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Why Can't I Sleep ???

It happens to us all at some stage - disrupted sleep that seems to come out of absolutely nowwhere.
Poor sleep is far more serious than we sometimes realise - it can lead to fat gain, an increase in stress hormones, oxidative stress (an upsurge in free radicals), poor concentration, decreases in lean muscle mass and chronic fatigue, to name but a few.
So what can we do about it?
Well the first thing to do is establish your particular sleep disorder. Do you get to sleep and then wake up in the middle of the night, or do you sleep really well, but take ages getting off to sleep?
Maybe you only get up to answer the call of nature - that is still a disturbed nights sleep - we are designed to go to sleep and not wake up till it is time. Even 5 seconds waking time is considered disrupted sleep!
Well help is at hand - with the Biosignature system taught by Charles Poliquin, I am delighted to say that I have had huge success in addressing poor quality sleep.
I have attached a sleep questionnaire at the end of this article, but I will be unable to respond to individual requests for analysis, you will have to book in for a consultation for that. However by the end of this article you should have a good idea about what is causing you to wake and some practical suggestions to counter it.
First off, I'd urge you to realign yourself with your circadian rhythms.
This would require you to get to bed by10:30 p.m. at the latest, gradually dimming the lights throughout the evening in order to prepare the body for rest.
Avoid working on the computer, watching TV, or reading anything work-related prior to sleep.Also try to avoid having any electrical items in the room, and if you do, ensure that they're unplugged.Your bedroom should be pitch dark and quiet. If it isn't, think about fitting blackout blinds, and in the event you do wake up in the middle of the night, don't switch on the light.Why? Because this sends a message to the hypothalamus to produce cortisol as it associates that light with morning,and the need to produce an energizing hormone. This surge of cortisol will also stop the production of melatonin and other growth and repair hormones.
Getting a full night's sleep allows your body the necessary time to repair itself physically (10 p.m to 2 a.m.) and psychologically (2 a.m. to 6 p.m.).Waking up during the night is a classic symptom of oxidative stress.
The Chinese believe that the body's internal organs respond to "watches:" natural biorhythms that work in waves, drawing energy to a particular organ at a certain time. Indeed, martial artists became so adept in their skills that they could time a blow to an acupressure point when that organ was at its "fullest," therefore maximizing damage and ensuring death through serious internal injury! Of course, the aim of this article is not to teach you how to dim mak "death touch" someone into permanent sleep, it's to give you the necessary tools to relax the body and harmonize the internal mechanisms. Here's a list I've drawn up: It lists various times when you're most likely to wake up and the accompanying exercises to deal with the problem.
Time 1 a.m. to 3 a.m
Organ Liver
Exercise: Sit cross-legged in bed (or whatever is comfortable for you), looking at the tip of your nose, with your thumbs tucked into your fists. Hold this for 5 to 30 minutes     
Time: 3 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Exercise: Interlace your fingers behind your head, drawing your elbows back. Look at the tip of your nose and click your teeth together. Do this for 5 to 30 minutes
Time: 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.
Organ:Large intestine
Exercise:Place your palms over your ears, and with your index finger, tap the back of your skull 36 times. Then inhale and count "one", exhale and count "two." Do this up to the count of 9.
Another brilliant technique taught to me by Dr Mark Atkinson at a recent stress seminar is 4-7 breathing. This automatically initiates the parasympathetic nervous system. All you do is relax and take a deep breath in for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 7. This automatically downgrades your sympathetic nervous system and initiates the relaxation response.
However, there are times when even these techniques don't work - and this is where supplementation can be absolutely invaluable. The first supplement that I cannot recommend highly enough is magnesium. Magnesium calms the nervous system, relaxes the muscles and is invaluable for both cardiovascular health and blood sugar management (so if you are borderline diabetic or have high blood pressure -get some!). It is effectively "natures tranquilizer".
The problem is, what type?
Avoid magnesium oxide, it is cheap and poorly absorbed, more likely than not giving rise to digestive upsets. The best type of magnesium is magnesium glycinate as it is very well tolerated on delicate stomachs. However the time you wake up guides me as to the type of magnesium you are best suited to - there are good general ones, some specifically for individuals who experience anxiety when they wake in the middle of the night, those who wake up in the 1am-3am window - so as you can see even magnesium prescription is a specialised field that require further enquiry of the client.
For those who struggle with getting to sleep, magnesium can help dramatically, but when this form of sleep disruption occurs it may also be a product of what the Chinese call the chattering "Monkey Mind" - a whirlwind of thoughts about what you need to do tomorrow, how many emails you need to respond to, deadlines you need to keep,what time you need to drop the kids off... etc etc etc
For this kind of issue I tend to favour Chinese herbal formulas, fundamentally for their non-drowsy, calm, serene yet focused effect. They insure that you are fully functioning the next day, but will still the galloping mind when the thought process runs out of control.
I personally feel sleep is one of the least emphasized yet most important aspects of physical fitness - it is key for recovery and for the hormonal cascades that occur throughout the night and and a good nights sleep will definitely push you significantly forward in your fitness goals, so do ensure you are getting adequate rest and recovery.

6 Comments to Why Can't I Sleep ???:

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Alan Levi on 23 April 2012 12:59
Delighted you guys like it - keep checking back for more articles on lifestyle and wellness.
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jimmy chenga on 29 May 2012 12:08
Sorry but tapping your fingers 36 x and all the rest of it is bullshit! If your trying to calm the CNS,which is what your trying to do, clicking or tapping 36 x or 37 x is not the answer. Its about letting the bodies natural rhythm commence at a particular individuals natural time. What your actually drinking and digesting beofre bed is what plays the most important part. Foods that are easily digested and allow the body to not hold water will in turn allow your body to have a decent sleep. Foods like carbs before bed hold water and in turn can make you tired restless and want to pee. Also foods high in sugar or sodium may make the body slowly release water into the body allowing or waking the body numerous times during the night to pee!
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Alan Levi on 29 May 2012 22:09
The comments section is designed to allow an open dialogue with the many people who visit this website, and to exchange ideas. It is a pity that you see 2000 years of Chinese culture as "bullshit". These exercises are designed to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system,something that Chinese traditional medicine and meditative practice has had a revered tradition. I fail to see how your advice of "letting the bodies natural rhythm commence" is of any tangible benefit. What if the bodies natural rhythm has been disturbed by excess cortisol, pathogens, oxidative stress or liver toxicity? Counting sheep won't cut it. What you eat before you bed will influence sleep, and can result in disrupted sleep, but the purpose of the article was to discuss constant sleep disorders and not occasional issues. If your sleep quality is sufficiently good your body will almost go into a paralysis state where bladder function is downgraded, it is only when we drift into a lighter sleep that we become aware of our need to urinate. When this is a chronic issue it will manifest itself consistently during the same time periods - ask any of my many menopausal female clients and you will see they ALL wake up between 3am-5am. Upping their antioxidant consumption along with specific magnesiums always results in dramatic improvement and usually complete resolution. Are they all consuming too much sodium and suger before bed? I doubt it. I hope this clarifies my position.

jimmy chenga on 29 May 2012 12:11
Please dont fill peoples heads with rubbish! we all have enough to worry about and if there is an actual problem, people, please see an actual health care professional! And yes that does include a qualified natural path! Alan what qualifications do you hold?
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Alan Levi on 29 May 2012 21:45
This article is not designed to worry people but to give them the relevant information to tackle health issues without recourse to medication. If you feel this information is rubbish I suggest you don't read the articles. I don't like to use qualifications as a benchmark of knowledge, but as you ask, i have studied under the Worlds most succesful Olympic Coach, Charles Poliquin, and am fully qualified as a Biosignature practitioner.He has had enormous results with these protocols and is arguably the finest educator of Personal trainers in the World. And by the way, its naturopath, not natural path. . .

Matt on 05 July 2012 06:25
This is a great article. I've been having similar symptoms myself. My bladder was disfunctional for about 6 months because my blood pH was too low (too much protein in the diet). What dosage magnesium do you recommend? 400mg? I'm worried that high magnesium intake before bed could result in bowel movements. Which antioxidant do you recommend? Vitamin C?
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