As we’ve explained previously, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recognises a fifth season: that of late summer. Late summer relates to the element of earth, which in turn is linked to sweet flavours and the need for earthing, or the practice of connecting to the earth’s energy. You can read more about this in our seasonal living post here.
Whether you struggle to get to sleep in the first place or find yourself suddenly wide awake in the early hours, insomnia can have a huge impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Today, SOL expert Florence Neville shares advice for those of you having difficulty sleeping during late summer. Specifcally, she explains the benefits of paying attention to your sugar intake and incorporating simple grounding techniques into your day.
Not Such Sweet Slumber
Consuming excessive levels of carbohydrates (particularly sugar) disrupts our diurnal rhythms (twenty-four-hour circadian rhythms) and causes hormonal imbalance. Reducing sugar intake improves our long-term energy levels and improves sleep.
One of the reasons sugar impacts our sleep is due to its relationship with the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for releasing glucose into the bloodstream to raise and maintain energy levels, either when our blood glucose levels have dipped, or we need extra energy in an emergency.
We also have a natural twenty-four-hour cortisol cycle that’s higher in the morning when we need to get going for the day and lower in the evening so we can sleep. High sugar intake is a common cause of a disrupted cortisol cycle, so when we work on removing excess refined sugar from the diet there tends to be a positive effect on sleep.
Here are a few tips for supporting your cortisol cycle…
- Include a little extra fat and protein in your breakfasts: eggs, butter, coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds etc. can all help to keep our blood glucose stable throughout the morning.
- Have a substantial lunch – lots of veggies, some proteins and some fats can help to maintain our energy levels throughout the afternoon.
- Adding some complex carbohydrates, such as pumpkins, sweet potatoes or rice, to your evening meal can help you relax in the evenings and get to sleep more easily.
- Some people find that eating a spoon of raw honey before they go to bed helps them sleep more soundly as it can stave off a spike in cortisol production in the early hours of the morning. Alternatively, try stirring a heaped teaspoon each of honey and tahini into a mug of warm almond milk before topping with ground nutmeg.
Grounding Techniques to Help You Drift Off and Stay Asleep
Earthing practices (also known as grounding) help regulate our diurnal rhythms and improves hormonal balance. Neglecting to earth ourselves regularly can negatively impact our energy levels and our ability to sleep throughout the night.
While science hasn’t yet been able to explain exactly why earthing is so effective, there are plenty of studies providing evidence of the major benefits. These include reducing inflammation and chronic pain, improving heart health and regulating blood glucose.
Taking some time each day to earth ourselves contributes towards us sleeping better at night. When shoes, carpets and plastic flooring insulate us from the earth’s charge, or when we spend time in close proximity to electric cables, we tend to run up a mildly positive charge, rather like static electricity from a nylon carpet. When we spend time walking on soil or sand, paddling or swimming in natural waterways, and climbing up trees or over rocks, our exchange with the negative ions released by the earth improves all our bioelectrical and biochemical processes.
So, how can we easily fit earthing practices into our day? Here are a few of my favourite practices…
- Each morning, I pad outside barefoot into my garden with a mug of something hot. If I’m working long hours on the computer, I’ll repeat the process several times throughout the day.
- When I sunbathe, I lie or sit on a blanket on the ground rather than using a sunbed or chair.
- I like to walk barefoot whenever the terrain and temperature permit. I find it particularly helps after I’ve been travelling or I’ve had to spend any time in a shopping centre.
Have you tried grounding yourself? What are your favourite techniques?
Love Lizzie, Florence and the SOL team x