One thing we all share is the occasional sleepless night. It seems that too often the stresses of our careers, Covid, financial fears and relationship woes can cause our minds to race, hearts to beat fast, and our bodies to simply go out of whack. Worse, at night, things just seem more intense and dire. It’s no wonder that 1 of 3 people don't get a good night of sleep, according to the CDC (Center of Disease Control). Even moreso, women tend to have more difficulty sleeping compared to men, with women suffering from chronic insomnia almost 40% more than men! As a result, so many of us are suffering the consequences that lack of sleep causes.
If you’re wondering if skipping sleep in lieu of late night computer time, partying or just plain procrastinating to go to bed can cause havoc on your body, I hate to break the bad news. It does! It completely affects your health and overall wellness, even longevity. Let’s look at some of the critical activities that happen during your sleep state:
This gives your organs the chance to rest and recover, as well as repair. this is when muscles growth and protein synthesis also primarily occurs.
This is when hormones are released that help you regulate your appetite control. Ever felt hungrier when you’re sleep deprived? It’s because your sleep affects your leptin and ghrelin hormones, which signal that you’re actually full! Without it, you just don’t realize it and can easily overeat. In addition to that, these hormones help your stress regulation, your metabolism, and more. Without the sleep your hormones go unregulated, and they go out of balance and create irregular
When you’re sleeping, this is when your memory actually consolidates, comes together, allowing for the formation of these new memories, and their storage. So, if you’re trying to learn something new, or really process and log the new learning and the new memories, you need your sleep.
So, these are the issues that happen during sleep, but what can happen with sleep and your overall health?
STRENGTHENED IMMUNE SYSTEM:
Your sleep will boost your immune system, which is especially critical at this time with the new Covid variants on the rise, as well as the flu season nearing.
CREATIVITY & FOCUS:
It’s hard to be thinking clearly and creatively when you’re tired. You just don’t think as sharply, and those great ideas that you need for your job or just to solve your current dilemmas are just further out of reach. So a good night sleep - consistently - will help you be back on top and thinking like a pro.
You’ll have less anxiety, less irritability and less mental exhaustion when you’re rested. You’ll have a better outlook and perspective, not to mention feel a bit more ‘randy!’ Yes, your libido will increase with rest.
Increased energy makes you want to do more things that are good for you. Exercise, cooking at home, carving out more self-care, and just having more energy to engage and take care of your overall self.
So, how can we increase our sleep? What do we need to do? Here are some tips:
SET THE TIME:
Set a time at night to go to bed - consistently. Stick to it for at least a week, and see if you notice any difference in how you feel.
STOP THE LIGHT:
Both blue light and lamp light at nighttime will affect you. First, blue light from the computer, your phone, your smart “everythings” are stimulating to the brain. This increases your being ‘wired’ without your even realizing it. Not to mention you’re actively engaging your brain power thinking, processing, and keeping up tabs with everyone on Social media. That just adds to a heightened if not even an agitated state of being, which is not conducive to reparative and restorative sleep. Turn them off at least an hour before bed. Also, to set your circadian rythsyms, all lights stimulate. So, turn off bright lights to start to get more natural in sync with what’s actually night time. Keep it dim.
Turn on the zen. Instead of looking at the phone or TV, create your own nightly wind-down ritual that will be something you can do nightly. I do a guided meditation from an app (I like Insight Timer but there are plenty) that helps me unwind and relax. Or sometimes I listen to meditative, peaceful music. Other times, I do rounds of deep breathing and just relax in bed. Sometimes I might journal about something positive that I want to manifest in my life.
EAT RESTFUL FOODS & DRINK RELAXING TEAS:
Eat some foods and drink some tea that aids in relaxation. A soothing, healthy warm tea can help take the edge off – such as chamomile or a ’sleepy’ tea with natural herbs. there are actually foods that are good to eat to help you wind down. Some foods that will help in your relaxation are cherries, almonds, and chamomile.
Magnesium is a terrific supplement to take before bed. It will relax the body and aid it (mildly), unlike prescription pills that can wreak havoc on your mental / brain and cognitive health down the road. (I used to take Benadryl, unfortunately, until it became common knowledge that it can cause Alzhymers Disease). Also, melatonin is a natural supplement that can trigger your sleep and release the nighttime hormones, but make sure that you look into dosage and times that you take it. It can be a bit of a process to discover what might work for you, so talk to your doctor or a specialist at the health food / supplement store. Speaking of, some love their CBD products, which could be something you might want to try as well. NOTE: All CBD products are not the same, so investigate the brand you’re purchasing.
Want some FOODS to help your sleep? See our latest article on FOODS TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP in our section: HEALTH TIPS!