Is your sleep so messed up that you’ve essential thrown up your hands and said “I give up!”? Do you constantly feel exhausted and overwhelmed? Do you struggle to make it through your afternoons?
When something we are passionate about doesn’t go our way, it’s very easy to just give up in frustration. With sleep, this frustration makes you want to cry (or is that just me?)! And, really, you can’t give up on sleep because you NEED sleep for whole-body health.
The science and understanding of sleep is one of the fastest growing fields. We all know that sleep is essential to maintain a healthy body and mind but so many of us toss and turn way too many nights in a row and know that sleep can be an enigma.
Missing a few hours of sleep one night likely won’t cause you too many adverse health effects. However, if you consistently have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep and you aren’t achieving a good rest, there are many health problems that could pop up related to this problem.
A lack of sleep affects almost all areas of your body, including your mind. People with poor sleep patterns generally are at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Not getting enough sleep also leads to a slower metabolism, weight gain, hormonal imbalances and internal inflammation. And, lack of sleep will definitely affect your concentration, memory, motor skills and mood.
Fitness and health advocates – if you are not getting enough sleep, all that time spend exercising to improve your overall health can actually be for nothing. Lack of sleep has been shown to negate the health effects of a regular exercise.
Yes, sleep is clearly very important! Sleep is the one daily habit that you should not ignore or steal from.
Sleep serves 3 main purposes:
- Restoration, repair, growth and detoxification of our physical brain and our minds.
- Improvement of our ability to learn and remember things, called ‘synaptic plasticity’.
- Conservation of energy so that we have time to recover and do not have to spend 24 hours a day being active (can you imagine?!?).
Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night and it’s a good idea to figure out how much you need to feel your best. You can figure this out once you have developed the ability to sleep through the night, every night.
Do not skimp on your sleep – do not steal hours from your sleep time to get work done, socialize or watch TV. If you struggle with sleep most nights, this is a very important tip to remember!
If sleep has become an elusive pink unicorn, consider trying out some of these tips to get a better sleep each night:
- Set up a consistent sleep schedule. Set your alarm for the same time each morning, turn off all lights and go to bed 8 hours before that alarm goes off. Do this for 7 days a week for 3 weeks and see if this helps set up a healthy sleep habit.
- Keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the day by eating balanced meals and snacks. Include healthy fats and/or protein with every meal or snack and avoid all processed, simple carbohydrates. Make sure you’re getting adequate fiber to slow down digestion and maintain a balanced blood glucose level.
- Get out in the sun for at least 30 minutes every day. Sunshine helps to regulate your circadian rhythm to help tell your body it’s time to sleep when it’s dark outside. If you’re stuck in an office building or you work shift work, buy yourself a Lightbook and use it shortly after you wake up each day.
- Cut back on your caffeine and sugar intake, or avoid both altogether. If you must have coffee, stop all caffeine and sugar intake by 12pm. If you feel tired in the afternoon, drink some water, eat some whole fruits and vegetables, or try a handful of nuts. Caffeine can take a long time to metabolize so even a little bit after lunch can keep you awake all night long.
- Set out a bedtime routine. Start getting ready for bed at least 1 hour before light’s out. Turn off all electronics and settle in with a good book (not an e-book) or take a warm bath.
- If you’re hungry before bed, eat some whole grains, like oatmeal, or fruit because carbohydrates are easier to digest than both fats and protein (and won’t likely keep you awake all night).
Try adding foods that stimulate the production of melatonin to your daily diet, and practice stress management activities every day. When your mind is wound up, you will have trouble sleeping, so do something to get whatever is bothering you off your mind before going to bed.
If you’re still consistently struggling with sleep after setting up good bedtime habits, avoiding caffeine after lunch and doing everything else I’ve listed above, you could have a hormonal imbalance that needs further attention. I specialize in helping busy professional women who struggle with stress, sleep and stubborn fat figure out what’s going on inside their bodies so that they can live their best life – contact me today for your free 1 hour consultation.