Do you have trouble sleeping through the night? Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?
Oh, that elusive sleep. That time to relax and regenerate. To heal and repair.
Sleep isn’t just important for your mind and body to have energy and be alert. Lack of sleep can contribute to serious health issues which you don’t want.
The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing.
Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re only beginning to understand all the ways it helps us and all 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 many health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
And let’s not forget the unpleasant effects of a slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation.
Oh, yes, and what about 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? (Gasp!)
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.
So exactly how much sleep do adults need?
It’s less than growing children 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!
Here are some great Tips for Better Sleep:
● Establish 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. Yes, 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.
● Be sure you’re asleep between the hours of 10 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Please refer to my blog post, When Your Lights Go Out. This is the time when your body repairs itself.
● Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. Eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber). Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavored snack). Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat.
● 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.
● Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12 p.m. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine. It’s the “added” sugar we’re minimizing. 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 be by the time evening rolls around.
● 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 a (hard cover, not “e”) book or having a bath.
So how many of these tips can you start implementing today? Please comment below and share some of your night time routines for winding down.