Tips for Better Sleep
Most of us can agree that sleep is important, but do we know why? When we don’t get much, we feel lousy. When we get 7-8 hours, we feel great.
When I work with coaching clients, sleep is one of the first things we talk about. High quality sleep strengthens the immune system, balances hormones, boosts metabolism, increases physical energy, and improves brain function. It's during sleep, around 11pm to about 2 am, the body is repairing and detoxing and when this processes is disrupted, these crucial things are not happening.
Studies have shown that just one night of sleep deprivation can make you as insulin resistant as a type-2 diabetic. This translates directly to aging faster and storing more body fat than you want to. Stretch that out over weeks, months, and years and you can see why lack of sleep can be such a huge problem.
A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that sleep deprivation is directly related to an inability to lose weight. Test subjects were put on the same exercise and diet program, but those who were in the sleep deprivation group (less than 6 hours per night) consistently lost less weight and body fat than the control group who slept for 8+ hours a night.
There are several other studies showing sleep deprivation encouraging cancer, Alzheimer’s, and depression.
Here are a few tips to help improve your sleep TONIGHT:
Get more sunlight during the day. The natural production and secretion of melatonin is powerfully affected by light exposure. Sunlight provides the natural spectrum of light that we need to help coordinate the cycle of melatonin production.
Avoid the screen. This is likely the #1 thing you can do to improve your sleep quality immediately. The artificial “blue” light emitted by electronic screens trigger your body to produce more daytime hormones (like cortisol) and disorient your body’s natural preparation for sleep.
Be cool. When it’s time for your body to rest, there is an automatic drop in your core body temperature to help initiate sleep. If the temperature in your environment stays too high, then it can be a bit of a physiological challenge for your body to get into the ideal state for restful sleep.
Time! This is key! You can get significant benefits by sleeping at the right hours. Humans get the most significant hormonal repair and recovery by sleeping during the hours of 10 pm and 2 am. (happy hormones = good health)
Use high quality magnesium. Magnesium is an important anti-stress mineral. It helps optimize circulation and blood pressure, balance blood sugar, relax tense muscles, reduce pain, and calm the nervous system. Yet, because it has so many functions, it tends to get depleted from our bodies rather fast.
High protein, low carb snack close to bedtime. It’s best to give your body a solid 90 minutes before bed after eating. This is ESPECIALLY true if you’re eating carbs because the blood sugar spike from carbohydrates will cause a sharp drop in blood sugar later… and if you happen to be asleep when this hypoglycemia hits, it will likely wake you up and give you difficulties falling back asleep (same goes for booze).
Meditation / Prayer – clear your mind and calm the inner chatter
Deep breathing – Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 Relaxing Breath helps calm the nervous system and can be used any time of day for mild anxiety or stress.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Natural sleep aids:
Chamomile and Valerian are wonderful teas that can help prepare the body for sleep.
Melatonin has become a very popular supplement with all of our society’s sleeping issues. Many experts agree that melatonin supplementation can be very effective for SOME people. But it can potentially down-regulate the ability of your body to produce its own melatonin. This is an actual hormone supplement, so unless you want to chance creating a dependency on this, I’d say avoid it and try other things first.
Try one tip at a time for a week before adding in another tip to see how your body responds.
Here’s to a good night’s sleep!