Better Sleep



Who does not feel great after a good night’s sleep?

The other night I had an interrupted night of sleep and I ended up sleeping in the following morning throwing out my whole day. I rarely sleep in, but I rarely have a night of interrupted sleep either. And last night I watched a webinar on plant-based melatonin and its use for re-establishing circadian rhythms. So, because my week has evolved around sleep issues and its healthy sleep week I thought “Let’s talk about Sleep”.

As a Naturopath sleep is a big consideration in our treatment protocols. We look at sleep onset, which is the ability to get to sleep, and sleep maintenance which is the ability to stay asleep. In my clinic I often see problems with sleep maintenance.

We need good sleep, just ask any new mum who is sleep deprived and they will tell you how hard it is to function without it. Being a mum of twins, I remember that feeling of pure exhaustion and wondering how I could feel anymore tired. The broken sleep and lack of sleep really knocks you around.

Being sleep deprived can be dangerous, especially when driving or operating equipment. Sleep apnea can happen in the car, or when you sit down to watch that movie with your partner (Really it wasn’t the movie right?).

When you are not sleeping well then you can feel quite distanced and exhausted. Its hard to make social connections, foster good relationships, parent, perform exercise and make good decisions.

But you do not have to be a new mum to be sleep deprived. Stress, illness, nutrient deficiency and the environment you sleep in can all contribute to your sleep issues. There is usually no single reason, but several factors involved. Some of them include the following:

  • Protein – this is often the first item to look at in clinic, especially if there are some mood disorders as well. I often see a lack of protein in nearly all the diets I have evaluated. So often protein is not in every meal and it should be.

So how much protein do you need I hear you ask? Well for every 1kg of body weight you should have 1 gram of protein but remember if you are eating a chicken fillet of 100grams that will give you 22.5grams of protein. You can download my protein handout here

  • Insulin resistance – changes in blood glucose levels through the night can cause issues with sleep maintenance. These can interfere with your Melatonin production and cause fluctuations that will wake you through the night.
  • Melatonin is an amino acid that is needed to produce your sleep hormones. When there is inflammation due to illness, or lifestyle factors this production can be reduced leading to sleep issues.
  • Your environment– sleep hygiene is often talked about in my clinic. We need to look about the room we sleep in and consider how dark it is? How many electronics are in there, especially right next to your bed? Your sleep room should be quiet, free from electronics and dark to enable your sleep hormones to be produced. If you have a stack of electronics in your remove and are suffering with sleep issues you need to remove them.
  • Stress – this can cause an increase in cortisol and we need this to drop at night-time to allow Melatonin to be increased. When you are constantly stressed your body is producing cortisol which interferes with the amount of Melatonin you are producing and then affects your sleep.

So if you are having trouble sleeping and would like some help book in for a consult now.

If you would like the sleep hygiene handout click here


Authored by Jan Caton – BHSc – Nat, Owner and Naturopath at Magnolia Apothecary. Owner at The Conscious Spender. Jan has clinics in Mt Evelyn and Kilsyth.



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