The Answers to Your Sleep Questions, Revealed!
By Darlene Kvist, MS, CNS, LN
January 16, 2017
Last week we took to the Nutritional Weight & Wellness Facebook page to find out what your most pressing sleep questions are (and we heard from many of you!). We narrowed them down to the most common ones and have shared the answers below.
Q: I sometimes really struggle to get up in the morning, despite getting to bed at a reasonable time. Why is this?
A: Oftentimes clients may be able to get enough sleep most nights, but consistency is really what is important. Some people believe if they get 6 or 6½ hours of sleep a night that is enough, but in reality they may need 9 hours to feel rested. If you’re getting 8-9 hours of sleep and you’re still feeling tired, are you sleeping through the night? If not, be sure to see some of the other answers below. Not sleeping through the night consistently can cause you to feel drained in the morning as well.
Q: How do I stop the need to urinate in the middle of the night, despite having stopped ingesting fluids at dinner?
A: There could be several culprits here. Drinking either soda or coffee could be the problem, since they are natural diuretics. You don't even need to drink them in the evening for them to cause a midnight bathroom trip. Another culprit could be blood pressure medication. Many blood pressure medications include a diuretic.
Q: Sometimes my brain won't shut off and even though I'm tired, I can't relax enough to fall asleep. How do I stop the brain chatter?
A: The first thing we always suggest is eating a bedtime snack that includes a healthy fat and a carbohydrate (such as blueberries with cream, half an apple with some almond butter, or half an avocado with some salsa). If your blood sugar crashes while you sleep, it can wake you from a sound slumber, but the combination of fat and carbohydrate will keep your blood sugar stable all night long. If the bedtime snack doesn't work, I suggest clients take 400-600mg of Magnesium Glycinate or 2-4 NeuroCalm at bedtime. Or, it could be as simple as cutting out coffee like Tina Beehler's mother did:
"My 73 year old mother who has lost 71 pounds* this past year after taking your Nutrition 4 Weight Loss 12-week course, has just lost many of her sleep issues! She stopped drinking her 2 cups of morning coffee 10 days ago. Since then, she only wakes up once each night to urinate (previously she would get up multiple times!). She reports dreaming vividly which she hasn't done in years! She is also spontaneously sleeping another hour every night. She believes her sleeplessness was caused by her morning coffee!" (Comment left on our Facebook page)
Q: If you have pain from compressed disks, how do you get a good night’s sleep? My husband has this issue and does take 400mg of magnesium each night, but it doesn’t seem to be helping.
A: A good place to start would be for him to remove gluten and sugar from his diet to reduce the amount of inflammation in his body. Removing dairy may be helpful as well. I’d also recommend 3,000-6,000mg of Omega-3 fish oil and 2-4 Kaprex. These will help reduce the inflammation that occurs around the compressed disks. But with any ongoing chronic condition, a nutrition consultation would probably be best.
Q: My husband wakes several times a night having to use the bathroom for no apparent reason. He’s 32, healthy, active, no prostate issues at all. Can’t figure this out—help!
A: The first few questions I would ask him: Does he drink soda? Or more than two cups of coffee a day? Or alcohol? If he answers yes to any of these, removing them from the diet would be a good place to start. If he doesn’t drink any of those beverages, taking Magnesium Glycinate or NeuroCalm before bed to help him reach a deeper level of sleep might just do the trick.
Q: How do I shut my brain off? I can lay awake all night with a SONG going through my brain over and over again. I am not stressed, I just can’t shut things out.
A: You may want to try increasing the amount of protein you’re eating, as well as supplementing with 5-HTP (start with 50mg and go up to 200mg if necessary). Doing these two things will help you make more serotonin, which will help regulate your sleep cycle. Then, if that doesn’t help, I would suggest removing gluten from your diet.
Q: I have issues getting a restful sleep because my digestive system seems to work more and faster when I am in a horizontal position sleeping. Does anyone else have this issue? Is there anything I can do about it?
A: It sounds as though you’re eating something that you’re sensitive to. People who have a “noisy digestive system” usually have a gluten sensitivity. You may also be sensitive to dairy products depending on how bad your symptoms are. This seems like an issue that warrants a nutrition consultation…it basically comes down to how long you can live with it!
Q: How do I stay asleep? I wake up between 8-20 times a night, just briefly, and then fall back to sleep. Any ideas on how to stop this awful sleep pattern?
A: There are many reasons why people could have difficulty staying asleep. This is one of those issues that is best discussed in a nutrition consultation, only because there are so many factors to take into consideration, such as diet, age, and deficiencies.
- When you're trying to fall asleep initially, it's important to have a bedtime snack consisting of a healthy fat and a carbohydrate. The combination of fat and carbohydrate will keep your blood sugar stable while you sleep. If your blood sugar crashes in the night, that could be enough to wake you. Balanced eating during the day is important as well.
- There are some other things to try, depending on age and other factors. You could try taking 400-600mg of Magnesium Glycinate at bedtime, or for deep, restful sleep, I take 2 NeuroCalm. I don't take it every night, but when I need it, it helps immensely.
- If you think your sleep patterns could be tied to menopause, you could try using Pro-Gest Cream.
- It is possible that your body is deficient in minerals, and introducing magnesium and calcium could help your sleep patterns.
- A sensitivity to gluten is something I see time and time again interfering with my clients sleep patterns. I have worked with children who have restless sleep, as well as adults who have had restless sleep their entire lives. Once they give up gluten, they are able to sleep through the night. The gluten sensitivity inhibits their ability to produce serotonin, which will affect their sleep cycle.
Q: I hear that having a bedtime snack will help me stay asleep; however, I get heartburn. Help?
A: If you’re getting heartburn from eating an apple and some almond butter, you definitely need to re-balance your digestive system with Acidophilus. You could also have a food sensitivity, and drinking soda during the day could be a culprit as well. You could definitely benefit from a nutrition consultation. Something is irritating your stomach lining…we just need to figure out what it is and eliminate it!
As you can see, there are so many variables when it comes to sleep issues and what might be causing them. The important thing to remember is that you don't need to struggle with sleep anymore! Here are some things to think about:
- Do you drink soda or coffee?
- Are you eating processed carbohydrates during the day?
- Are you taking any diuretic medications?
- Are you tired enough of being tired to change what you eat?
One thing that all of these issues have in common is they can be solved nutritionally. Most people need help coming up with a plan that will help them find the sleep they've been missing, and for those of you who need just that, the nutritionists at Nutritional Weight & Wellness are here to help and support you!
*Because everyone is unique, individual results vary.