Did you know there is a connection between nutrition and sleep? Did you know that consuming sugar can result in sleep disruption, particularly within 2-4 hours prior to going to bed?

In a previous post (The Hidden Effects of Drinking Alcohol), I shared that when you drink alcohol you are consuming a particular sugar that really creates shallow sleep. There are two reasons why this is important.

First of all, research demonstrates that sound sleep significantly increases the probability of weight loss due to the hormones released. With sleep, there is a decrease in cortisol (the stress hormone related to fight or flight syndrome), better metabolism, and overall, more energy to exercise. So it makes sense that you can lose weight after having more sound sleep.

Second, there is a direct connection between what you use to fuel your body and your sleep capabilities. Many of the patients I see, or whom I coach, simply want a “silver bullet” (a pill) to help them sleep better. Sadly, drugs like Oxycontin, the sedative-hypnotics (Ambien, Lunesta, Restoril/Temazepam), and other benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Ativan, Valium, etc.) have highly demonstrated adverse side-effects on brain-chemistry, longevity, and even range of motion for those with pain disorders.  Many physicians are taught to give people these medications, and may not have the time to discuss nutrition and the areas I was extensively trained in.

My practice focuses on helping people change their behaviors, thoughts, and emotions (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy methods). I do this by coaching people towards sound sleep, better daytime thoughts and emotions. This results in more optimism and energy to increase their exercise, choose better nutrition [i.e., more of a vegetable, fruit, nuts, healthier proteins (a lot less red meat), and more], and experience enhanced spirituality and/or a sense of meaning/purpose. These areas are all holistically related, and manifest a positive spiral upward.

Charles R. Freeman, Ph.D.  | Sleep, Pain, Behavioral Medicine Psychologist & Addictionologist  |  Available online (Skype) and in-person in San Diego and Encinitas, CA.

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