There are lots of healthy ways to tackle Candida overgrowth – changing your diet, taking supplements or reducing stress. But did you realize that your sleep has also has a huge impact on your recovery from Candida?
Getting enough sleep each night is becoming more and more problematic. Electronic devices, irregular working hour and daily stress are keeping sleep at bay. Unfortunately, this is doing more than making us tired. It’s also ruining our health. Studies show that sleep deprivation is linked to weak immune function, causing your body to be more vulnerable to opportunistic yeasts and pathogens such as Candida.
Not only that, but poor sleep also causes – and is caused by – sluggish adrenal function. Our adrenal glands are also intrinsically linked to our immune system, effectively predisposing us to illness and disease when we’re tired and strung-out.
Poor adrenal function and an over-burdened immune system are a recipe for Candida overgrowth. It’s therefore more important than ever to focus on getting the rest you need each night for your body to be strong and healthy. Here’s a list of proven techniques for helping you get the sleep you need.
1. Manage Your Screen Time
Screens are your worst enemy when it comes to trying to get to sleep. Studies show that using screens before bedtime suppresses your body’s production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Melatonin plays a crucial role in inducing sleep and maintaining your Circadian rhythm.
- Keep your TV out of your bedroom.
- Switch off your smartphone, tablet and laptop at least 30 minutes before bed. If possible, leave them out of your room altogether. Otherwise, activate the ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode on your phone.
- Disconnect from your online life at night. This way, your brain will realize that electronic stimulus has finished once you’re in your bedroom, and it is time for rest.
2. Create a Sleep-Easy Environment
The brain is an incredibly sensitive organ. Sometimes, even the smallest amount of light or noise can prevent your brain from switching off.
- Switch off appliances off at the mains. Standby lights can disturb sensitive sleepers.
- Invest in heavier, darker curtains. They will help to keep light out of your room. Wearing a sleeping mask can also help.
- Consider the warmth and comfort of your bed linen.
- Set the right temperature. Adjust the temperature of your room to suit you – in both summer and winter.
- Reduce noise. Switch off devices and close windows to block out external noise. If necessary, invest in a good, comfortable pair of earplugs or a white noise generator.
3. Eat Well
These foods may help induce sleep before you hit the hay. Note that while on the Candida Diet you should be limiting your intake of fruits.
- Cherries: Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, the chemical that regulates your body’s internal clock. A handful of cherries a couple of hours before bedtime may help to establish your sleeping pattern. Cherries are a good choice on a Candida diet because they are low in natural sugars and super-nutritious.
- Kefir: The old wives’ tale about drinking a warm glass of milk before bed may have real merit. Kefir, just like milk, contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which is a precursor to the brain-produced chemical serotonin. Many experts believe that serotonin and tryptophan can induce sleep.
- Bananas: The potassium and magnesium content in bananas can help improve relaxation and sleepiness. Note that bananas are on the foods to avoid list, but they might be OK for you if you are further along in the plan.
- Turkey: Like milk, turkey contains tryptophan. Try having a turkey dinner one evening to see if its effect takes hold.
And these are the foods that WON’T help!
- Alcohol: Alcohol can play havoc with your blood sugar, which can cause you to wake up several times during the night.
- Caffeine: Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and elevates your levels of stress hormones. Coffee can reduce the quality of your sleep even when taken six hours before bedtime. Dark chocolate is high in both caffeine and theobromine, two stimulants that can lead to sleeplessness.
- Spicy Food: These can cause uncomfortable indigestion – which obviously won’t help you rest!
4. Establish A Routine
Setting a morning routine and sticking to it is vital for maintaining a regular sleeping pattern.
- Set your alarm for 20-30 minutes before you actually have to get up. This allows you to ease in to the morning without too much stress.
- Keep a regular schedule. Keeping a regular schedule from sunrise to sunset is the best way to regulate your Circadian rhythm and trains your brain to shut off at a specific time.
- Create a pre-bedtime routine: take a hot bath, read, or carry out your nightly beauty regime. Your brain will come to recognize these actions as a prelude to sleep.
5. Set Sleep-Promoting Habits
These healthy habits will improve your ability to relax and switch off at night.
- Walking, swimming, jogging or any light exercise. This is just enough to produce the endorphins that make you feel good and burn excess energy.
- Avoid caffeine six hours before bed. The stimulant effect of caffeine will only delay sleep, and can also contribute to adrenal fatigue. Stick to water or herbal teas.
- Stabilize your body’s ‘master clock’. Expose yourself to bright light during the day, and total darkness in your bedroom at night.
- Try not to nap. Although tempting, naps can sometimes be counter-productive.
6. Sleep-Inducing Techniques
Here are a few exercises to help you to fall asleep while in bed.
- Deep breathing. Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths, trying to make each breath even deeper than the last. Focus your mind on something other than falling asleep.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. This is a low impact, full body exercise that can be done whilst lying in bed. Starting at the very tip of your toes, tense all of the muscles as tightly as you can and hold for up to ten seconds before completely relaxing again. This act of intense constriction followed by quick release causes the muscles to relax.
- Visualization: Close your eyes and imagine an activity or place that is particularly peaceful and calm. Concentrating on this ‘happy place’ sends relaxing vibes from your brain to the rest of your body.
Sleep is essential to good health and overall wellbeing. It’s the chance for your body to repair and heal from the day’s activities. Improving your sleep patterns is the first step in empowering your immune system and adrenal glands to fight off Candida overgrowth.
Remember to check out our Ultimate Candida Diet plan for a comprehensive look at how lifestyle and dietary changes can help to improve your digestion and overall health!