This week we’re looking at the importance of sleep in all areas of our health. Lack of sleep is a problem many of us face. However, a persistent lack of sleep can signal other things are happening in our bodies.
Often there are simple solutions, such as timing your exercise throughout your day or limiting caffeine.
One of the most common scenarios I see with clients who experience persistent sleep problems is nutrient deficiencies in zinc and magnesium.
We know that a consistent bedtime routine helps to promote good sleep hygiene. For some of us, going through the motions of winding down before bed simply isn’t enough. So, what else could be going on?
If you have young kids who demand your attention or wake up, disrupting your bedtime routine, there are a few things you can do.
You have a nutrient deficiency. The first thing we do with clients at the BePure clinic experiencing sleep issues is to check their zinc and magnesium levels.
Zinc is involved in over 200 enzymatic reactions within the body. One of these interactions is supporting the body's natural cortisol rhythms. Cortisol naturally peaks in the morning and declines to prepare the body for sleep. Testing for zinc deficiency is easy and can be done with a functional taste test.
Magnesium is vital for promoting sleep. It’s one of the reasons taking an Epsom salts bath before bed is effective. Epsom salts are rich in magnesium and the warm water raises your core temperature before you lie down in a cooler room. Ensuring you take your essential nutrients (containing a good dose of magnesium) daily, can help support healthy sleep patterns.
Your circadian rhythm is out of sync. We’ve talked about the natural cycle of your internal circadian rhythm previously. One of the reasons for this is because work goes against the natural rhythms of day and night. We often aren’t out in nature enough during the day. While after nightfall we use harsh synthetic devices such as our phones, laptops and TV’s.
To get back in sync, I recommend spending 20 minutes per day outside at lunchtime. This allows your body to get its daily dose of vitamin D and register that it is daytime.
At nighttime, I recommend limiting your electronic use after dusk. Turn your phone or iPad on to flight mode to prevent notifications. Software like f.lux, mimics your natural soundings. It makes the colour of your computer display warm at night and bright during the day. This allows your body to wind down in the evenings.
Your liver needs support. Another common scenario we see at the BePure clinic is people who frequently wake at 3am and struggle to get back to sleep. This is often a sign that your liver is struggling to clear toxins and hormones.
You can improve the health of your liver through your diet. Reduce liver loaders such as caffeine, sugar and alcohol, while increasing foods that help the liver to detoxify; citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables and cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage.
If you do have issues with sleep and your liver I recommend working with a health professional to who can provide detox support, essential nutrients and lifestyle strategies to help.
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We are all unique. Our genetics, our environments, our lifestyles, our emotional wellbeing. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to health and wellness or a single solution to your health concerns. If you want to learn more about your personal health story, Ben is touring to 30 cities around NZ presenting his new, 'What's Your Health Story?' seminar now. Learn more here.
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