What Your Sleep Problems May Be Telling You

Can't sleep? Feel restless? Wake up in the middle of the night? Here's why and what to do about it.

One of the hallmarks of a sound body (and mind) is quality sleep. If you’re not getting it, you’re not alone: Almost 70 percent of Canadians report poor quality sleep. But there’s a lot to be said about what kind of insomniac you are. Lorna Vanderhaeghe, founder of Smart Solutions, explains what your sleep problems may be trying to tell you about your body. (Also, you may want to know the signs you should see a sleep doctor.)

Support Your Adrenal Glands

If you drift off to sleep without a problem but wake up suddenly at 2 or 3 a.m., wide awake, it could mean your cortisol is peaking at 2 or 3 in the morning instead of 6 or 7 a.m. (when it is supposed to). ”All of that increased cortisol will make you feel like you should get up and out of bed,” says Vanderhaeghe. To combat cortisol levels, take adrenal support nutrients (like ashwagandha and Schisandra berries) with a protein-filled snack during your mid-afternoon slump. Add plenty of stress reduction, like box breathing, which can easily be done at 2 am in bed. (Here are other reasons you wake up in the middle of the night.)

Black-Out the Bedroom

“Insomnia can be caused by not having enough melatonin, the sleep hormone,” says Vanderhaeghe. To make sure that your bedroom is pitch-black, she recommends blacking out window light, covering up any electronic devices with electrical tape and turning off the bathroom and hall lights to signal your brain to secrete enough melatonin. “This is important because melatonin is your anti-aging and sleep hormone and protects you from certain types of cancers.” If you want to supplement melatonin, the less you take, the better. “If you feel groggy in the morning, you’ve taken too much,” she says. (Here’s what happens to your body when you take melatonin.)

Up Your Magnesium

When you hop into bed, do you have restless legs? Twitchy eyelids? Feel like you have bugs crawling all over you? Or maybe you can’t stop thinking or calm down? All of these may be signs of a magnesium deficiency. The mineral is responsible for 300 reactions in your body; and if you don’t have enough magnesium, you can’t relax and fall asleep. You can add it to your diet, in nuts and fatty fish, or take a supplement. But make sure you know this before taking a magnesium supplement.

Next, learn the magical tip from a sleep doctor that can help you fall asleep fast.

Originally Published in Best Health Canada