Now, you may be thinking, what on earth has what I eat got to do with how I sleep? Can a Nutritional Therapist really help?
You may be surprised to learn that actually, yes! The food you eat, among other factors, can be a really important part of your strategy to help you sleep better naturally. Read on, to find out how nutritional therapy can help you.
Identifying what is impacting on your sleep
Firstly, I practice holistically – exploring the whole picture of you and how you live your life. So while I am especially concerned with what, when and how you eat, I also consider a whole range of other factors that may be having an impact on your symptoms. These could be things such as how you experience and manage stress, your hormone balance, gut health and really importantly, your health history. As an aside, whatever symptoms you come to me for help with, I will always explore sleep as part of my assessment process.
Why? Well, how well we sleep (or not) affects everything and I mean, EVERYTHING!
Consuming the right foods for sleep
Secondly, to make all the hormones and neurotransmitters we need at the right time to help us sleep well, plus all the ‘co-factors’ (vitamins and minerals that help the important processes to happen!) we need to eat enough of the ‘raw materials’ that we use to make all of this! These raw materials come from our diet – they need to come from the food we consume.
Focus on absorption
Thirdly, it’s not just about consuming the right foods (although this is a great starting point!). It is about getting enough and this is where absorption comes in. You may previously have heard – ‘you are what you eat’ but it is more accurate to say – ‘you are what you eat, absorb and are able to utilize!’ (I know, it doesn’t quite that the same ring to it!).
So, it is about optimizing your digestion so you are able to absorb everything that you need for the raw materials and co-factors to make things happen as they should.
What else might be getting in the way of sleep?
And lastly, it is about looking at what else might be getting in the way. It is important to consider your sleep environment and your evening wind-down routine. Then, there are a wide variety of situations that can impact on the quality and quantity of your sleep.
These might be specific conditions, diagnosed or undiagnosed, like sleep apnea (temporary stopping breathing), which causes you to wake frequently. Sleep can often be more difficult during perimenopause or when other hormones are imbalanced, in particular, cortisol (our major stress hormone) or our thyroid hormones (particularly when feeling unrefreshed on waking).
There are also specific nutrient deficiencies such as iron or magnesium which can impact on sleep. Iron deficiency* can also be part of ‘restless leg syndrome’ which can really get in the way of a good night’s slumber (for the kicker or any other unfortunate in the same bed!).
In conclusion, to get to the root of any sleep issue, it is important to systematically explore what is going on and what specifically may be impacting on sleep, before seeking to then rectify using diet, supplementation and lifestyle changes. This is how I work as a nutritional therapist, in helping you to understand, manage & heal the root causes of your poor sleep so you can find the freedom to fulfil your dreams!
For my ‘Power of Sleep – top 8 tips for getting a better night sleep’, sign up here: https://www.subscribepage.com/slumber_well
*Please note, the answer is rarely to supplement iron which can be highly toxic to our bodies, but to explore what is going on/what are the root causes of low iron.