Wellness How To Optimize Your Sleep



If we don’t get enough of it, our body goes out of whack. Sleep deprivation can lead to a number of factors such as an increase in evening cortisol and decreased insulin sensitivity in the am. We are also more likely to crave energy-dense and high-carbohydrate foods, leading to weight gain and nutrient deficiencies.

These foods are usually considered “comfort food” such as refined carbohydrates, poor-quality fats, and sugar. And guess what? The more we eat them, the more we crave them. Excess carbohydrate leads to deficiency in proteins, malnourishment, and inability to rebuild them.

Lack of sleep also dysregulates hormones of appetite regulation like ghrelin and leptin, as well as fat cells. Since insulin promotes the release of leptin, if they lose their ability to respond properly to the hormone insulin, you will make less leptin and eat more, leading to weight gain (Hellmich, N. 2014).

Chronic sleep deprivation for more than 2 weeks can lead to increased ghrelin (our appetite-stimulating hormone, decreased leptin (satiety-promoting hormone), decreased thyroid functioning, increased insulin, feeling “too tired to exercise,” inability to cope with stress well, and promotes pro-inflammatory cytokines (Bauman, 2016).

Some of the causes of poor sleep include taking stimulants during the day like coffee, and energy drinks, and taking medication or drinking alcohol at night. It just makes it worse because they prevent deep sleep from occurring. Other causes include sleep apnea, stress, poor sleep hygiene (not sleeping in the dark), staying up too late for work, watching TV, and late-night eating.

  • Let’s talk about nutrition! Quality of food is a must. Eating clean, nutrient-dense, whole foods-building diet and following the eating-for-health model (3 meals a day with 2 snacks in between) is ideal. Incorporating prebiotic and probiotic foods such as Jerusalem artichoke, burdock, leeks, asparagus, and fermented sauerkraut, kimchi will help feed and repopulate the beneficial bacteria in the gut and improve insulin sensitivity. For weight management, eating protein and good-quality fats at every meal helps promote satiety and can help reduce food intake. Eating foods such as avocadoes, nuts and seeds, pasture-raised grass-fed animals, dairy, eggs, and olives. Fats like coconut, EVOO, butter, and ghee should be eaten in moderation. Getting a better night’s sleep can reduce the intake of refined carbohydrates and bad fats.
  • Eating this way can also aid in blood sugar control, help correct insulin and leptin resistance, and support the thyroid and adrenal glands. Foods that should be avoided are sugar, added sugars like sucrose, fructose, and artificial sweeteners, refined grains, processed vegetable oils, antibiotics, and hormone-produced commercial meats. These foods also contain high quantities of glyphosate, the active ingredient of round up, which is a harmful herbicide that can sometimes be found in produce, meats, and packaged foods. GMO foods such as soy, canola, sugar beets, and corn should be avoided as well.
  1. Schedule a sleep routine by going to bed by 10 pm and sleeping at least 8 -9 hours.
  2. Sleeping in the dark and reducing blue light exposure in the evening
  3. Avoid caffeine consumption at night
  4. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow
  5. Avoid watching TV late at night, or using the computer, or phone.
  6. Don’t eat at least 3 hours before bedtime to allow your body to rest and digest properly, this includes late-night snacking.
  7. Keep a food and activity journal as a means of staying mindful of what you are eating and feeling
  8. Getting a Massage, acupuncture, meditation, and deep relaxation exercises that promote restful sleep
  9. Drinking Tea-Yah! Herbs such as Hops, skullcap, passionflower, lavender, chamomile, and valerian are wonderful for relaxation and promoting good sleep.
  10. Any form of Movement is important such as exercise, dancing, swimming, hiking, or even normal physical activity like gardening or walking improves sleep quality and can help reduce symptoms of insomnia.
  11. Does the client have a good support system? Or feel alone? Opening up communication and having a good support system is very important for motivation, encouragement, and positivity. This also helps decrease stress and promote long-term health and wellbeing.

by Johanna Sambucini-Webb

  • Bauman, E., Friedlander, J. (2016). Therapeutic Nutrition. Part 1. Penngove, CA: Bauman College
  • Hellmich, N. 2014. How sleep loss leads to significant weight gain. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/20/sleep-loss-weight-gain/7507503/

Comments are closed