Salt and sleep are two words that don’t naturally seem to belong in the same sentence, but salt may actually be the missing link between you and a good night’s sleep.
Sleep and salt are connected by simple metabolic processes. Salt has very specific effects on stress hormones and brain chemicals that can lead to less stress and better sleep.
But Isn’t Salt Bad for Me?
Before we get into how salt can help you get better sleep, I want to dispel the “low-salt” myth. Low-salt diets are promoted as healthy for everyone, but the scientific evidence disagrees.
“No strong evidence exists that advising people to eat less salt or putting them on a low-salt diet reduces their death rate or cuts cardiovascular events, an analysis of seven studies found.” – from Bloomberg News
But there is some evidence that low-salt diets can actually have a negative impact on our metabolic health:
- Low-salt diets have been linked to promoting insulin resistance in healthy individuals. When two groups of men and women were given a high-salt diet versus a low-salt diet, the low salt diet group developed markers for insulin resistance.
- One 2011 study found that people who consume a moderate amount of salt were in the lowest risk category for heart problems and death, even lower than people who ate less salt. In this study, “moderate” sodium intake was about 4,000 – 6,000 milligrams per day. (Interesting, when you consider the USDA recommends sodium intake should be less than 2,300 milligrams per day.)
How Salt Can Help You Get Better Sleep
Now on to the good stuff. Salt can help you relax and finally get to sleep in two ways:
Salt Lowers Stress. You know those nights when you can’t sleep because your mind is racing with thoughts about work or something else you’re stressed about? Salt can actually help calm you down! Research shows that salt has a unique effect on stress levels. Having enough sodium in your bloodstream can reduce your stress response, so you don’t experience as much anxiety about things that might normally stress you out .
Salt Raises Oxytocin Levels. Salt also contributes to another important anti-stress action in the body: it raises your oxytocin levels . Oxytocin is a hormone that helps you feel calm and relaxed, and increases your sense of well being–the exact feelings you’ll want to experience if you’re trying to settle down and get ready for sleep.
How to Use Salt to Get Better Sleep
Here are some easy ways you can use salt to get better sleep:
Salt your food to taste during the day. Follow your body’s cues when it comes to salt intake. As long as you’re eating mostly whole, unprocessed foods, the body has a pretty good sense of how much salt you need.
Throughout the day, your need for salt may fluctuate depending on many factors that affect your electrolyte balance, so listening to your body and salting your food to taste is the best way to maintain the balance your body needs for optimal metabolic function.
Eat a balanced bedtime snack. A simple snack that contains fat, protein and carbohydrates plus a little salt can do wonders for your sleep. Try something like this:
- vegetable broth salted to taste with a side of rice
- a serving of your favorite dessert with some salted nuts
Drink a bedtime tonic with a dash of salt. Try adding a dash or two of salt to a calming bedtime tonic like homemade hot chocolate sweetened with maple syrup or honey, or to your favorite herbal tea (holy basil and chamomile are especially calming).
Take it straight. Some people find it easy to simply put up to 1/8 teaspoon of salt straight on their tongue and then chase it with a small glass of fresh juice, real milk or filtered water.
What Kind of Salt is Best?
Commercial table salt is often loaded with additives, so at the very least, choose a salt that is additive-free (such as canning salt). Even better, go with a natural sea salt (like this one) that contains trace minerals in addition to sodium.
Elizabeth Walling is a health and wellness blogger at The Nourished Life and author of The Nourished Metabolism. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about nutrition and metabolism. She embraces an approach to getting healthy that includes listening to your body and throwing dietary dogma out the window where it belongs. You can also find Elizabeth on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/
How To Use Himalayan Salt Lamps For Better Sleep and Mental Clarity
I’ve invited my nutritional guru Heather back to guest blog again this week. She’s going to be writing a series on something important to all travelers… sleep! Check out her earlier posts this week about sleep:
Did you know that salt may help you sleep better?
Sounds crazy right?
Sleep and salt are connected through the metabolic process because of the effects salt has on stress hormones and brain chemicals. So less stress equals better sleep!
Maybe the “low-salt” diet myth is not true after all….
Studies now show that low salt diets are not actually healthy for everyone. One study claimed that no strong evidence exists that advising people to eat less salt or putting them on a low salt diet reduces their death rate or cuts cardiovascular events.
Here is what a “low salt” diet may do to your metabolism:
– May promote insulin resistance in healthy individuals.
– People that consume a moderate amount of salt are in the lowest risk category for heart problems and death, even lower than people who consume low salt diets.
How salt can help you relax:
1) Salt lowers stress: racing thoughts, stressed about work, stressed about travelling, exhausted from too many things to do. (enter salt)
Salt helps you calm down. Having adequate sodium in your blood stream actually decreases your anxiety, lowers your blood pressure and improves your bodily response to stress.
2) Salt raises oxytocin levels
what is oxytocin anyways…It is a hormone that helps you feel calm and relaxed, increases your sense of confidence and wellbeing and improves your relaxation. How everyone wants to feel before they sleep, right…?
Is all salt created equal? NO
I also love this sleepy dust recipe you can check it out here
What do you think?
Image Source: www.bodyunburdened.com
Heather Heefner MS, RD, LD, CLT is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian who blogs at www.thefittestfuel.com and www.intolerablewomen.org. Heather is passionate about helping people establish a balanced lifestyle by leading by example and is committed to spreading the truth about food to help people live life to the fullest. Heather believes that nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated…but with a little practice it becomes habit! Visit her websites for more information about her services.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND HIMALAYAN SALT LAMPS: HOW THEY BENEFIT YOUR SLEEP AND MENTAL HEALTH
THESE ROCK! HIMALAYAN SALT LAMPS
By Arwa Lodhi
Ever wondered why you feel so good when you’re on holiday, with the sea breeze blowing through your hair, your skin kissed by the salty air and sun?
Of course there are lots of reasons: less pollution, more sunshine, not having to join hoards of stressed out commuters on the train after sleeping badly each night…but one reason for your sense of well being by the sea is ionized air.
Research has proven that the amount of ions in the environment beneficial to humans should range between 1000-1500/cm3. Scientific tests have revealed that the ratio of negative to positive ions should be between 1.02to 0.98, yet in typical offices or rooms in the house where a few people are gathered at the same time, the amount of negative ions may fall to as low as 200/cm3. This is because harmful positive ions are emitted from computers and mobile phones, dryers, cigarette smoke, photocopiers, TVs and other electronic items commonly found in homes and offices.
So, how can we bring sea air to a city setting? Fortunately, negative ions fill the air before thunderstorms, even in the city. You can also buy ionizers for the air, and these are sometimes included as options in good quality air conditioners and humidifiers. But maybe the cheapest and most effective way is buy using a Himalayan Rock Crystal lamp.
Himalayan Rock Crystal Salt Lamps are made up from ancient salt that originated from oceans millions of years old, when the oceans were free from any man made contaminants. The effects of the salts are similar to those of an ionizer, but it is the heating of the salt crystal with a small bulb inside the lamp. This attracts water molecules from the air, forming a NaCl and H20 solution. Sodium is a positive ion, and Chloride, a negative ion. Hydrogen has a two part negative charge and Oxygen is a positively charged ion. These ions create a reaction of two positive ions and three negative ones; after cancelling each other out, one lone negative ion is produced. This negative ion seeks out the first positive ion like a dust, or bacteria particle and zaps it, making your environment cleaner and safer.
Bioenergy therapists and homeopaths have recommended crystal salt lamps for a long time to support treatment of allergies, respiratory and blood systems and rheumatism. Because of their pinkish hue, they are also used in chromotherapy to help sooth nervousness and insomnia, but they work to calm us down in another way: ever noticed that you can’t sleep after watching TV, looking at a computer screen or mobile phone for hours on end? These activities disrupt sleep because the constant light of the monitors interrupts production of melatonin, the ‘sleeping hormone’ that makes us tired.
In addition, electromagnetic fields from electronic devices produce frequencies of approximately 100-160Hz. Our brainwaves however, produce only 8Hz according to the Schuman resonance frequency. Therefore, the body is exposed to up to 20 times higher frequency patterns than it is generally used to, and the consequences of this can be nervousness, insomnia and lack of concentration. Electromagnetic fields also cause an accumulation of free radicals in the body, known to be a cause of cancer, but Himalayan Salt Lamps can neutralise this effect.
It’s not for nothing that salt is called the “Vitamins of The Air”. While a beach house may not be affordable for all, the Salt Crystal lamp is nature’s next best ioniser, providing multiple health benefits and looking organically chic, too.
SCIENCE WATCH; Salt and Sleep
Published: July 4, 1989
Low-sodium diets can cause fitful sleep, researchers have found.
In a study of nine men, the test subjects woke up more often during the night and slept less soundly when they were on low-sodium diets than when their diets included normal or high amounts of sodium, the researchers said.
But the scientists cautioned that people with high blood pressure should continue to keep their sodium intake low, because the benefit from a low-sodium diet with respect to blood pressure outweighs its detrimental effect on sleeping.
”This doesn’t mean that people with disturbed sleep should reach for the salt shaker more often,” said Dr. Michael V. Vitiello, who presented the study’s results last month at a meeting of the Association of Professional Sleep Societies in Washington. ”There are a variety of reasons sleep can be disturbed,” he said.
But the findings may lead to a better understanding of why people tend to have increasing difficulty sleeping as they get older, said Dr. Vitiello, the director of the sleep and aging research program at the University of Washington in Seattle.
The study looked at the sleep of nine 23-year-old men who were placed on low-, normal- and high-sodium diets. When they were on low-sodium diets, about 500 milligrams a day, the men woke up during the night nearly twice as often and got about 10 percent less sleep than when they were on normal diets, which included 2,000 milligrams daily. When they were on a high-sodium diet, 5,000 milligrams a day, the men slept longer and with slightly fewer nighttime wakings than when they were on normal diets.
Low levels of sodium in the blood cause blood volume to decrease, and the sympathetic nervous system becomes more active in order to compensate, Dr. Vitiello said. That causes sleepers to wake up more often and have difficulty going back to sleep.
How to Manufacture the Best Night of Sleep in Your Life