What you can do today to sleep better
Updated: Mar 23
Here’s what you can start doing today to sleep better.
You probably know that I do lab tests to find what’s causing my clients’ insomnia. But I realize that some of you just started having sleep issues or you’re not ready to invest in lab testing yet. I want to give you some things you can try now to see if they help. If they don’t help, then you know it’s time to dig deeper and do the lab testing to find out what’s physically causing your insomnia.
1. anti-inflammatory diet
One of the main causes of insomnia is that your body is releasing cortisol at night when it shouldn't. The primary reason your body releases cortisol is inflammation (cortisol as an anti-inflammatory hormone). There are a few common reasons for inflammation: food sensitivities, a pathogen in your gut, and toxins.
One way to reduce inflammation in your body is to eat an anti-inflammatory diet. This means eliminating common foods people are sensitive to which are gluten, dairy, eggs, soy and corn. Avoiding refined sugar, processed foods, and unhealthy oils (canola, sunflower, soy, etc.) will also help lower inflammation.
All of my clients do a food sensitivity test to find out what foods they’re sensitive to because you can be sensitive to “healthy” foods like broccoli and almonds which will cause inflammation. But if you aren't ready to test, the next best thing is to eliminate these usual foods that cause inflammation.
2. Get your hormones checked
Another cause of insomnia is hormone imbalance. Low estrogen, low progesterone, and high testosterone can all cause insomnia. A good starting point to look at your hormones is to do simple blood work with your doctor. If supplementing with hormones helps you sleep, then you’ve found the cause. (I don’t ever recommend supplementing hormones without testing-you can make things worse if you guess wrong!)
Although a basic hormone test from your doctor can be helpful, I use a comprehensive dried urine hormone test to see detailed information about your hormone levels and how they're being used by your body. This test also shows your cortisol rhythm throughout the day so I can see if you’re releasing cortisol at night when you shouldn’t be. As a functional medicine practitioner, I also want to know why your hormones are out of balance and address that, too, so you don’t have to supplement forever.
3. Support your adrenal system
If you aren’t sleeping, it’s guaranteed that your hormones are out of balance and your cortisol is dysregulated. When this happens, your body can’t respond to stress like it should. Adrenal support supplements with adaptogenic herbs can help.
Adaptogenic herbs are plants that grow in stressful environments like high altitude, extreme cold or with little sunlight. These plants produce chemicals that help them adapt to these stressful conditions. When we consume these herbs, we get the same stress-reducing benefits.
One of my favorite supplements with these herbs is Gaia Herbs Adrenal Health. It’s recommended to take adaptogenic herbs for 3 months and then take a break for a couple of weeks before starting again.
These supplements can help in the short term but they won’t work forever. You have to find out what’s causing your body stress and address it to fix your sleep long-term. As a functional health coach, I use lab testing to uncover what’s going on in your body that’s creating constant stress and keeping you from sleeping normally.
4. Support your liver
An unhealthy liver is another common cause of not sleeping well. When your liver can't handle all the toxins it’s supposed to detox, those toxins circulate in your bloodstream and create inflammation which causes your body to release cortisol. Your liver is most active between 1 and 3 am so this is a reason why many of my clients wake up at night.
Besides trouble sleeping, here are some other signs of liver issues:
Sugar and carb cravings
Some things you can do to support your liver:
Drink warm water with fresh lemon juice first thing in the morning
Take epsom salt baths
Do coffee enemas
Take a break from drinking alcohol
Take liver support supplements with herbs like milk thistle and dandelion
5. Lower your stress
There are 2 kinds of stress that affect your sleep: stress in your body and stress in your mind. Doing everything the tips above will help lower hidden stressors in your body.
You also need to work on lowering stress in your mind by managing mental and emotional stress better. I dive deeper into stress management with my clients, but this post has some things you can try today that will help lower cortisol levels so you can sleep better. You can try committing to 1 of these ideas for 30 days and see if you notice a difference.
If you’ve tried all of the tips above and you aren’t sleeping any better, there’s something deeper going on in your body and your mind that’s keeping you awake at night. That’s why I find everything both physically and mentally that is keeping you from sleeping well. Book a free call with me to find out how I can help you uncover what’s causing your insomnia and the simple steps you can take to sleep better soon.