.

Review of the diet due to incorrect or wrong foods/drinks being consumed at the wrong time: A lot of articles suggest you shouldn’t drink coffee after 4 pm, but this is not necessarily the case.  Often a lot of foods can be the culprit when it comes to keeping us awake. Try eating your slower GI carbs in the afternoon/evening to help you gradually relax into the late evening and eat your fats and proteins in the first part of the day.  

coffee in bed

Training too late in the evening: A guaranteed way of keeping yourself awake at night is to train for 30-40 minutes, perhaps with your personal trainer.  This is because the hormone cortisol is released toward the latter end of your workout.  Cortisol is actually your body’s natural painkiller and triggers a number of healing processes such as inflammation.

Bedroom too bright: Some say that your bedroom should be as dark as a cave. Review the place where you sleep and decide if it is dark enough at night or whether you have light creeping in through the blinds or curtains.

Forcing oneself to stay awake: When we think of how to improve your sleep, forcing oneself to stay awake is a common occurrence; and it's normally to stay up to watch a film or surf the web.  This comes down to discipline and understanding the importance of sleeping as near to 10 pm onwards as you can manage.

Restless Leg Syndrome: This can be horrific and almost impossible to get to sleep with.  If you have a sensation of trickling water, twitching or restlessness in your legs it's likely to be Restless Leg Syndrome, a quick google search will give expansive reasons as to why it may be happening and numerous relevant remedies.  

 

DIFFICULTY IN WAKING

This is somewhat easier to diagnose and make sense of when it comes to in regards to how to improve your sleep. Assuming the individual has gone to sleep at a fairly normal time and has felt like they have slept normally, then this is usually due to a low/sluggish Thyroid and/or adrenal fatigue coupled with likely a reversed cortisol pattern.  The solution is to restore and nourish the adrenals and assist with the ramping up of the Thyroid to improve your sleep. 

difficulty in walking


Increase Magnesium intake: This is the first starting point with clients who are overly stressed.  Magnesium is almost always heavily depleted in these cases and poor sleep quality or an inability to restore energy levels in the morning is often an indication that Magnesium is heavily depleted.

Assist morning energy: Try taking energising amino acids in the morning and foods containing such amino acids include red meat.  You may also want to try Liquorice extract/liquorice teas, this help to prolong the life of cortisol which, is needed in the morning to help us get out of bed and get moving.

Support Thyroid function: Healthy fats are going to have a positive impact on the Thyroid, so try eating good fats such as avocado in the morning with your breakfast.  You may also want to try Coconut oil, either used in the cooking or taken directly with some hot water.


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