Have you said “bye bye” to sleeping through the night?
Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?
The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing….
Sleep is this daily thing that we’ve been doing since the beginning of time, yet we’re just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of 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 so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, belly fat/muffin top/spare tire, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, and memory and decision-making skills – have you ever tried to focus and make a decision when you are tired? Painful….
Lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Yikes!)
Are you asking yourself yet, what aspect of health does sleep not affect???
So how much sleep do adults really need? It’s less than growing kids, but you may be surprised that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night. (I know, I know…I literally snorted when I read this as I was preparing the post….that’s how much sleep I get over 2 nights! For real!)
With demands of people’s time at a premium, it’s easy to trim your sleep by an hour or two but try not to skimp.
Tips for better sleep
The biggest tip is definitely try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. This means turning your lights off 8 hours before your alarm goes off. Seven. Days. A. Week. Yes, I know it is hard. But Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all your Snaps will still be there in the morning. I know 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 in the biggest ways.
Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fibre). Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack). Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat. Include EFAs in your diet.
During the day get some sunshine and exercise. Even in cold, wintery climates. 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 12pm. ACK….don’t lose me now! Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimizing. Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte, regular coffee and tea. Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).
Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 30 minutes 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 an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath. Find something that brings your pleasure and feelings of calmness.
(For those of you who don’t know me well…My baby is 16 months old and doesn’t sleep through the night yet. I live on stress hormone! I get how hard it can be to carve out time to ‘just sleep’. But it’s important for so, so many reasons. And making time for sleep when you’re dead isn’t the same as making time to sleep when you’re alive. Start making sleep and your total well being a focused part of your day.)
Recipe: Caffeine-Free Chai Latte
1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
2 cups of boiling water
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
2 dates (optional)
Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.
Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.
Blend until creamy.
Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavour combination you like the best. Cashew butter anyone?