Paleo sleep is a thing, apparently. And here are our top ten tips to get a better night’s sleep every night. And no we won’t be telling you to sleep in a cave…
Why is sleep important to the Paleo lifestyle?
You can eat as much grass fed meat and organic greens as you like, but if you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, you can kiss a lot of those benefits of your Paleo diet goodbye.
According to Robb Wolf… “Sleep deprivation is a relatively new phenomenon. It did not become prevalent until about 20-30 years ago. This has not come without negative health consequences and has correlated with a rise in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. These are the major causes of death in industrialized countries. The majority of studies give three reasons for sleep contributing to obesity and diabetes and they are as follows; alteration in glucose metabolism, increased appetite, and decreased energy expenditure.”
He goes on to say (and show the scientific studies to back this up) that sleep deprivation can cause insulin resistance (an underlying mechanism of weight gain and type 2 diabetes), thyroid disfunction, and can even be linked to cancer (see full article here)
Our top ten Paleo sleep tips
(NOTE: there are lots of links here – but none of them are affiliate, we don’t make money when you click through – they are just things we highly recommend because we use them ourselves!)
So what do we suggest? (Well we aren’t perfect at this – who is? So as always no judgement here). You probably know about some of these already, and some of them seem a bit out there, but see if you can commit to just two or three this week and see if it makes a difference…
- Get an early night. Not many of us can stay in bed in a morning, so stretching sleep that way just isn’t going to work. So we try to go to bed a little earlier these days. We’re usually in bed by 10pm, and with two young boys who like to be up by 6am, it’s definitely helping.
- Switch off electronics and screens 2 hours before bedtime. Did you know there’s a sensor (Melanopsin sensors) inside your eye that responds to blue light even in blind people? These sensors can change your circadian rhythm based on your exposure to the blue light in screens and even in your lightbulbs. (See tip 3 below).
- Wear blue blockers… yes they seem weird at first, and you do feel a bit like Bono, but we’ve been wearing these for over a year now and they do help, especially if you do have to be using screens in the evening. They help with the Melanopsin sensors (see above) and so help you sleep better. We like these Swanwick ones.
- Linked to 2 and 3 above, block out all “junk light” – Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof, takes electrical tape with him when he travels to tape over the LED lights that stay on all night and ruin his sleep. So if you have a TV in your room, or any electronics that have an annoying LED, get rid or do the same as Dave.
- Invest in an eye mask – they can protect the melanopsin sensors and help with a good night’s sleep.
- Black 0ut blinds for the win – whilst an eye mask can help with blocking the melanopsin sensors, your skin is photosensitive, so total darkness is better.
- Get out into day light as early in the morning as you can (as soon as the sun’s up in Winter), and go barefoot if you dare. It tells your body that it’s time to wake up, gets you exposed to natural blue light and keeps your circadian rhythm on track.
- Try meditation or calming music – we love Headspace. We generally use it in a morning but the falling to sleep guided meditations are great too. Another thing that has worked for us in the past (one of us finds it annoyingly easy to fall asleep, but the other can take half an hour to an hour) is listening to the same piece of soothing music each night at bedtime. The first two tracks on the Spotify Soothing Symphonies playlist has us drifting off in no time.
- Have a warm bath with a cup of Epsom salts added – most of us are deficient in magnesium. According to The Sleep Doctor, “Magnesium plays a role in supporting deep, restorative sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep.” We add Epsom salts to our kids’ baths and use this magnesium spray on ourselves (note, it does itch so spray on soles of feet if that bothers you)
- Think about your sleeping surface… we wouldn’t quite go as far as Loren Cordain and suggest replacing your bed with a hammock or sleeping on the ground! but you could consider a different all natural mattress such as one made from organic cotton or wool (our kids have the Cotton Safe mattresses and we have also bought chemical free wool duvets and pillows from the Wool Room. Herdy Sleep look good too.
What are your top sleep tips? We’d love to know.