1

Control your core temperature

Your circadian rythm controls everything. It also controls your body temperature which a a very important aspect when it comes to quality sleep.

 

The basics

The circadian rythm is designed to keep you awake during the day and asleep during the night. It also does that  by controlling your body temperature. At noon time the core body temperature  begins to rise, peaking late in the afternoon. The temperature then begins to decline as bedtime approaches.

The body temperature reaches it’s lower point around 2am. This cycle does not depend on sleep itself. Even if you were to stay awake all night, your temperature would still show the same pattern. This is how important the circadian rythm is.

What is also very important is that this temperature drop helps us to fall asleep. This is actually probably the most important factor determining the ease with which you will fall asleep tonight.

Why is temperature important

You probably have experienced how difficult it is to sleep and maintain sleep when it is very hot outside. You keep waking up or turning around correct?

To successfully initiate and maintain sleep into the night, your body temperature needs to decrease by 1-2 degrees Celcius.  For this reason you will find it easier to fall asleep in a room that is too cold then too hot, since the a room that is too cold is at least bringing your brain and body in the correct, downward, temperature direction.

The decrease in the core temperature is detected by a group of cells in the brain within the hypothalamus. Once the core termperature drops in the evening these cells will deliver a message (to the suprachiamsatic nucleus) to release melatonin.

As the body is a complex, multi-dimentional system, it is not only the light but also the temperature that signals that it is time to go to bed.

Summary

  • You core body temperature helps with releasing melatonin and to get you into sleep.

How it works

Your body is not passive in the process of regulating it’s temperature. It is quite active and uses the surface of the skin for this reason and specifically through the hands, the feet and head.

All these three areas are rich in blood vessels which will allow blood to be spread across a large surface area of the skin and will come in close contact with the air that surrounds it. The hands, feet and head are very efficient in releasing heat so as to drop your core temperature. 

That is why warm feet help with sleeping. They are inducing your core temperature to drop. In the same way water helps dissipate heat from the surface of the skin faster!

Simple Tips

Controlling you core temper is really simple. Here are some techniques to help you drop your body temperature before going to sleep. Aim for a core body temperature of 18°C.

  • Avoid eating before going to bed: Digeston is a very taxing process which raises the body temperature. Avoid eating for 2-3 hours before going to bed.
  • Don’t exercise close to bed: Moderate exercise during the day can be very beneficial to sleep, as it expends energy and helps you feel more tired in the evening. However, exercising close to bedtime can cause your body temperature to spike. This can make it more difficult to fall asleep at your desired time.
  • Sleep light: Avoid pyjamas and heavy blankets
  • Invest in the right mattress and pillow: Your bed can play a major role in how comfortable you feel during the night. Mattresses made with thick foams tend to absorb and trap body heat, causing you to feel excessively warm. Other mattresses sleep cool by comparison thanks to components like ventilated latex and open coil systems that circulate air throughout the interior. Cooling pillows can have the same effect. Certain pillows can be heat traps, but other types of pillows – such as wool provide above-average temperature control. Check out Bio-Pur as an example or the state of the art Chili-Pad
  • Take a hot bath: My favourite tip! A hot bath will dilate your skin blood vessels by bringing more blood to the surface. This will help release heat from your core and decrease your termerature after you leave the bath.
  • Wear socks: For the same reason as the hot bath you want to keep your feet warm to allow heat to be released. If your feet and hands are cold then the body restrict the blow flow those areas in an attempt to maintain the core temperature stable.

Final Thoughts

We all know stress is a big factor when sleeping. Now you know why. As your tryptophan levels drop, so do your serotonin levels. Suddenly you’re depressed, and you find yourself bingeing on chocolate and carbs. What’s more, with your serotonin levels tumbling, you don’t have enough serotonin to make melatonin, so you can’t sleep.  The key to keeping your tryptophan from being stolen is to identify your stressors.

By implementing stress reduction techniques, you can turn your tryptophan into feel-good serotonin and sleep-well melatonin.  Pratice breathing for a few minutes every day to help you wind down and be relaxed.

Exercise and even walking can do wonders for your Tryptophan  levels which you can always have some healthy carbs with your evening meal to help you get naturally into sleep!

Further Reading




Brain food – tryptophan

Why is it that when you’re stressed, you crave carbohydrates and sugar? There are a number of reasons, but let’s focus on this post in Tryprophan.

In the magical world call human body, there are always very delicate balances that drive optimal health with many things acting against each other for this optimum balance. And Tryptophan is involved in one the greatest battles of them all. Typtophan is one of the ultimate brain food but we first need to help it get there!

 

Tryptophan basics

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid (found in foods that contain protein) that is critical for health. After consumption, it is metabolically transformed to serotonin, melatonin, kynurenine, vitamin niacin (B3) and B6.

Interesting enough tryptophan is 1 of 9 essential amino acids, and is the least available of all amino acids. As such, tryptophan availability is an important factor when discussing of protein biosynthesis. 

Tryptophan plays a pivotal role in 

  • Hormones and Vitamins : The creation of hormones of seratonin, melatonin, kynurenine, vitamin niacin (B3) and B6.
  • Immune : The regulation of the immune response, by slowing down T cell proliferation and hence is associated with better survival in patients suffering from cancer.
  • Diabetes : Triptophan availability is related to severe illnesses as metabolic syndrome and diabetes. 
  • Gut absorption :Other human diseases linked to Triptophan are those generated at the level of gut absorption, as Hartnup disease.
  • Mood : There is strong evidence between gut dysfunction, Triptophan availability, and mood.
  • DNA repair : Tryptophan is employed in the correction of errors in the process of DNA replica production.
  • Histamine regulation : With the right levels of tryptophan, histamine operated functions will be normally tuned.

Tryptophan stealers and helpers

Here’s what makes tryptophan so complicated: There is a lot of competion for tryptophan in order for it to be properly utilised.

Amino Acids

Triptophan enters the brain in competition with other large amino acids (LNNAs such as valine, isoleucine, leucine, tyrosine, phenylalanine and methionine) through a common transporter system. 

The amount of Tryptophan entering the brain depends on the relation to the other amino-acids. 

Hence, ingestion of a normal protein amount, results in a relatively small increase in Tryptophan but a larger elevation of other LNNAs. This results in reduced availability of Tryptophan in the brain. If combining protein with carbohydrates, on the contrary, the end result is an increase brain Tryprophan levels. This is due to elevated insulin which in promote uptake of LNAAs except Tryptophan to the muscles, and making Tryptophan available for the brain. This is caused by the fact that Tryptophan is bound to albumin whereas other LNAA are not. 

Exercise

Exercise has the same effect like insulin and carbs in helping Tryptophan reach the brain. Exercise mobilises amino-acids towards the muscle tissues and helps with the absorption of Tryptophan. Adding some daily walking after food is a great to support your Tryptophan!!!

Stress and inflammation

The calmer you are and the less your body suffers from inflammation, the more of your tryptophan goes toward making serotonin. The more stressed out or inflamed you are, the more of your tryptophan goes toward making quinolinic acid, a substance that’s bad for your brain. In other words, stress steals your tryptophan.

This is why,  under a lot of stress or with chronic inflammation or a chronic disease you crave carbohydrates. Your tryptophan is being stolen!

Dehydration

Dehydration can cause a severe depletion of tryptophan since water is key for passing of nutrients between the blood-brain barrier. It is also a natural regulator for salt absorption.

Summary

  • Support Tryptophan to reach your brain and make hormones like seratonin by adding some carbs with dinner, taking long walks and drinking plenty of water throughout the day. 
  • Meditation and stress management is also essential as it hurts your Tryptophan status.

Where to get Tryptophan from

Tryptophan is present in small amounts in most protein foods and in higher amounts in eggs, yoghurt, milk, bananas, dates, poultry, and peanuts. Good amounts are also spinach, seaweed, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, turnip greens, red lettuce, asparagus.

Food rich in antioxidant compounds will improve tryptophan status in the brain. These compounds counteract immune response and tryptophan breakdown. Compounds like vitamin C and E, resveratrol and coffee flavonoids have been shown to be helpful.

With regards to triggering enough insulin you don’t need a lot carbs. Adding one cooled-down potato to your dinner will trigger the processes required to ensure proper Tryptophan utilisation.

Note that taking pure tryptophan works in a different way than when it is obtained from a food source.

Final Thoughts

We all know stress is a big factor when sleeping. Now you know why. As your tryptophan levels drop, so do your serotonin levels. Suddenly you’re depressed, and you find yourself bingeing on chocolate and carbs. What’s more, with your serotonin levels tumbling, you don’t have enough serotonin to make melatonin, so you can’t sleep.  The key to keeping your tryptophan from being stolen is to identify your stressors.

By implementing stress reduction techniques, you can turn your tryptophan into feel-good serotonin and sleep-well melatonin.  Pratice breathing for a few minutes every day to help you wind down and be relaxed.

Exercise and even walking can do wonders for your Tryptophan  levels which you can always have some healthy carbs with your evening meal to help you get naturally into sleep!

Further Reading




5 meals a day disaster

5 meals a day is still to this day a common practise for better health. Do 5-meals a day benefit us or are they causing havoc to our body?

The purpose of 5 meals a day

The purpose of eating frequently is usually two-fold

  • To maintain constant energy and avoid hunger
  • To avoid hypo-glycemia

Why would these two topics be an issue?

Usually nutrition plans that are designed for weight loss come with a low calorie plan to ensure a colorie deficit and are based on a high-carb / low-fat meals. A small portion of chicken with no skin and rice is usually a stample in such diets. The problem here is that low-carolie diets puts in a energy crisis mode. We are starving our body from nutrients and we are never satiated.

The second problem is that by having carbs like pasta, rice, potatoes as our main energy source we spike our glucose to high and the sudden drop as the glucose is being absorbed can cause hypo-glycemia, a sense of feeling tired and sleepy

It does sound like with 5-meals a day we are actually only making the issues worse!

The snacking problem

Another issue with 5-meals a day is the term snacking. I am sure you have heard “I am not hungry I just need a small snack”.  Snacking can be a big issue as many people don’t even realise how often they snack or even what snacks they have. This is a very big problem because leads to over-eating and eating lower quality foods. Most people don’t snack on carrots but with cookies, cakes, or other refined fruit.

What can we do

There many things one can do, but I would suggest that eating nutritionally dense food which give the right satiety signals to our body is the right starting point. This will in turn balance blood glucose and makes have more stable energy throughout the day.

Add healthy fat to your meals : Adding some healthy fats will give you the right satiety and help with the blood glucose spike. 

3-meals a day : Eating until satisfied will give you the right signals and will keep you going until the next meal without the need for snacking. Eating 3-meals a day will give you all the nutrients and calories you need. 

Final Thoughts

  • Snacking is the first thing to address in any transformation journey.
  • Removing snacks will help with eating better, more nutrient dense foods during those meals
  • Removing snacks will also help help balance blood glucose and give you a more stable energy.