Friday, August 2, 2013

Having trouble sleeping or staying asleep? Fix your insomnia for good without drugs.

Are you struggling with getting to sleep? 

Are you are waking up too early?  

Are you looking for solutions to help you get a deeper more restful sleep?

If so, please take time to read this as it might be just what you need to know as to how to fix your sleep problem for good without damaging prescription or over the counter drugs.

I had trouble with my sleep for years and I know how much of a struggle is can be for you.  

My sleep eventually got better as I learned what to do to help myself sleep and then applied that knowledge, making changes to my daily routine. 

Let me share a few things I learned that helped me, maybe they will help you.

Learning to shut off my computer or other mental stimulating things early helped me but I also made changes in my exercise and nutritional intake.  Since the body is made up of chemicals, foods greatly affect us as their chemicals interact with ours. 

Food actually can act like a medicine when used properly.

If I can't get to sleep or if I do wake up too early, I don't worry at all about it as this will make the problem worse. Here's what I do.

 I will eat some white rice with extra virgin coconut oil.  Eating a higher carb food like rice will quickly raise your insulin level, allowing your body to make more serotonin. From serotonin, the body makes "melatonin", known as the sleep hormone.  

The reason I world recommend coconut oil is that it will give your body and brain some slow burning fuel that it can utilize, other than the glucose. This will make such a positive difference, let me explain why….

Coconut oil will balance your blood sugar by giving your brain a slow and steady supply of fuel. It also feeds your brain in a different way than glucose so your brain won't run out of fuel when it burns through the carbs in the rice.

 One thing to consider is that eating a high carb meal like white rice before bed in the evening may help you sleep deeper as it raises your serotonin and melatonin like I mentioned above. Without a slow burning fat though or a little bit of protein, after your brain runs out of fuel from the carbs, it will wake you up.  This is a survival mechanism to alert you so you don't run out of brain fuel.  

Waking up several times during the night is bad though because it interrupts your deepest sleep stages 3 and 4 which is where your body rebuilds, makes hormones, consolidates memories, etc.  It's during our deepest sleep stages that we make our serotonin, dopamine and other brain chemicals.  If we are not getting our deepest sleep, then this will lead to a deficiency in our brain chemicals.  This can cause many problems one being overeating during the day which only will ultimately make our sleep issue worse.  Having enough serotonin in the brain is directly related to feeling satisfied when we eat, having less anxiety and avoiding emotional eating.

Not getting our deepest sleep is why many people may be wrongfully diagnosed with a mental illness such as depression, bipolar or ADHD when in reality, they just have a sleep disorder.  Fix the sleep disorder and the brain can then make enough of the chemicals it needs to work properly and the person's cognitive issues resolve. 

 If a person is feeling fatigued each day or many days, it probably has to do with the quality of their sleep.  If a person notices that they aren't dreaming, this is a tell tell sign that they aren't hitting their deep stage 4 REM sleep cycle. Stage 4 is where we dream and it is believed that we consolidate our memories.  

It may sound complex, but it's really not.  You don't have to understand why if you do the proper things to remedy the problem of course I always want to know why so this is for those who want to know the science behind it all.

  There is a book out called "Potatoes Not Prozac" by Kathleen DesMaisons that is a very good resource. It's here where I learned that you can eat a carb before bed to increase your serotonin and increase the quality of your sleep which will in most cases, alleviate depression by the underlying method that I mentioned above. I highly recommend visiting her site and supporting her work.  

So here's something to try according to this book..  Eat protein in your evening meal like a small piece of chicken or fish.  You don't need a lot.  Two hours after that maybe an hour before bed, eat a baked potato with preferably butter or coconut oil, preferably coconut oil but either is fine.  This will help you get to sleep.  If you do wake up too early, have some white rice already cooked and stored in the refrigerator.  Heat it up with some coconut oil or butter and enjoy it's yumminess.  

Keep the lights down low during this time so your brain doesn't get the signal from the bright lights and shut down your melatonin production, this will keep you awake.  

After eating, lay back down but don't do anything with too much mental stimulation such as Facebook or the internet.  Maybe read a book, watch a bit of TV to relax your mind, listen to a podcast or take a warm shower or meditate. TV helped me get back to sleep because watching something like a documentary is slow paced, could be boring and I would tend to fall back asleep.  The only drawback to this is the light generated by the TV so this might not be the best option. 

Doing these things, I'm confident that you will be back to sleep in no time.

As I mentioned before, you can use butter on your rice or potato instead of coconut oil, let me tell you more about this. 

I have learned that coconut oil is superior to butter in a few ways.  It is a plant source fat which is better for you but most of all it's fat or triglyceride content is about 50 or 60 percent MCT or "medium chained triglyceride"  I know that's a big word but what it means is it's a medium chain fatty acid.  

Medium chain fatty acids feed the brain in a different pathway than glucose.  They are transported directly to the liver where your liver will make "ketones"  Your brain then feeds on these "ketones".  The brain has only two fuels it can utilize, glucose or ketones.  Medium chained fatty acids are very interesting and rare in our diets so cooking with coconut oil is a good idea.  

The body will burn the MCT's in coconut oil more like a carb than a fat and people actually can use coconut oil to raise their metabolism and actually help them loose weight.  

This is why I recommend this over butter although butter has other things that can benefit the brain like cholesterol. 

 The best butter to use is butter from grass fed cows such as "kerrygold butter" from ireland. They sell this brand at your local health food store or some nicer supermarkets.  

When a grass fed cow makes milk, it's milk composition is very different from grain fed cows.  You can tell this by the way they look as well as the taste.  The omega 3 levels are much higher in grass fed and we all have heard how important is is for brain function to get more omega 3 fats in our diets.  So both butter and coconut oil can be beneficial but extra virgin coconut oil is my favorite. Make sure to get "unrefined"

One more thing to consider, keeping your nutritional intake high through fruits and vegetables and keeping your weight under control is so important as well to get a good nights sleep.  Especially watching your weight as many people, like myself, start suffering from "sleep apnea" when I put on too much extra weight.  Smaller portion sizes, coconut oil, lot's of high fiber vegetables and eating several meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism going are great things to do to fix this issue. 

Daily exercise also helps our mood and sleep as it also raises our brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.

 It took me years of struggling and much study to figure all this out and make all these connections.  Maybe the pain I endured during the process can help others in some way.  

I recommend that you look all this stuff up on the internet and read more about how they will benefit you, your overall health and maybe most important, your brain function as your brain controls everything you do.   

Like world famous Dr. Daniel Amen (who I esteem highly) says, "when your brain works well, you work well and when your brain struggles, you struggle."  

You can find much more of him on Youtube or the web in general and I highly recommend learning from this genius and supporting his work.
It's pretty cool, because you don't have to be a genius to reap the same rewards as one,  if you only follow them as your mentors, learn and apply their wisdom and knowledge.

 I hope that this helps you in some way.  If you want to discuss this with me further, you can find me here on Facebook.

Blessings -Rob

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