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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Prioritizing Sleep For Men’s Health

May 31, 2024 09:31AM ● By Alora Frederick, RDN, LDN

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, sleep often falls by the wayside for many individuals. With societal narratives such as “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” or “Rest is for the weak”, adequate sleep can often be far down on a long priority list for adult men. However, in the context of men’s health, it’s imperative to understand the vital importance of sleep.

Sleep plays a pivotal role in various aspects of men’s well-being, including mental health, weight management, heart health, diabetes and cancer risk. Quality sleep is not merely a luxury; it’s a crucial component of the prevention and treatment of various health issues. Adequate sleep supports mental health by regulating mood and cognition, aids in weight management by balancing hormones, and influences daily cravings and eating patterns. The textbook rule of thumb for adults is seven to eight hours a night. Ideally, each person can get into bed and fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes, wake up without an alarm clock and feel rested. Insufficient sleep, sleep disturbances or both can exacerbate these common health conditions in men.  

Numerous factors can disrupt sleep patterns, ranging from lifestyle choices to underlying imbalances in the body. Eating too late can hinder sleep quality by causing discomfort, triggering reflux and pre-occupying the body with digestion instead of cellular regeneration. Blood sugar dysregulation throughout the day and especially at night will disturb sleep. The last meal of the day should ideally be at least three hours before bedtime and include a balance of fiber-rich foods, protein and whole-food complex starchy carbs like whole grains, squash, beans and or potatoes. The balance of these macronutrients stabilizes blood sugar over the course of the night and prevents sleep disruptions.

Underlying cortisol imbalances can be aggravated by the nightly TV news, blue light exposure from screens and the absence of a bedtime routine when our bodies and thoughts are calmed before entering sleep. If cortisol patterns are dysregulated, cortisol will spike randomly within the night waking up an individual and making it difficult to fall back asleep. More complex conditions involving histamine issues, chronic inflammation in the body from infections or stagnant liver health will also disrupt sleep.

Fortunately, there are various strategies men can employ to improve their sleep quality and overall well-being. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine, limiting screen time before bed and sleeping in a cool, dark environment can drastically enhance sleep quality. Finding healthy outlets for stress, such as exercise, meditation and minimizing exposure to stress-inducing content, can reduce cortisol levels and promote relaxation before bedtime.

Also, there’s a range of natural compounds and herbal remedies that can aid in enhancing sleep quality and promoting restful nights. Castor oil packs are an age-old remedy for aiding in liver detoxification, reducing inflammation and supporting continuous sleep throughout the night. Tart cherry juice, known for its natural melatonin content, can aid in regulating sleep-wake cycles and promote deeper sleep. Incorporating herbs like valerian root, passionflower, chamomile and lavender into nightly routines can have calming effects and improve sleep quality. While melatonin supplements can be beneficial for some it does not work for all. There are many other supplements like magnesium or CBD that may prove helpful. 

Prioritizing sleep is essential for both mental and physical health, weight management and daily functioning. By understanding the factors that disrupt sleep and implementing effective solutions, men can reclaim their nights and awaken feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Alora Frederick, RDN, LDN, is an integrative and functional dietitian in Waltham, MA. She is currently accepting new patients at Johnson Compounding and Wellness for virtual nutrition appointments. Schedule a free,15-minute, introductory call at