Top 5 Ways To Improve Your Sleep Quality

Improve your sleep | Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor-in-the-Annex

Are you getting enough sleep?

We've all felt the effects of poor sleep- fatigue, decreased cognitive function, craving for carbohydrate foods and caffeine, low motivation and mood.

Let's face it- everything's compromised when we are not sufficiently rested.

Most often, it's the small lifestyle changes that improve your sleep the most.

As naturopaths, the following are our top five recommended ways to help our patients increase the quality of theirsleep.

Top 5 Ways to Improve the Quality and Quantity of Your Sleep

1. Maintain a consistent wake-up and bedtime.

We can help establish a regular circadian rhythm by encouraging a healthy cortisol pattern. When our body is used to winding down at the same time each night our cortisol level drops appropriately. When we rise from bed at the same time each morning our cortisol level spikes to give us energy.

2. Eliminate the use of electronics (mainly anything with a screen) for 1-2 hours before falling asleep.

Many people spend their hours before bed doing work on their laptops, watching Netflix or catching up on social media on their smartphones. These activities can be very stimulating to the brain (and it's stress response). While at the same time, the blue lights coming from the screens themselves decrease the secretion of melatonin which is essential for restorative sleep.

Improve your sleep | Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor-in-the-Annex

3. If possible, make your bedroom and electronic free zone.

About 8 hours of your day, or 1/3 of your life, is spent sleeping. The time you spend asleep (where there isn't any need for gadgets) is a great time to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields- the frequencies/signals that are emitted by our electronics. Additionally, you won't have to lay beside a phone lighting up, buzzing or beeping with notifications.

4. Buy an old school alarm clock.

To respond a common rebuttal for the last point - but my phone is my alarm clock - you can buy a good old simple alarm clock to wake you at a consistent time everyday. Furthermore, if you wake up to check the time- you're not checking it on your phone where you may be tempted to check your notifications.

5. Write out what's on your mind.

Going to bed anxious and cycling through lists of things to do and open loops in your mind can undoubtedly reduce sleep quality and quantity. Getting what's in your head out on paper allows you to rest assured that you won't forget anything and you can look at it the next day when it is a more appropriate time to take action.

Although these recommendations are simple, creating new habits requires time and perseverance. The rewards of these habits, waking up refreshed and having improved health, are worth the effort!

If you're curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free tobook a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1


To learn additional info on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: Annex Naturopathic

The Negative Effects of High Cortisol Levels


Cortisol is a commonly known hormone produced in the adrenal gland that sits on top of the kidney. Cortisol follows a daily pattern in which it rises rather rapidly in the first 10-30 minute after waking, increasing energy, then gradually decreases throughout the day so that it is low at night for sleep.

The cycle restarts the following morning.

In addition to being a factor in establishing diurnal rhythm, the production of cortisol is increased when the fight or flight response is triggered. This response is triggered in stressful situations.

What does cortisol do?

Cortisol effects metabolism by increasing blood sugar from the body's stores. It also influences the immune system by preventing the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation.

When individuals are under chronic stress, cortisol can become persistently elevated and lead to symptoms including:

Anxiety, depression, irritability.

  • Elevated cortisol influences enzymes and receptors for neurotransmitters which have effects on mood and emotion.

Carbohydrate, fat and/or salt cravings.

  • Cortisol is one of the hormones that raises blood pressure, it modulates brain regions that stimulate hunger for sodium and energy rich food. High sugar and high fat foods quiet the stress response because they trigger a dopamine release as a way to self-soothe by making us feel temporarily better.

High blood sugar and insulin resistance.

  • Cortisol raises blood sugar by signalling the production of blood sugar by the liver while at the same time opposing the action of insulin. This means that although there is high blood sugar, the body isn't able to use it.

Weight gain, especially in the abdominal region.

  • Cortisol opposes the actions of leptin, the hormone that tells us we are full after eating. At the same time, excess in blood sugaris converted to fat.

High blood pressure.

  • Cortisol triggers increased ingestion and retention of salt.


Insomnia and sleep disturbances

  • Cortisol can become dysregulated, rising in the evening (10pm second wind and difficulty falling asleep) and failing to spike in the morning (struggle getting up in the morning).

Hormonal imbalances and infertility.

  • Cortisol can inhibit the production of ovarian estrogen and progesterone. It can also decrease the frequency of ovulation.

Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Cortisol can cause decreased intestinal blood flow and altered movement of the gastrointestinal tract which leads to changes in the gut microflora.

If you suffer from any of the above symptoms and have a moderate degree of stress in your life- your cortisol levels may be a contributing factor.

Along with thorough intake, the naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic Clinic use a specialized diagnostic test called an adrenal hormone profile to objectively assess cortisol production and metabolism.

Furthermore, NDs can help restore balance through lifestyle recommendations, herbal medicine and targeted nutritional supplementation.

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To find additional info on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: holistic doctors

Understanding Your Body's Stress Response System


Chronic stress is detrimental to health. Our modern lifestyle is fast paced and dynamic. It can be hard for our bodies to keep up.

Stress is one of the root causes of many health concerns. The naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic Clinic assess their patient's stress and make connections to how it may be affecting other areas of their health.

Stress Response - Stage 1

Let's begin by understanding the stress response.

First we must acknowledge that the human body and its physiology has not changed significantly from that of our ancestors 50 000 years ago. However, the environment that humans live today is drastically different from hunter-gatherers.

To ensure the survival of our species, upon encountering a threat- let's say a bear- our fight or flight response creates a hormone cascade- including adrenaline- that would enable out body to fight the bear or run away as quickly as possible.

This initial response is called the alarm stage.


Stress Response - Stage 2

The second stage of the stress response is the resistance phase.

The body responds to the inflammatory environment created by the alarm stage . At this point, the brain signals to the adrenal glands to increase the production and release of cortisol. Cortisol, a hormone with anti-inflammatory properties (amongst many other actions), acts to quiet the immune response.

Once a certain amount of cortisol is reached in the blood stream, the brain stops singling the adrenal glands to respond, and cortisol production is normalized.


Stress Response - The Problem

The stress response outlined above is protective and beneficial if activated sporadically.

The problem that we encounter is modern society is that our stress response doesn't know the difference between encountering a bear and being in a high stress work environment.

Deadlines at work, traffic, finances, relationships, overextending ourselves socially, and information overload via technology are repeated and chronic stressors that leave the stress hormone cascades turned on and levels of cortisol and adrenaline higher than appropriate.


Our bodies are only meant to see surges in these hormones in fleeting glances.

When we are exposed to repeated stressors, too close together our hormones become out of balance (notably, chronically elevated cortisol) and negative health outcomes ensue including altered circadian rhythm, elevated blood sugar, gastrointestinal concerns and altered immune response.

Naturopathic doctors are able assess stress and its effects through specialized testing and comprehensive intake and offer solutions that can make the body more resilient in the face of modern living.

If you're curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1


To get more information about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: downtown toronto naturopathy

DIY Aluminum Cleaner

  • 1/4 cup soap flakes

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar

  • 1/2 cup baking soda

  • 1/2 cup cream of tarter

Combine cream of tartar and baking soda. Add vinegar and mix to form a soft paste. Add soap flakes and transfer to a jar or bottle with a solid lid. Label for future use.

To use, apply with a steel wool pad, then rinse off. Store out of reach of children.

Get your dried, organic herbs, organic essential oils, bulk spices, loose leaf organic teas and aromatherapy supplies at the place where we shop StarWest Botanicals!

Digestive Problems Got you Down? You May have SIBO and therefore a Solution

Digestive Problems Got you Down? You May have SIBO and therefore a SolutionHave you been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Have your digestive concerns been worked up though ultrasounds, endoscopies and colonoscopies, only to come back completely normal? Have you been told that your digestive problems are just are what they are and are left to just fend for yourself, avoid all the food, and live your life always worrying about how your stomach will react?

There might be an actual name for your nameless digestive problems, and it might just be called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the most popular modalities in the world of natural medicine, so you may have heard of it before. And if you have, you probably have some misconceptions about it as well.

Photos of people undergoing acupuncture might scare you away from the treatment forever, but it’s not as painful as it looks. In fact, most patients report very little or no pain at all. But more on that later.

Many naturopathic doctors in Toronto are trained acupuncturists, including Dr. Lee and Dr. Luck here at Annex Naturopathic. So we put this article together for you to explain more about acupuncture, clear up any misconceptions, and help you know what to expect.


First off, does acupuncture hurt?

This is the most common question. It does look painful, doesn’t it? It sounds painful too; getting dozens of tiny needles stuck into you doesn’t seem like an enjoyable experience.

But acupuncture needles are not designed to pierce deeply into your skin the way a hypodermic injection needle does. They do pierce the skin, but on a much more superficial level. On top of that, acupuncture needles are much smaller.

Most people say they feel only a slight pinprick along with a mild tingling sensation, and sometimes a mild, dull ache. Occasionally, a needle may hit a blood vessel or a small nerve, which can cause the pinprick to be more painful, but still quite mild.


Where does acupuncture come from?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest medicinal practices from China. Archaeologists have found evidence of what looks like acupuncture needles from as far back as 6000 BCE. We've also found that Otzi, the "Ice Man" who was pulled from a glacier and died around 3300 BCE, had tattoos on some of the meridianal channels used in acupuncture. Otzi was from Europe, so this could mean early Europeans created their own version of acupuncuture!

The earliest confirmed date of what is undoubtedly acupuncture, though, comes from about 100 BCE in The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine. This explains the concepts of the meridianal channels through which qi (energy, or life force) flow.

Europeans first came upon acupuncture in the 17th century, when the East India Company began trading with China and Japan. But it wasn't until 1971, when a member of the US press corps was given acupuncture while in China to help recover from an emergency appendectomy, that acupuncture began to gain popularity in the west.

Today, acupuncture is commonly used to treat a number of different ailments, with new research being done on its effects all the time.


What is acupuncture good for?

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2012 examined a group of nearly 18,000 patients suffering from back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, or shoulder pain.

Of the different control groups they set up, the one that received acupuncture reported greater relief and less pain than the other control groups. Based on this testing, they concluded that acupuncture is more effective than a placebo and is useful for treating chronic pain.

Other studies have been done to suggest acupuncture can be effective for treating a range of other health issues, including certain eye conditions, headaches, fibromyalgia, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more.


Can acupuncture help you?

If you’re wondering whether acupuncture can help with any health conditions you’re experiencing, contact Annex Naturopathic today. You’ll get a chance to speak with one of our naturopathic doctors who will answer your questions and help you better understand how acupuncture or other naturopathic modalities can help you live a healthier, more vibrant life.

Contact Annex Naturopathic at (647) 624-5800, or come visit us at the clinic at 572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1