causes of bloating

Aside from constipation, other causes of bloating include: Gut sensitivity: People with IBS can be extremely sensitive to gas, which can cause pain, cramping and diarrhea. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO): Most healthy people have relatively few bacteria in the small intestine.

Five Hacks to Improve Your Sleep

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Most of us have been there:  A night of tossing and turning despite valiant attempts to get a good night’s rest.  Maybe you are waking up feeling more exhausted then you were when you went to bed the night before.  It can be frustrating, especially if you are trying to do everything right.

My sleep took a turn for the worst with mold exposure and increasing severity of infections.  It became like the lost treasure, just out of my reach.  I struggled to get into a deep sleep, and would often wake up at 1am, 4am and 6am rearing to go.  Needless to say, I have done a lot of diving into sleep strategies.

With sleep being an important component of health, it’s important to try to get at least 8 hours of rest a night, so your body can begin to heal.  The best time to sleep is at 10pm, because the hours before 12pm have a much greater impact on healing adrenal dysfunction then the hours after 12pm.

Before we dive straight into the hacks, I want you to get a grasp of a few key players.  Melatonin is a sleep hormone and has a key role in helping us to fall asleep and stay asleep. It works in opposition to cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone released in response to stress. In a healthy individual, cortisol levels should be highest in the morning, and decrease throughout the day.  Sleep is usually impacted by factors that interfere with melatonin production, or cortisol levels.

Sleep Hack #1: Balance your blood sugar

If you find yourself waking up between the hours of 12-2am, chances are your blood sugar isn’t balanced.  This can cause your cortisol to spike, leading you to rise out of your sweet slumber.  Perhaps you have eaten a high carb meal close to bed (cut those chips out!) or maybe your blood sugar is unbalanced due to other health reasons. (Read more about blood sugar here).    Hack #1 is to consume a protein/healthy fat snack before bed, in order to level things out on the blood sugar front.

Ideas can include:

  • an egg
  • some almond butter (perhaps with a slice of apple, or banana)
  • bone broth
  • a bulletproof tea (includes some healthy fat like MCT oil)

Sleep Hack #2: Improve your melatonin levels.

Remember that melatonin is the hormone that is essential for sleep. If melatonin works for you as a supplement, it is likely a good indication that melatonin production is a problem.

Melatonin is made from serotonin, which means that low serotonin levels can impact melatonin levels.  Serotonin is made from 5-HTP and tryptophan.  There is a division in the functional health community about how exactly to supplement to improve melatonin levels.  Some practitioners prefer to supplement with melatonin directly, while others recommend 5-HTP in order to prevent the body from becoming dependent on supplemental melatonin.

The production of melatonin becomes further complicated by a few factors.  Melatonin is made from serotonin from a few key enzymes.   These enzymes are triggered by a neurotransmitter known as norepinephrine (noradrenalinine). This is where adrenal health comes into play. When the adrenals are essentially ‘burnt out’, noradrenaline levels are impacted, and this can impact the body’s ability to convert serotonin to melatonin, therefore impacting sleep levels. Some tips for healthy adrenals include: addressing nutrient deficiencies like vitamin C, eliminating sources of stress and addressing hidden stressors.

Sleep Hack #3: Eliminate your gut bugs

This may seem like an odd connection, but let me tell you, unwanted guests can mess with your sleep.  If you are waking up between the ‘bewitching’ hours of 3am to 5am, this is your clue to get your gut checked out. (Read more about the GI MAP testing here).   Gut bugs tend to be active during this time, and around the full moon.  Active gut bugs can lead to an increase in cortisol levels, which can also trigger you to wake up.  Parasites in the gut can also impact the health of your gut.  With 90% of serotonin being made in the gut, and serotonin being a precursor to melatonin, having a health gut is essential to having good sleep.

Sleep Hack #4: Eliminate blue light

Blue light has its benefits.  During the day, it can lead to improved attention and mood. However, humans were not meant to be exposed to blue light at night.   Research is suggesting that blue light actually blocks the production of melatonin, impacts your circadian rhythm, and also effects the continuity of sleep– meaning that you are more likely to wake up frequently in the night following exposure to blue light, than if you did not have that exposure.

Luckily there are a few options that exist to block blue light.  Research has shown that blue light blocking glasses (option 2) are effective at eliminated the negative consequences associated with blue light exposure at night.  Other options include:

  • Using lux or Iris software on computers.
  • Using blue light filtering light bulbs, a salt lamp, or lights on a dimmer switch.
  • Turning ‘night shift’ on your phone
  • Sleeping in complete darkness.
  • Using black-out blinds.
  • Using an eye mask (purchasable at your nearest Dollar Store).
  • Ditching alarm clocks that glow.
  • Removing your T.V. from the bedroom

Sleep Hack #5: Create a healthy sleep environment

This can mean different things to different people. The key is to create an environment that will lead you to having the best sleep possible.  This can include:

  • Use white noise, such as a HEPA air air filter
  • Purchase an organic mattress (Note: Any mattress over 10 years is likely full of mold, dead skin and bacteria and should be tossed out!)
  • Turn off your wi-fi at night
  • Try out ear plugs
  • Consider essential oils such as cedarwood, lavender or other sleep-specific blends.

Sweet Dreams!

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