Many people with thyroid conditions have a difficult time obtaining quality sleep each night. Not getting a sufficient amount of sleep can definitely affect one’s recovery when following a natural thyroid treatment protocol. So what I’d like to do is list seven different things you can do in order to obtain better quality sleep.
1. Stay in bed longer. Even if you have difficulty sleeping, it’s a good idea to at least attempt to sleep for at least seven to eight hours, and more than this if at all possible. What many people do is they stay in bed, but since they have difficulty sleeping they watch television, which usually makes it more difficult to fall asleep. Yes, I realize some people claim they fall asleep better with the television on, but this is really a bad habit, as in order for your body to make the proper amount of melatonin you really need it to be completely dark while sleeping. So if you currently keep the television turned on at night, it’s important to train yourself to sleep with it when it’s turned off. Going on the internet late at night isn’t much better, and can also make it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
Even if you have difficulty sleeping, try to lay in bed for a minimum of seven to eight hours each night with your eyes closed. And try to go to bed no later than 10:30 pm at night (assuming you’re not working an odd shift), and then stay in bed as long as you possibly can. This is not only important in order to obtain sufficient sleep, but it will help to keep your cortisol levels balanced as well, as they should be lower at night and higher in the morning. But if you constantly force yourself to stay up late each night and then wake up early the next day, while getting less than seven hours of sleep, this will most likely cause an imbalance in the cortisol levels.
2. Eat well. Speaking of cortisol, eating a lot of refined foods and sugars on a frequent basis will also cause problems with your cortisol levels, which in turn will lead to adrenal problems. This once again can interfere with sleeping, and so eating a balanced diet consisting mostly of whole foods, drinking purified water, and minimizing the amount of refined foods and sugars you consume will not only help you to sleep better, but will also lead to overall greater health.
It’s also important not to eat late at night, as many people eat just an hour or two before going to sleep. If you feel the urge to eat at night then have a small snack that is high in protein, such as a small handful of raw almonds. But many people eat sugary foods before going to bed (i.e. a bowl of sugary cereal), which can make it difficult to fall asleep, and/or can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.
3. Avoid stimulants. This is especially true before you go to bed, as you need to avoid drinking coffee or anything else that contains caffeine. Similarly, chocolate and other foods which contain caffeine should also be avoided right before going to sleep. In fact, you should try not to consume any stimulants after 6pm, and you ideally want to minimize them from your diet altogether. Because if you drink a lot of coffee during the day but none after 6pm, you still might have problems obtaining quality sleep.
4. Obtain an Adrenal Stress Index test. Because many people with sleeping difficulties have weakened adrenals, and thus problems with their blood sugar levels, it’s a good idea to obtain an Adrenal Stress Index test. Obtaining such a test will help to determine your cortisol levels according to the circadian pattern, which can give some clues as to why you have difficulty sleeping, low energy in the morning, etc. Then the appropriate adrenal support can be given based on these findings.
The lab I use for this is Diagnos-Techs, as they use accurate reference ranges, have a relatively quick turnaround time, and the test is inexpensive when compared to some other companies which offer similar tests. The only downside is that you most likely will need a referral from a doctor, and it probably will need to come from a holistic doctor since most endocrinologists would mock you if you were to ask to have this type of test done.
5. Exercise daily. You want to engage in 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity at least three days per week, and preferably more than this. In fact, it’s a good idea to exercise daily, even if it only consists of 30 minutes of walking. Of course if you haven’t exercised in awhile then you will probably need to build up your endurance until you reach this point. But besides benefiting your overall health, being active daily and getting regular exercise will probably help you sleep better.
However, you might want to monitor the time of day when you exercise. For example, some people who exercise during the evening might actually have a more difficult time falling asleep, and so if this describes you then you will want to aim for exercising in the morning or early afternoon.
6. Consider taking nutritional supplements and/or herbs. Certain supplements can help with sleeping. For example, many people take melatonin to help them sleep. And for those people who have adrenal problems, certain herbs can also help one to obtain better quality sleep. For example, Ashwaganda and/or Rehmannia can help some people with high cortisol levels at night which can interfere with sleep. However, the ultimate goal is to be able to obtain quality sleep without having to rely on any pills or supplements, even if they are natural. But these supplements and herbs can be used on a temporary basis until your condition is corrected, and then at this point you can be weaned off of these supplements/herbs and should be able to obtain quality sleep on your own. I highly recommend not taking any of these supplements or herbs on your own, but instead consult with a holistic doctor.
7. Read before going to bed. This admittedly isn’t a proven method of helping someone fall asleep, but it works great for me, and many others who I have recommended this to. While I realize most people prefer watching television at night, as mentioned earlier, doing this can make it more difficult to fall asleep. If you must watch some television, block out some time to do this, and then follow this with some reading. For example, perhaps you can watch television from 8 to 9pm, and then do some reading immediate after this until you are sleepy and ready to go to bed. The same concept applies with going on the internet at night, as if you feel you must do this then block out a short amount of time to “surf the web”, and then read a book right after this.
By following most of these tips I have given, it should definitely help you fall asleep easier, as well as sleep through the night better. Just keep in mind that it probably will take some time to see changes in your sleeping habits, meaning that if you currently have problems falling and/or staying asleep, it probably will take at least a few weeks after incorporating the above changes before you notice a significant difference. But if you do make most of these changes, then in a short period of time you most likely will see some very positive changes in the quantity and quality of sleep you receive.
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