Stress Less, Sleep More



Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue shares her natural tips
Winter isn’t quite yet over (we’re almost there!), and the colder weather does tend to get people more into a funk. Looking to beat those blues? We spoke with general practitioner and traveling lecturer Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue about what causes the winter blahs and how you can beat them… naturally!

What causes increased stress and anxiety during the winter season?
“The shorter days affect one’s mood, as does switching from hot to cold environments,” says Dr. Rheaume-Bleue. “The brain is then confronted with this stressful change, sending the message to the adrenal glands.”

What are adrenal glands?
Located above the kidneys, the adrenal glands produce adrenaline and cortisol hormones. “Nowadays, stress is fast-paced and chronic,” the expert points out. “The glands become fatigued and don’t function as well as they could. When they’re overworked, they don’t produce these much-needed hormones.” Dr. Rheaume-Bleue also notes that, on the flip side, we can end up getting more when don’t need it, like at night, which can lead to insomnia.

How prevalent is stress and anxiety in women?
“Anxiety is one of the top three concerns for women, leading to a lack of sleep.” Dr. Rheaume-Bleue says that women have more sleep problems than men, as that they are so busy taking care of others, they end up not taking care of themselves.

What are a few ways women can get more sleep at night?
The doctor says that there are three categories of sleep tips. “First, there are the common sense tips, such as sleeping in a dark room, which helps increase melatonin.”

The second category is adopting healthy habits, which may not seem as if they’re connected to getting a good night’s sleep, but actually are. “For example, what you eat at breakfast can affect your sleep,” says Dr. Rheaume-Bleue. “Processed foods can cause your blood sugar to skyrocket, fluxuating up and down all day long, which can interfere with your sleep.” She suggests eating less sugary cereals and more eggs, which have fat and protein, as well as fibre, whole grain, and flaxseeds, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

The third category is taking herbs, supplements and nutrients. The doctor’s first suggestion is 100mg of L-theanine chewables, which is an amino acid that can be found in green tea and is great to take in the evening, allowing your mind to calm down and relax. There are also natural sleep aids, such as 5-HTP, which can help with your body’s production of melatonin. As for those adrenal glands, herbs like ashwagandha, eleutherococcus, lavender and rhodiola can help them function properly, allowing them to do their job a whole lot better. Vitamin D is also great to take daily, as your body produces less of it when there isn’t much sunlight.

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