better nights sleep

Serotonin is a chemical produced by our bodies that helps regulates our moods, appetite and sleep. If you often experience mood swings, have an out of whack appetite or often feel fatigued or just plain low you might have a serotonin imbalance. There are a few different medications you can take to help boost your levels of serotonin, but these each have their own set of side effects. Luckily, there are a few natural ways you can actually elevate your serotonin.

Lana Foree, MD, co-author of Better Baby book, knows about the affect having low serotonin levels can have on you from her own experience, which she explains in this passage from her book:

“My friend Julie and I meet for our weekly ‘mommy and me’ yoga with our babies and like most other mothers in this group, with children ranging from 3 – 6 months old, we feel out of shape, concerned about the last 15 lbs that aren’t disappearing fast enough and certain that our children will never sleep through the night. We are tired, moody, and would kill for a week of sleep and a visible waist!”

Dr. Foree has done quite a lot of research to find out just how we can naturally increase our serotonin levels and she has graciously agreed to share some of the helpful tips she has learned.

One of the ways you can bring your serotonin levels back up to normal is to have more restful sleep. “The solution is to sleep, and not just more, but better.” Dr. Foree says. And while of course it can be hard to get a restful sleep when you have a baby keeping you up all night, there are a few things you can do to help promote restful sleep. Install black out curtains, cover up any blinking or glowing lights, use ear plugs and you might even want to try a white noise machine. If you didn’t get enough sleep, try to take a nap sometime during the day, even if it is only 20 minutes.

Eating healthy fats can also help boost chemical production, including serotonin. Dr. Foree suggests increasing your consumption of grass fed butter, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and MCT oil, which also benefits the hair and skin.  Some food items that also have healthy fats are fresh walnuts, almonds, and avocado. At the same time, you’ll want to avoid foods that are high in sugar, refined carbs, caffeine and alcohol because they decrease the conversion from tryptophan to serotonin.

Research shows that light therapy is effective to help lift bad moods or depression caused by low serotonin. “You want lights as close to the wavelengths in sunlight as you can get.,” Dr. Foree says. “An affordable solution is industrial strength flood lights with halogen bulbs.” Be sure to turn on such lights as soon as you wake up, or better yet open up your shades to let in the natural sunlight.  Sunlamps can be very helpful, but of course it is always less expensive to just go outside!

While you’re out there soaking up the sunlight, take 20 to 30 minutes to exercise. Exercising this much everyday can also increase your serotonin level.

Supplements you can take to increase your serotonin include a daily multivitamin, B-vitamin complex, Magnesium, Vitamin D, krill oil and Inositol.

Find more suggestions on Dr. Foree’s website