5 Top Strategies for Better Sleep
When I was in my twenties and thirties I would make silly remarks like, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” I was young, single, and enjoying the nightlife. Turns out I was also digging my grave sooner than I would like. By the time I hit my forties, I was overweight, my hormones were out of whack, I had no energy and now I suffer from adrenal fatigue. Getting quality sleep is crucial for so many systems in our bodies. According to the National Science Foundation, over 70 million people suffer from insomnia. Not getting adequate sleep is responsible for infection, insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and mood disorders.
It’s time to value our sleep and give it the respect it deserves. Poor sleep impacts our nutrition in ways you may not have thought of too. Staying up too late causes an increase in the hormone ghrelin, which drives our hunger controls. That can lead to poor food choices, hormone imbalance and weight gain.
How much sleep should I get? 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night is recommended. The risk of developing obesity rises 23% with just 6 hours of sleep per night, 50% with 5 hours per night, and 73% with 4 hours per night. Arianna Huffington’s new book, The Sleep Revolution, shares how our cultural dismissal of sleep as time wasted compromises our health and our decision-making and undermines our work lives, our personal lives -- and even our sex lives.
So what can you do to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep to benefit your health?
Here’s my Top 5 Strategies for Better Sleep:
- Limit caffeine, alcohol and snacks before bedtime. Eliminate all caffeine after 3pm and keep it under1-2 cups per day at most. Alcohol is a depressant, but it actually disrupts your sleep quality. Eating within 2-3 hours of bedtime raises your body temperature and metabolic rate, disrupting sleep. Your body needs to repair at night, not digest food that you’ve just eaten.
- Choose natural sleep remedies over highly-addictive sleep aids. Prescription sleep aids actually alter our sleep architecture and can cause a morning hangover. Try Lemon Balm, Valerian root or phosphotidylserine in supplement form. Magnesium citrate is also a great relaxing mineral that promotes quality sleep. I take magnesium before bed every night.
- Set the scene for sleep. Thirty minutes before bed, turn off all electronic devices that emit a blue light, like a TV, tablet, phone, and computer. These devices have what I call the “Vegas-effect” and keep our brains on active mode. Try reading a book, journaling or just chatting with your partner. A warm bath with calming essential oils can help too.
- Alter your daytime dietary composition to sleep better. Consider adding in more protein, omega 3 fatty acids, low glycemic foods, and fresh vegetables to promote balanced blood sugar levels.
- Movement – All it takes is 30 minutes of movement to boost your metabolism in the morning and then set you up for good quality sleep at night. Find something you like to do and add it to your routine. A pleasant walk in the sunshine can do wonders for your circadian rhythms as well.
If all these efforts don’t result in higher quality sleep, you may have a hormone imbalance or health issue that needs addressing. My consultations are always free and you could be greatly damaging your health by ignoring poor sleep issues.
May is actually Better Sleep Month, so I thought I would take some time to not only chat about this great book, but also share some sleep tips from Casper, their mattress is made with latex foam instead of memory foam that allows you to sleep cool, which is one of the most common sleep problems. Because let’s be honest, we could all sleep a little better.