8 Tips for Better Sleep
It’s important to get enough sleep- both to prevent illness and to fight Candida
What happens during sleep?
While it seems like we’re doing “nothing” while we sleep, the truth is exactly the opposite. Our bodies are accomplishing very important processes that can’t be done while we’re awake. And these tasks take no less than 7 hours to complete.
During sleep, we restock our supply of hormones, process significant toxins, repair damaged tissue, generate vital white blood cells for immunity, eliminate the effects of stress, and process heavy emotions.
When we’re well rested, it’s easier to make healthy choices because we have less cravings for quick energy foods (sugar and carbs).
Lack of sleep, stress, and sugar cravings
Our bodies are very smart and adaptable. When we don’t sleep long enough to fully recharge our energy, the body will ask for quickly available energy by giving us sugar cravings. That’s particularly annoying when eating the Anti-Candida diet. (DOWNLOAD PRINTABLE ANTI-CANDIDA DIET CHEAT SHEET HERE) So, one very important key to reducing sugar cravings is getting sufficient sleep (at least 7 hours per night).
Besides increasing sugar cravings, the body has another trick to make up for insufficient sleep. It will raise cortisol levels. Cortisol, the “feel good hormone,” is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland. Cortisol helps to make us feel awake and happy and ready to take on the world. It increases glucose (sugar) in the blood stream. This feeds Candida in the same way that eating sugar feeds Candida.
Normally, getting insufficient sleep for 1 or 2 nights won’t be a problem, but when it happens regularly (3 or more nights per week) it starts to create chronically raised cortisol and sugar cravings, which feeds Candida and weakens immunity.
Good habits for a restful night’s sleep
1. Allow ample time for sleep. That means at least 7 hours every night. If you are fighting Candida or suffering from IBS, I recommend allowing even more time, like 8-9 hours.
2. Try setting a “go to bed alarm.” My phone has an alarm set to go off every night at 9 pm, 1 & ½ hours before I want to be asleep. That’s when I turn off all electronics and start brushing my teeth and washing my face etc. By the time I’m finished with my whole bedtime ritual, it’s 10:00 or 10:30, and I’m relaxed and ready to sleep till I wake up at 6:30 the next morning!
3. Turn off all full-spectrum light for 1-2 hours before bedtime. This means no TV, email, video games, Facebook scrolling, etc.
For ideal sleep, melatonin should be rising steadily, and cortisol should be rock-bottom low at bedtime. But there’s a catch: the pineal gland secretes melatonin largely in response to darkness. And our evening cortisol levels are lowest in environments with low noise.
With our addictions to TV, video games, Facebook, Instagram, and email in the evening, however, our evening activity choices can get in the way of these natural pro-sleep chemical shifts.
These devices mostly display full-spectrum light which can confuse the brain and make it think that it’s actually daytime.
We also, unfortunately, tend to watch shows or view email that can be loud and/or stressful (e.g. the evening news, Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, work email, or tomorrow’s to-do list).
4. Finish dinner 3-4 hours before bedtime. Digesting food is an active function, and digesting a heavy meal eaten later in the evening can prevent or interrupt sleep.
You want to be finished digesting your final meal of the day by bedtime to encourage restful sleep.
5. Choose restful activities to end your day, such as reading an inspirational book, taking a warm Epsom salt bath, diffusing a relaxing essential oil such as lavender while enjoying 10-15 minutes of gratitude journaling. Anything you can do to set a restful and relaxing environment for sleep.
6. Make the room cool but not cold or hot. Extreme temperatures tend to wake us up. In addition to making us wake up to adjust the blankets, extreme temperatures naturally raise stress hormones which will promote wakefulness.
7. Run a fan or other white noise device. If you have an issue with noise when you sleep, try a device that produces white noise. I use a fan (pointed at the floor during the winter to avoid being too cold). I find that this little trick covers up all the little noises that can happen during the night without being so loud that it keeps me awake.
8. Don’t amp up your brain before bed. Avoid activities such as budgeting, balancing your checkbook, next-day-planning, or stressful conversations in the full hour prior to bedtime.
I also recommend no caffeinated food or drink at all after 2pm (e.g. tea (even green), coffee, soda, chocolate, mate); yes, it CAN affect you that many hours later.
Here’s to a restful sleep!
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