Having trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep, or feeling rested in the morning? Are you feeling exhausted or using sugar or caffeine to get through your day?
This is a common problem. In fact, it’s one that more than half of Canadians suffer with.
I get it, I’m naturally one of those “night owls” too. But do not fear, I have some great tips that will get you slumbering soundly in no time.
What Happens When We Sleep
We sleep daily and 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, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.
Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? Oh no, what aspect of health does sleep not affect?
Knowing this, it’s easy to see the 3 main purposes of sleep:
- To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
- To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
- To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.
Do you know how much sleep adults need? It’s less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night. For real!
So it’s important not to skimp. Read on for the simple steps to sleeping well.
Tips For a Better Sleep
- Get yourself on a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it. This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off. Seven. Days. A. Week. 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.
- Tip to make this happen – make sure you have regular eating times and that will help create a routine in your body for regular sleep times as well.
- Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber). E.g. choose the whole orange instead of the juice. Make sure you’re getting some healthy fat and protein every time you eat (particularly at breakfast to get you started right).
- Tip to make this happen – At each of your meals, look at your plate and ensure that you are eating a healthy fat, protein or fiber source and minimizing high glycemic carbohydrates. This free meal plan will give you a great start.
- During the day get some sunshine and exercise. 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.
- Tip to make this happen – do some outdoor exercise you love (not what you think you should do) that way, it’s more likely to make it to the top of your priority list.
- Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12 pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimizing. Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte. Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be in the late evening.
- Tip to make this happen – I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you to try here.
- Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour 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 using some stress-reducing techniques such as meditation or having a bath.
- Tip to make this happen – set your phone alarm to go off when you need to unplug, and then listen to it. Put it away. The work will still be there tomorrow!
- Set up your sleep sanctuary by making sure you can sleep in darkness, with a cool temperature and without unwanted frequency disturbances (this means putting your phone on airplane mode and ideally having your router on a timer to shut off at bedtime and on again in the morning).
- Tip to make this happen – buy a regular plug timer at a hardware store and use it to automatically shut your router off at night and on in the morning.
So how many of these tips can you start implementing today? Pick one and get started.