22.10.2013 Naturopathy

Sleep Yourself Slim

A good night's sleep may be the best diet of all, suggests Lyn Craven

Did you know that getting the right amount of sleep can actually help you lose weight?

When you push beyond your physical limits constantly with work, social activities partying to the wee hours and excess physical exercise without obtaining enough downtime and seven to eight hours' sleep per night, your central nervous system and adrenals become totally exhausted. People may think they just need to take some amino acids or iron supplements to gain energy back, but the main problem is insufficient sleep, poor diet, and pushing yourself physically and mentally without rest and relaxation.

When people continue with these lifestyle habits, chronic fatigue can manifest, the adrenals become overworked and often you simply lack the zest and stamina to get through the daily normal activities. You find you can eat like a bird and you actually gain weight! This can be very frustrating and depressing. It is due to adrenals pumping out too much adrenaline to enable you to be active, and increasing the amount of cortisol hormone, which increases naturally when we are exposed to any stress. Cortisol levels also increase as we age. Excess cortisol will encourage weight gain. The kidneys are also involved here since malfunctioning or tired adrenals will contribute to fluid retention, another weight issue, and so you just feel bloated and fatter!

Everyone requires a minimum of seven to eight hours' undisturbed sleep and some need nine hours on occasions. It's important to become aware of your own personal limits and requirements and work within your own schedule when it comes to daily activities, not that of others.

Sleep deprivation results in:

Adrenal exhaustion,Nervous system exhaustionFluid retentionWeight gainCognitive impairmentDecreased reaction time and accuracyHypoglycemia - low blood sugarHypothyroidism - low thyroid function (initially you may have hyperthyroid)Hypotension - low blood pressure (initially you may create hypertension)Emotional issues: frustration, irritability, impatience, anger, depressionFatigueLow immunityMuscular aches and pains, especially if weight gain is considerableDigestive inadequaciesBowel problems - usually constipation, but some people present with diarrheaIBS - spastic uptight bowel (due to stress and tension)Migraines and headachesType 2 Diabetes Ageing appearance, drying skin and wrinkles (tired lines around eyes)!

Many of the above symptoms can be resolved by:

8 hours' nourishing sleep a night, more if you need it initially. Let your body rest!Fresh food diet you prepare yourself (restaurants do not serve a minimum of 5 vegetables with dinner). It's important to consume a minimum of 5 vegetables with fish, poultry, and lean red meat or tofu, beans and lentils for vegetarians. Vegetables are not fattening, they sustain appetite, balance blood sugar, provide essential vitamins and minerals in accordance with variety and they give you energy!Plenty of salads and good quality fats and oils ie olive oil, coconut oil, avocado and nuts.Rolled oats (oats support the nervous system, adrenals and stabilise blood sugar), unsweetened organic muesli, sunflower and sesame seeds, millet, barley and rice flakes (which are from brown rice). Only avoid oats, muesli and barley if you are gluten intolerant.Free range eggs and poultry.1.5-2 litres water a day, depending on the season and your physical activities.No caffeine drinks after 12 noon, and ideally only one coffee a day!No sugar or foods/drinks containing cane sugar. No artificial sweeteners.3 main meals and mid morning/afternoon snacks - grazing is good.B complex, plus additional B5 daily, (pantothenic acid). Dosage varies so please see a professional nutritionist or naturopath so they can assess your requirements.Vitamin C up to 1000mg a day at least but not to be taken indefinitely.If low in iron, an appropriate iron supplement would be required.Specific chromium supplements, herbal remedies and homeopathics to balance blood sugar (required for energy), balance metabolic/digestive/bowel function, and stablise endocrine system (hormones). Remedies will vary per person.Regular exercise - learn to recognise your body's limits and have some downtime.Relaxing Epsom salt baths, (excellent for spastic uptight colon), soak up the magnesium for at least 20-25 mins or longer. Add deep relaxing essential oils such as vetivert or clary sage (6 drops only).(Do an allergy test first. Place a drop on wrist and see if a skin reaction occurs prior to putting the drops in a bath.)Soothe and calm the busy mind. Listen to a meditation CD, join a group or receive private tuition. Practise daily. I have witnessed many people over time really improve their gastrointestinal function when they practise meditation. Choose the style that is right for you. I offer guided meditations, which are like healing journeys, catering for the specific lifestyle and personal issues with each person.Create balance in your life! Cultivate a creative hobby, spend time in nature, find time to share with friends and family, create your own "bucket list" and have fun while letting go of pressure and stress, be kind to yourself and allow your body to chill out, relax and sleep!

Consistency is the key with all natural remedies and requires you to make positive changes to your present lifestyle habits that may not be conducive to optimum health. In order to get what we want we must be prepared to make a sacrifice.

I have also found that hair mineral analysis testing has helped so many people whom I have treated in balancing underlying nutritional deficiencies. This test is a more in-depth and a better option than general blood tests, which simply show the level of a respective mineral in your blood. The former test indicates how your body is absorbing and utilising the minerals, which is really what you need to know.

The adrenals will not work properly if they lack the correct nutrition. This applies to every organ and system in your body. A healthy diet is often not enough when the metabolism is out of sync and deficiencies are present. Remember, the plants can only offer to you what they get from the soil they grow in. This is why many people may opt for organic vegetables and salads.

Often adrenal fatigue can result in discrepancies with thyroid function. Many GPs do not assess adrenal function. Once the thyroid becomes hypo or hyper functioning, medical doctors will prescribe medication, which you often remain on for the rest of your life. However, natural remedies can often help achieve a balanced thyroid gland again by seeking the underlying cause and restoring equilibrium.

You will become slimmer, healthier more energetic and discover an amazing sense of well being!

Some pharmaceutical medications may clash with natural remedies, so it's important to seek professional guidance.

Please do not dabble with adrenal issues as you may make things worse and the correct tests are required to ascertain any underlying discrepancies. So see a professional naturopath, acupuncturist or homoeopath who is also trained in nutrition. Often when people self prescribe and bring a long list of remedies to any practitioner it can make things more complicated.

Sydney-based Lyn Craven is a practitioner of naturopathy, nutrition, medical herbalism, Bowen therapy, Reiki energy healing and meditation, and is a corporate health presenter/consultant with 19 years' experience in natural therapies. www.lyncravencorporatehealth-naturopath.com

Lyn Craven

Lyn Craven is a practitioner of Naturopathy, Bowen Therapy, Energy/Reiki therapist, meditation teacher and Corporate Health Consultant. She is also a health researcher/writer and has produced a meditation CD assisting people to manage anxiety and stress. She runs a private practice in Sydney and can be contacted on +61403 231 804