When did we start thinking that it’s uncool or lazy to rest and get a full nights sleep? I think the term “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” frankly, sucks.
Whenever I am under a large amount of stress or partying hard on vacation I get sick. And I usually stay sick because of one reason, I don’t have time to rest.
I can drink all the green tea with lemon, take all the Chinese herbs and vitamin C but if I don’t get enough rest my body refuses to get better. And why is that? Because getting good sleep is one of the MOST important things for your health.
Why getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night matters. You can exercise everyday and eat clean until you are blue in the face but if you aren’t getting enough good sleep you’re health is never going to be optimal.
Our circadian rhythm plays an essential role to our health. These rhythms, driven by our internal body clock, are the way our body reacts to light and dark (or day and night). They are on a 24 hour cycle and are completely thrown off when out of synch with environmental cues.
Simply put when you don’t have a healthy sleep routine it throws your circadian rhythm off and can impair your health and well-being.
So, how can it impair your health?
There are many things that are affected by having an irregular circadian rhythm…
- Hormone release – Disrupting hormones like insulin, cortisol, leptin and ghrelin makes it harder to sleep at night, throws off your appetite making it harder to tell when you are full, messes with your blood sugar, and inhibits the ability to regenerate new cell tissue.
- Body temperature
- Energy level
- Your immune system – Lack of time to repair and rebuild cell tissues inhibits your body’s ability to heal.
- The speed in which you age – If your cell tissues are not regenerating than you are aging at a faster rate.
- Metabolism – Not getting consistant good sleep has been linked to weight gain and not being able to lose weight.
Getting on a normal sleep routine can be challenging but ultimately can be pretty easy to maintain. It all boils down to habits. Do you have good ones or bad ones when it comes to bedtime?
10 tips to getting a good nights sleep:
- Don’t eat 2-3 hours before bedtime. Your body needs to be resting not digesting when it hits the bed.
- Remove all electronics from the bedroom. Yes that means the T..V and yes that especially means your joined at the hip cell phone.
- Take a warm epsom salt bath before going to bed. This will put your body in a deep state of relaxation primed for a good nights sleep.
- Meditate. Meditation will slow your mind down and get you breathing deeper, both essential to getting to sleep faster.
- Avoid caffeine after noon. It takes a very long time to rid the body of caffeine. Around lunchtime start thinking of ways to gradually start winding the body back down instead of amping it back up again.
- Exercise regularly. Having a daily physical activity of at least 30 minutes can help balance your circadian rhythm getting your body on a better sleep routine.
- Have the bedroom at the perfect temperature. Being too hot or too cold has been linked to poor sleep regulation.
- Avoid refined sugar and carbs at dinner time. These can spike blood sugar putting your hormones into overdrive making it harder for you to fall asleep and harder for your cell tissues to rest and regenerate while sleeping.
- Dim the lights in the evening. Bright lights tell the body it’s daytime and to stay awake. By turning down the lights as the sun sets your body starts to make more melatonin which will make you sleepy.
- Get on a sleep schedule, even on weekends. Consistency helps the body to know when to automatically shut down every night. If you are going to bed and waking up at different times everyday the body gets confused and it can be harder to fall asleep at your desired time.
What can you do to get better sleep? What are you doing already that works? If you have a fool proof plan I would love to hear it in the comments section below.
Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.