Do you struggle with sleep? Do you have a difficult time falling asleep? Do you find yourself tossing and turning at night? Do you constantly hit the snooze button in the morning to try and get that extra 6-9 minutes of rest? If so you may have a problem with cortisol and your circadian rhythm.
Did you know that your body has it’s own near 24-hour biological clock (aka: circadian rhythm)? Chronobiology is the study of how this biological clock regulates almost every function of life including sleep, arousal, feeding and a host of metabolic activities. Studies show that your genetics has a significant influence over your sleep habits and that this naturally varies from person to person.
A gene variant labeled Period1 has been identified that may account for a persons propensity to wake early or sleep in. Add in today’s lifestyle of artificial lighting, irregular work schedules and erratic eating patterns, it makes perfect sense that a persons natural sleep cycle is disrupted. So how can you honor your circadian rhythm for a healthy balanced life?
Because our master clock is directed by light cues through the retina (which reset the clock each day), one step you can take is to make sure that you are asleep during the dark hours of the day and awake during the daylight hours. However, if you are a shift worker or frequent traveler then you need to try and make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary by turning off all electronics, making the room as quiet as possible and removing any extraneous light by using blackout curtains for example.
Hormones such as cortisol and melatonin regulate our bodies activities while we are awake and asleep. If your hormones are out of balance, this will naturally effect your sleep patterns. One easy way to tell if you are having difficulty with these hormones is to get tested. I recommend a 24 hour urine cortisol test to access for imbalances in cortisol. You may also opt for a morning and evening blood cortisol test which is less accurate but still useful. Also, controlling blood sugar affects your adrenal glands and cortisol hormone. Taking supplements like melatonin can help some people.
Intermittent fasting and meal timing, in addition to its benefits for supporting weight management by regulating the hormones Ghrelin and Leptin, has also shown to provide a person with a better nights sleep. Having an eating window of only 6-8 hours (ie. eating between 12PM and 6PM) during the day provides many health benefits to the body. Choosing foods that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids (Salmon, nuts, etc.) and vegetables and spices high in polyphenols and flavonoids in addition to foods high in fiber that support glycemic balance are all good choices for healthy sleep.
Lastly, vitamin C, Zinc, Magnesium and B-complex vitamins as well as herbs like Holy Basil and Ashwaganda are important in maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm and balancing your HPA (Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal) axis.
At Stanly Wellness Center, we are eager and ready to help you and your families achieve the best health possible. If you are looking for help with your health or you know of someone who is suffering with poor health, call the office of Stanly Wellness Center at 980-355-7600 and schedule a FREE 15-minute consultation with Dr. Patrick Ess to see how he can help. We specialize in nutrition, detoxification and neurological correction. You can also refer to our website at www.AskDrPatrick.com for more information.