Trouble sleeping? Let me be the first to tell you that you are not alone. With all the world’s commotion lately, this is one of the most common complaints I hear from new clients. I have even found myself tossing and turning a bit more in recent months. With Daylight Saving Time ending soon, it will not get any easier without mindful practices to improve our Zzzs. Keep reading for the scoop on sleep and how to get your sleep cycle back on track.
What does sleep have to do with nutrition?
Yes, I am a nutritionist – so some of my clients are surprised that I care so much about their sleep quality. The truth is: sleep and nutrition have a symbiotic relationship. In terms of overall health, quality sleep is as vital as a quality diet, and it is extremely difficult to have one without the other. There are already many things changing up our lives that have impacted our routines. Still, one thing that has regularly caused American adults to have sleep troubles for more than 50 years is coming back in a couple of weeks: the end of Daylight Saving Time.
Since 1966, the United States has observed Daylight Saving Time (DST), where we set our clocks one hour forward in March and one hour back in November. Most of us are used to it – and one hour is negligible, right? This may be surprising to hear, but modern research disagrees, and it is all because of a critical natural process we all have – circadian rhythm.
Circadian rhythm is a natural 24-hour cycle that our brains have evolved to work within based on light and dark. From microbes to humans, all living things are affected by these cycles. One of the most critical circadian rhythms we know of today is the sleep-wake cycle, and our biological clock synchronizes it. Circadian rhythm that is properly regulated helps regulate our hormones, hunger cues, mood, blood sugar, cholesterol, and more. When this rhythm gets out of whack, studies show that the risks of various physical and mental illnesses increase, including heart disease, dementia, depression, anxiety, and even cancer.1 So setting your clock back or forward an hour might seem like no big deal, but your biological clock disagrees!
How can I minimize disruption to my circadian rhythm due to Daylight Saving Time?
- Prepare, gradually
DST ends on the first Sunday in November (the 7th this year). This transition is a bit easier than when DST begins, with many seeing it as an “extra” hour of sleep, but the disruption to our routine is not healthy. Prevent a shock to the system by moving bedtime back by increments of 10 or 15 minutes the week leading up to the time change. When March comes back around, do the same in reverse.
2. Add some supplements to your regimen
I have been having a bit more trouble sleeping through the night lately, too. It’s probably no surprise that I turned to supplements – and they are working! One great option is magnesium, particularly in the bisglycinate form. I recommend magnesium to most of my clients because a deficiency is common, yet it is a mineral that is crucial to our health. The bisglycinate form is ideal for unwinding and promoting more restful sleep.* Another one to try is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA decreases the brain’s stress-related beta waves and increases the production of alpha waves, creating a deep sense of relaxation.* Sounds perfect, right? Finally, I also recommend a good melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain in response to darkness and it can help support our circadian rhythms. Three of my favorite sleep supplements are Thorne’s Magnesium Bisglycinate, PharmaGABA-250, and Melatonin-5. They are all the highest quality and very effective.
3. Align with the sun
Because our circadian rhythm works in alignment with the sun, you can support this cycle by getting plenty of natural sunlight during the day and minimizing artificial light at night. One of the best ways to naturally balance your sleep-wake cycle is to get a bit of sun first thing in the morning on waking. Doing this helps your cortisol level to rise and fall appropriately and blocks melatonin production when you don’t need it.
4. Take Thorne’s Sleep Test
If you feel like you’ve tried everything but still aren’t feeling rested, then a little extra digging might be needed. Because it isn’t always easy to get to the root of why you aren’t sleeping well – that is where Thorne’s at-home sleep test comes in. Their at-home sleep test measures your body’s fluctuations of the sleep cycle’s two main hormones – melatonin and cortisol. Based on your results – which are reviewed by an independent, board-certified physician – a comprehensive improvement plan with diet, activity, and supplement recommendations is generated and sent to you. It’s quick, easy, and affordable!
You can find all of my favorite Thorne sleep supplements here. Cheers to your next blissful night of sleep!
As always, be sure to check with a health-care practitioner before you begin a new supplement.
- Khan S, Nabi G, Yao L, et al. Health risks associated with genetic alterations in internal clock system by external factors. Int J Biol Sci 2018;14(7):791-798. Published 2018 May 21. doi:10.7150/ijbs.23744