It’s well known that those who perform yoga regularly tend to fall asleep faster and get more restful sleep throughout the night. So why might you be experiencing more sleep troubles now? The pandemic may have dealt a proverbial blow to your psyche. The lack of social interactions could be messing up your day and night cycles and affecting your mood. Add anxiety and uncertainty into the mix, and it’s not surprising that even restorative styles of yoga can’t quell the stress.
To lessen the blow, you may need to restore your body’s supply of serotonin. Serotonin isn’t just a naturally occurring feel-good neurochemical that contributes to happiness and wellbeing; it’s also very much in charge of the circadian rhythm. So, when it’s out of whack, sleep cycles suffer. I call this a serotonin slump.
If you suspect that your body is in a serotonin slump, here are four ways to build more serotonin in your system.
Set a routine.
If you’re not used to working remotely, distractions are everywhere! It is key for mental emotional health to have a routine that you will stick to — wake up at the same time every morning, exercise first thing, followed by a contrast shower to boost brain function. If you have access to a sauna, use it! Set specific break times, eat times and quit times. When working, employ a 50/10 rule. Work for 50 minutes then take a break for 10 minutes. This has been shown to increase productivity.
Re-establish a sleep schedule.
Your depth of sleep matters as much as how many hours you’re clocking on your pillow. Start with a cold, dark room, a comfortable mattress and some white noise. Some people find sleep success by taking melatonin or tryptophan supplements, but those only work depending on your body’s chemistry. Plus, most of those products will put you to sleep but won’t necessarily help keep you asleep.
A more reliable approach I use is to take Zenbev within an hour of going to sleep. This is made from a balanced combination of simple, food-based ingredients that encourage the body to make melatonin at night and serotonin during the day. Zenbev contains pumpkin seed powder that is still wrapped in the intact protein bundle that allows for slow release. That’s why it works. It has to do with its molecular size. You can’t achieve the same thing by putting pumpkin seeds in the blender.
Balance your blood sugar.
Balancing your sugar will help to balance your serotonin. If your body is craving cakes, breads and doughnuts, following a blood sugar balancing diet may help reduce those cravings. Stay well hydrated. Eat more whole grains, fresh fruits and non-starchy vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds. I recommend trying a modified intermittent fasting, where you wake up and fast until about noon.
Exercise outdoors whenever possible.
Spend time in nature, especially a heavily wooded environment. Plant life emits negative ions, which increase serotonin output in the human body. Exercise causes a surge of serotonin production; it also helps the body to manage blood sugar levels. This is why people who exercise frequently tend to be happier and more energetic overall. Just avoid strenuous exercise including energizing yoga before bed.
Bryce Wylde BSc (hons), DHMHS is a leading health expert specializing in integrative and functional medicine, homeopathy, clinical nutrition, and supplementation. As associate medical director at P3 Health in Toronto, and director of My Health Report, he blends the latest in science and technology with traditional and ancient remedies. Wylde is the author of three national best-selling books, previous host of CTV’s Wylde on Health, and regular guest health expert and medical advisor on “The Doctor Oz” show.