Hi, everybody. Kris Stokes from Custom Fitness, your Amarillo nutrition coach. Today we’re talking about improving your sleep. More detailed, we’re talking about changing up our sleep aid routine. Too often people are taking sleep aids on a regular basis and this is something I hear a lot as they come for nutrition consults with me or consultations in general. We sit down and talk about sleep because it’s such a huge part of our overall health. If you’re not sleeping right, you’re not only more likely to gain weight and not be able to get it off, but you’re more likely to live in more of a brain fog state, to disrupt the rhythm of your heart and your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. There’s a lot of things that are effected by our sleep that we don’t even think about. I think a lot of times we think of sleep as just something that we do if we need to but it’s not really required.
Well, our bodies are made to sleep. We are required physiologically to get sleep every day. Granted, you are able to stay up for a day or two or these record keepers staying up longer. But they have through research, proven how detrimental that can be to the body when you are put in a sleep deprived state. If I think back to college staying up all night long to study for exams and things like that, especially on final’s week when it’s day after day after day and by the end of the week you just feel kind of foggy headed and you feel exhausted but your body just doesn’t feel right. That’s what happens here. As we’re talking about sleep, people come in and they say, “Okay, well I take sleep aids every night because I can’t sleep without it.” Well, it’s kind of like saying that you can’t make it through your day without coffee. I know, there’s a lot of you who think you can’t but you actually could.
With sleep aids what happens is whether it is a natural form, say magnesium or melatonin, or whether you’ve stepped it up to the over the counter stuff with Tylenol PM or Advil PM, so on, or whether you’ve gone full grade medical and you’ve got sleep meds, the body is able to create patterns for sleep and allow the physiology of your body to do this with the hormones and things in play. Sometimes it gets disrupted by our lifestyle and so we take these sleep aids and it becomes an addiction. We take them every night because we’re so afraid that if we don’t take them that we won’t sleep well and we’re going to be exhausted all day. Well, that’s a true fear to have because if you’re exhausted you can’t do your daily work.
That leads us into this nasty cycle of taking them all the time. Why is that a problem? Well, it’s a problem because if you look at some of them they have effects kind of like Benadryl does or they’ll have Benadryl in them or similar types of things where it can actually change how your histamine’s response is working. If you look at melatonin, it’s an actual hormone. Your body produces melatonin. It may not produce 50 milligrams of it in a little tablet size form, but it does produce it. Melatonin is our sleep hormone, it’s our rest hormone and we need that. But, if we’re taking melatonin supplementally all the time every day, that eventually tells our body, “You don’t need to make it anymore, it’s being supplied,” so it turns that off. Our brains are very smart, they turn things on and off as we need them and so that can shut that down.
Same thing with magnesium. If we’re taking too much of that, the body, you will know it if you’re taking too much. But, if you’re taking it regularly, the body forgets how to use its own sources as well as it can. There’s a lot of areas here that we need to allow the body to do its work while we do ours.
Here’s the truth of the matter, no matter what sleep aid you’re taking you cannot over medication or, I guess, you can’t take a medication enough to run faster than your lifestyle. So, if your lifestyle changes are not in coordination with your sleep, then taking a sleep aid will not fix that. You will still have rough nights, you will still have times that your body is not resting. And with a sleep aid you sleep a little differently so you don’t always get the same level of repair and regeneration that you would have otherwise.
What do we need to do? Well, we need to understand that our bodies do have these abilities, but that a lot of the reason that we’re having to take these sleep aids isn’t because our body isn’t working, it’s because our brains are doing the wrong things because we’re telling them to. We’re overworking ourselves, we’re highly stressed out. Even if you don’t think you’re stressed out, you probably are. Most Americans tend to be carrying at least a minimal amount of stress. A lot of people suppress that stress and they don’t even realize that that’s coming out as, say, anxiety, or depression, or other issues. That stress can become a huge issue. Other things that we’re doing, is that we’re having way too much screen time. Our brains are constantly firing on trying to figure things out and then we try to sleep and we can’t figure out why.
While sleep aids can be beneficial, there’s several that I would recommend to somebody if they were having a hard time for a small amount of time sleeping, then I would happy to recommend that. But, if it’s an all the time need, then we first have to step outside of the problem itself, which is not sleeping, and we have to look at what the actual problem is, which is our lifestyle and we have to start to learn how to change that. Whether that’s creating a bedtime routine, getting away from screen time, managing our stress better or managing our time schedule better; there’s a lot of things that we can do there. But just knowing that while taking supplementation can be okay, if you’re taking it every day it can turn into a bad thing.
If this is a subject that you’d like to know more on or you’re just interested in something else in health, fitness or wellness, feel free to give me a call, 806-322-3188, and I’d be happy to talk more with you.
Have a great day!