Sleep is KEY for weight loss & athletic performance. Why? ⁠
-Our body repairs during our sleep. Red blood cells, hormones and nutrients all use this time to work their magic. Without it we are a scrambled mess internally. Picture a drawing from a 2 year old but that drawing is your metabolic pathways. ⁠

Luckily there is a lot we can do to help improve sleep quality and timing. Gold standard is at least 8 hour of sleep. Anything more is bonus. But we also want good quality sleep. We need to cycle through REM, Deep and light sleep to have all of these systems repair and be ready to get at it again! ⁠

I have developed 6 pillars to improve your sleep.  ⁠
1. Temperature while sleeping⁠
2. Avoiding blue light and radiation⁠
3. Botanicals and natural supplements to help sleep⁠
4. Meditation⁠
5. Nutrients from food that increase your body’s circadian rhythm (that’s the sleep/wake cycle)⁠
6. Meal & nutrient timing through out the day⁠



 The ideal temperature is 68 degrees. Your body begins to cool down when you go to bed and continues to cool down until reaching its low point near daybreak, at around 5 a.m. This happens by expanding the blood vessels in your skin, also enabling red blood cell flow to increase recovery and repair. This is internal temperature that should be at the core of your body. Most people sweat from their mattress, covers and sheets. Their body temp can rise and it causes disrupted sleep. You may notice a lot of mattress companies have cooling mattresses. The traditional materials for mattresses cause heat while you are sleeping. The new technology allows them to create a mattress that doesn’t give off extra heat. If you are really interested in improving your sleep a cooling mat is your best investment. They are not cheap but a cooling pad such as this one can be very helpful.  Choosing the proper material is also important. A mattress or futon made of organic cotton, wool, hemp or natural rubber is preferred (instead of being covered with polyurethane foam and chemicals).

If you don’t want to invest in a new mattress, which is very understandable, setting your thermostat to 68 degrees before bed is the best move. You should also consider the sheets and blankets you are using to improve your sleep. A heavy comforter will cause you to sweat in your sleep. 


Avoiding blue light

Stimulating the brain electrically has been proven to have an effect on the production of neurotransmitters such as GABA and serotonin. GABA is an excitatory neurotransmitter which keeps your brain active at night. If you are one of those people who can’t shut their brain off at night you are probably in need of GABA. TVs, computers, tablets and cell phone screens all give off blue light. Some of the ways that we can reduce this exposure is removing all electronics and shutting the TV down an hour before bed. The iPhone has the ability to turn the light down and there are also screen protectors for your phones, computers and tablets which reduce blue light. You can also invest in blue light blocking glasses. You need an amber colored lens to properly block the light. The clear lens doesn’t work well enough.


supplements to improve sleep

Natural supplements & botanicals to improve sleep

Natural supplements and botanicals can help us get a good night sleep. Everybody has a different reason why they have trouble sleeping , I recommenced talking to your functional medicine nutritionist or ND to decide which is right for you. Here’s a few of my favorites


Magnesium: repairs DNA, works on neurotransmitter pathways increasing GABA to relax your mind, regulates melatonin, improves recovery for muscles.

Melatonin: produced in pineal gland, should start to rise around 3pm when your cortisol should be lowering. This can be helpful for shift workers to maintain healthy circadian rhythms. Melatonin production decreases with age.

GABA: main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the CNS helping with relaxation, pain relief, stress and anxiety reduction. GABA is thought to be able to calm a busy mind before bed to improve sleep. If you are somebody who can’t sleep because your mind is racing GABA may help improve your sleep.

Tart Cherry Juice: Studies show tart cherry juice can increase exogenous (made outside your body) melatonin. The combination of the melatonin , antioxidants and carbohydrates from the juice makes this an ideal choice for athletes before bed to improve sleep.

Botanicals to improve sleep:

Passionflower: can help anxiety, insomnia, and certain forms of pain because it may increase levels of GABA.

Valerian Root: can inhibit the breakdown of GABA in the brain, resulting in feelings of calmness and tranquility, has antioxidants hesperidin & linarin, which appear to have sedative and sleep-enhancing properties.

Chamomile: has an antioxidant called apigenin which binds to specific receptors in your brain that may decrease anxiety and initiate sleep.

Kava: member of the nightshade family and ceremonial tea, kava works on inhibiting GABA for relaxation and muscle repair but can have a negative interaction with liver enzymes. Kava is not recommenced for everybody.

If you would like to try these supplements I have created an easy link to find them here


man meditating to improve sleepMeditation

The national sleep foundation recommends meditation as a safe and easy way to calm your mind and improve sleep patterns. Meditation improves a mind body connection that improves mindfulness and sleep. The great thing about meditation is it can be free and you can also combine it with other techniques to improve your sleep.

I like to do a 10-25 min guided meditation daily, usually before sleep to calm my mind. They say that meditation can be done any time of the day to improve sleep. It doesn’t have to be before bed. The positive effects will carry over into your ability to relax in the evenings. There are tons of apps which have calming and mindful guided meditations as well as streaming services such as Spotify and apple music.


Nutrients From Food

Some foods increase our natural melatonin as well as provide precursors and amino acids to improve sleep.

The most common food we hear about to improve sleep is turkey. The rumor that turkey has tryptophan which can help with sleep is due to the amino acid tryptophan is not necessarily true. Tryptophan is a precursor to 5-HTP  which produces natural melatonin but turkey also contains high levels of protein which can compete with the tryptophan entering the blood brain barrier. A very interesting fact is that amino acids are all different sizes. The largest being the branch chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) these are called large neutral amino acids (LNAA). They will compete with the smaller amino acids and prevent them from crossing the blood brain barrier.

Luckily-  carbohydrates increases brain tryptophan by insulin stimulation of LNAA into skeletal muscle, which results in an increase in free tryptophan. Theres some thought that people who have high amounts of complete protein or who take a lot of BCAAs and are on a low carb diet could have signs of depression due to this mechanism.

Tart cherry juice and carbohydrates help release melatonin. Believe it or not eating high glycemic foods at night 4 hours prior to sleep helped athlete performance in a study.

They tested 1 hour and 4 hours before bed. The 4 hour group had a much better result. This is because eating requires digestion and digestion can definitely interrupt your sleep. It’s very hard for you body to get into REM or deep sleep while metabolizing food or alcohol.

Eating close to bed time

You should eat your last meal about 1-2 hours before bed. 2 hours being ideal so your body can get into REM sleep. There’s a few studies that relate digestion and digestive disorders such as Ulcers ,IBD, IBS and stomach cancer to sleep patterns. We want to maintain a good blood sugar level and allow our body to produce melatonin naturally.  Eating a meal with carbs and protein about 2 hours before sleep helps this natural production of hormones. The protein helps prevent us from losing muscle while we sleep. Our body becomes catabolic (breaks down muscle) during our sleep. We are also in the middle of a “fast” because we are going 8-12 hours with out food. It’s important that before we start that fasting period we are fueled for all of the repair that is about to happen in our sleep.

Sleep and circadian rhythm may influence acid secretion and gastric motor activity. Acid secretion is highly variable from night to night, yet peaks in a circadian fashion between 10 pm and 2 am. People who eat close to bed time may experience more heartburn or reflux due to lowered contraction of the esophagus .

Melatonin may improve mucosal regeneration. As a hormone released in response to a dark environment, melatonin is released by some gut cells in relation to your sleep patterns.  This hormone is produced by neuroendocrine cells of the stomach and duodenal mucosa, and helps keep the clock synchronized, including food intake and muscle contraction in your gut. Melatonin appears to lower gastric acid release, increase gastric blood flow, and improve mucosal regeneration. In individuals with lower melatonin release, gastric stress ulcers take longer to heal. This means melatonin production is very important for gut health. Especially in those who have IBS or IBD.

Our sleep also controls the production of our hunger hormone Ghrelin which tells our brain when we are full. Many people who have poor sleep patterns also admit to having less control with cravings and and overeating.

What’s your biggest issue with sleep? Is it restless mind? Is it tossing and turning? Night sweats ? Cramping? Do you fall asleep but can’t stay asleep? Or are you lucky and sleep isn’t an issue at all? Let’s talk about it! ⁠