Check your tongue right now.
Seriously check your tongue!
Is it currently touching the roof of your mouth?
Do you experience the infamous afternoon slump around 2 pm?
Do you wake up feeling tired even after 8+ hours of sleep?
How about feeling exhausted but wired when you finally get into bed?
If you answered yes to any of these, you might be experiencing sympathetic dominance.
Hi I'm Kamela Celeste! Holistic Health Coach, NASM CPT, and Pilates Instructor.
And today I’m talking about how to get a better nights sleep
So, what the heck is sympathetic dominance?!
Well, to spare you a long biology lesson, you might remember learning in school about the body having all different kinds of systems within ourselves. Two of these systems are the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
The SNS is a stimulatory and energy-expending system responsible for our “fight or flight” responses and is often fueled by adrenaline, the hormone that gets us super amped up when there is a perceived threat. For example to outrun a lion trying to make us their dinner or even simply from a huge cup of coffee we consume attempting to power us through a stressful day. But since both situations activate this same system, our body can’t tell the difference which is often why we tend to stay in this state. This has been proven to be correlated with many other health issues, such as weight gain, food cravings, impaired sleep quality, low moods, and reduced self-esteem.
On the other hand, we have the PNS or Parasympathetic nervous system which is a calming, energy-conserving system. The PSN controls things like rest, digestion, repair, and reproduction.
Now that we know what each of these systems is responsible for - It's important to recognize we want to have a synergistic balance between both systems to ensure we're able to do things like respond to danger when needed or even concentrate on reading this blog post but we also want to able to relax, rest, digest our food when consuming a meal, and slow down when it’s time to get some sleep.
So let’s look at a couple of ways to activate our PSN and simple things we can do for a better nights sleep:
Such an easy way to activate our parasympathetic nervous system is through diaphragmatic or box method breathing. Both are highly effective and can be done anywhere!
2. Turning off electronics & dimming bright light
Blue light is the type of light that comes from the sun during the day and triggers our natural internal clock, our circadian rhythm that tells us it's time to wake up and be alert for the day. Blue light is also emitted from devices like our phones, TV, laptops, little light on our wifi routers etc. My tip here is to invest in some blue light blocking glasses, download an app such as f.lux to block blue light on your laptop or computer but also most devices these days come with "night mode" or warm light functions that help to tone down any blue light emitted.
Stop watching TV and turn off/ dim any bright lights 2 hours before heading to bed for better and deeper rest.
3. Cut the late-night alcohol
Alcohol is known to cause or increase symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and disrupted sleep patterns overall. Late-night alcohol also alters nighttime melatonin production, which plays a key role in your body’s circadian rhythm and ability to reach that deep sleep (REM sleep) we're in need of.
Another study found that alcohol consumption at night decreased the natural nighttime elevations in human growth hormone (HGH), which plays a role in your circadian rhythm and has many other key functions.
4. Optimize your bedroom environment
Minimize external noise, light from outside, and artificial lights from devices like phones, TV, alarm clocks. Tidy up, put away any laundry, clutter, etc to help you mentally unwind and wind down before heading to bed
5. Spend more time outdoors
A daily dose of vitamin D from the sun is a fantastic way to reset your nervous system and down-regulate the body’s sympathetic response.
6. Magnesium Baths
Like Epsom salt but magnesium. Studies indicate that they can help improve overall sleep quality and help people fall asleep faster.
Another study found, taking a hot bath 90 minutes before bed improved sleep quality and helped people get more deep sleep
7. Meditation/ Yoga
There is so much research on their positive impact on our nervous systems and overall health. A daily 10-20 minute meditation session and/ or 1-3 yoga sessions each week will really help you to tap out of a sympathetic dominant state.
And that’s about it - I hope you found this video helpful! If you did be sure to like the video and follow me on Instagram @kamelaceleste for even more free helpful weekly wellness content just like this.
And if you are interested in how I can help you by becoming your virtual health coach click here for more information on my 3 month health coaching program
I will see you guys in the next one
(Sources: The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, "The Perception of Stress" by Libby Weaver MD, Happy Healthy You - Parasympathetic & Sympathetic Nervous System by Tahlia Thomas, & Healthline)