Have you give up on sleeping through the night?
Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?
Stay alert! I have some great tips for you!
The importance of a healthy sleep hygiene
The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing. Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we're just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.
Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind. People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart diseases, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalances, and inflammation. And don't forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.
Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? Or your nutrition regimen? (Gasp!)
Are you now asking yourself, what aspect of health does sleep not affect???
Knowing this it's easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:
To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
To improve our brain's ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
To conserve some energy so we're not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.
Do you know how much sleep adults need? It's less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it's recommended that all adults get 7 - 9 hours a night. For real!
Try not to skimp!
Don’t doze off now! I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)
Tips for better sleep
Consistent schedule: The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you're more likely to achieve it. This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off. Seven. Days. A. Week. I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it. So again, make it a priority: schedule it in your calendar, set an alarm on your phone or fitness tracker to remind you, workout in the afternoon instead of before dawn.
Control your blood sugar: Balance your blood sugar throughout the day by improving the quality of your nutrition. Eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods. Choose high-quality complex carbohydrates verses simple sugars. Make sure you're getting some protein every time you eat.
Get direct sun exposure and exercise daily: During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it's daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
Restrict caffeine and added sugars: Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it's the “added” sugar we're minimizing: maple syrup, honey, agave, etc. Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte! Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to become evening.
Develop a bedtime routine: Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 - 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath. Write down all the things that need to get done at night: washing dishes, preparing lunches, getting your clothes out, showering, personal hygiene, etc. with a timeline.
Have a bedtime snack: Yes, you heard right! If you have an early dinner, which would be more than 3 hours before bedtime, and you consistently wake up between 2 and 4 am, then you might be dealing with some hormonal imbalances that results in nighttime hypoglycemia. Eating a small amount of complex carbohydrates with some fats, for example ½ banana with 1 Tbsp of nut butter, should help with intermittent sleep.
So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?