Are you sleep deprived?
Oh you’ll definitely know if you are!
Maintaining adequate amounts of quality sleep is essential to optimal health and well-being. Are you feeling run-down, struggling to focus, or feeling irritable for no reason? You may want to look into your sleep patterns.
In our fast-paced world, many people forgo sleep and overextend themselves just to play catch-up! I want to talk to you for a few minutes about why I feel sleep is the number one most important habit you will create in your life! Choose to let everything else in your life fall to the wayside before you allow your sleep to go! Adults need to be getting 7-9 hrs. of sleep a night and it needs to be deep restful sleep. Kids are growing and need 9-10 hours.
Are you having dreams? If so, that is a good sign you’re in your REM cycle. So why aren’t you getting sleep? It could be a number of reasons…you have a child who keeps you up, you work a night shift, you have chronic pain, you just aren’t sleepy (your cortisol levels may be too high in this latter case). Whatever your reason, get to the root of the problem and fix it. I’ll explain how to do this later on. But for now, let’s discuss why you need good sleep every single night.
A good nights sleep will allow you to be productive and focused. This is especially important if you want to maximize your efforts in little time. For example, if I’m a stay at home mom, the energy I will gain from a good nights sleep, allows me to get all my house work done, tend to kids’ needs, cook meals and run errands without getting sleepy during the day and keeping a positive attitude for the most part. If I work as a CEO of a big company, a good night’s sleep will allow me to make thoughtful decisions that will drive business forward and up. It will allow me to generate the creativity I need to produce ideas that yield maximum gains. Sleep will allow me a clear mind, helping me focus on the positive and seeing the good in others around me. In turn, I can project this onto my co-workers and watch them blossom and help the company through my positivity. Do you see how a cycle of all good things flows through proper sleep? The brain just functions so much better when put to rest for 7-9 hrs a night.
What happens when I sleep?
Critical activities occur during sleep. Internal organs rest and recover. Tissue repair and muscle growth all occur during sleep. Hormones that help regulate appetite control, stress and growth are released. Memory consolidation occurs, allowing for the formation and storage of new memories, which is essential for learning new information.
Let’s talk more benefits of a good nights sleep:
*Increased energy to make beneficial lifestyle choices (cooking, exercise, self-care)
* Strengthened immune system (The people getting sick all the time are the ones lacking sleep)
*Heightened alertness, focus and creativity
*Improved mood by reducing anxiety, irritability and mental exhaustion
*Increased Libido (Sex drive)
But how does sleep deprivation really affect you?
Let’s dig deeper…
*Weight gain. Individuals who don’t get adequate sleep are more likely to gain weight over time. I have found this to be true. I have literally asked all the overweight people in my family if they sleep well at night and the answer is always NO. They can’t breathe well, therefore they tend to snore or need a breathing mask. So in this case, I recommend taking some serious steps to lose the weight so your sleep can improve.
*Increased risk of chronic disease such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and cancer have all been associated with lack of sleep. This happens because the body is more susceptible to stress without a good nights sleep. The immune system does not function optimally, and inflammatory proteins and blood sugar levels increase in response to lower levels of insulin being released throughout the night.
*Increased risk of accidents and injuries: A tired state of mind just leads to more accidents. You’re more prone to mishaps like stubbing your toe, cutting yourself in the kitchen, falling, or getting into a car accident.
*Decline in cognitive function which will definitely affect our mood. For the sake of others who have to live with you, please get your sleep!
*Increased anxiety: There’s already so much to worry about in this world. Why elevate anxiety with lack of sleep? Increased feelings of irritability, sadness and anger are common amongst non sleepers. So again..for the sake of yourself and others who are around you, please get sleep!
Creating the perfect sleep environment
Okay, now that we know the good and bad about sleep and deprivation, let’s get your environment ready for the occasion shall we?
Getting a good nights sleep depends on creating a peaceful bedroom. You can paint your walls a calming color, use an aromatherapy diffuser or invest in a new mattress (I just purchased the “Purple” mattress…google it). There are also several low cost and NO cost ways to create the environment.. Consider:
*Cleaning out the clutter: Is your mind becoming cluttered from just looking at your space? You often feel the energy of the clutter in the form of stress in your mind. Cleaning out the clutter and making your bed can really help!
* Remove all electronics from your room! This is a tough one for people. Getting rid of the T.V, computer, laptops, video games, tablets, e-readers and cell phones can be HUGE for getting the sleep you need. These produce “Blue Light” that can affect your body’s production of melatonin not to mention they emit EMF’S (electromagnetic frequency waves) that can cause you harm in so many other ways (I’ll get to EMF’s in another post). If you must sleep with a cell phone close by, turn it to airplane mode. This way you won’t be disturbed but you’ll still hear your alarm. And those EMF’s won’t be going through on airplane mode!
*Invest in some blackout curtains or hang a blanket over the window.
*Keep a journal by your bed to write down all your thoughts and to-do’s so they aren’t on your mind.
*Drink chamomile or sleepy time tea about 2 hours before bed. Go to the bathroom before bed.
*Read a book instead of watch t.v within an hour of going to sleep.
*Meditate yourself to sleep (I like to lay in my bed and meditate or pray as I’m in the horizontal position. I find it puts me right to sleep)
*Put a fan in your room for white noise to minimize distracting sounds outside. Earplugs or noise cancelling headphones will also do the trick.
*Create a bedtime routine with these ideas.
*Track your sleep habits the next day.
If you are a “Night Person” meaning you go to sleep after 10pm and wake up early, you’re living off your battery reserves. It’s time to sync up with nature. This means going to bed when the sun goes to bed and waking up with the sun. For me, this is 9pm-5am. Did you know you have just as many hours in the morning as you do in the night to get stuff done? I used to live in a city where the sun would go to bed at 4pm in the winter time and after 11pm in the summer. If this is the case in those seasons, just create a time when you’re in bed no later than 10pm and up by 6am. Eventually you won’t even need that alarm clock. Your body will automatically feel tired at that time and wake up naturally in the early morning. Your circadian rhythm will be right on track. A great way to help that circadian rhythm is to take an early morning walk and get that sunshine first thing. Do it barefoot if it’s not too cold. This grounding practice will help reset things for you.
As you sync up with nature you’ll be in the right place at the right time EVERYTIME! Doesn’t that sound amazing? Just to know you’re living your true life in balance with nature!
Your diet affects your sleep
I will also put a plug about diet in here because I truly believe that affects everything! One time I heard a story about a person who was having nightmares a lot. This person tracked what they ate and noticed on the night of the nightmares he was eating chicken! When this person eliminated chicken from his diet or interestingly chose organic free range chicken to eat, the nightmares went away. You see, all our food we put into our bodies has a certain energy. When we take that energy in, it could be either good or bad. Consider this when you put any food in your body. Greasy fast foods can really disrupt your sleep because of digestion. Choose whole foods, dark leafy green vegetables and grass-fed, organic animal products as part of your diet and just watch your sleep habits change…and your waistline! Honor your body as a whole and seek to make changes that improve your sleep habits.
*Personally, I don’t condone taking sleeping pills, smoking marijuana or drinking alcohol as a means to put you to sleep. These more likely put you in a coma state instead of an REM sleep. If you’re using supplements like these to put you to sleep, I’d suggest backing off little by little until you can come off. As you get your body to a healthy state with diet and exercise, the need for medical drugs and illegal drugs and alcohol for sleep will completely diminish. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel like you don’t “NEED” anything to put you to sleep. You don’t “NEED” to be addicted to anything. It’s such a freeing feeling. Our bodies were created in such a way that they have all the building blocks they need to function without stimulants. This brings me to coffee intake. Can you live without coffee? Or are you a slave to the cup each morning to keep you going and throughout the day? Wouldn’t you love to not be a slave to anything? I would kick the addiction. It just makes sense in my mind to free yourself of anything you feel you “HAVE TO HAVE”. Limit your intake to 2 small cups a day (If you must have any at all) and don’t drink past 4pm.
A word of advice if you’re in a challenging situation: Getting to the root of the problem!
If a child keeps waking up in the night, could you possibly allow them to put themself back to sleep instead of tending to their every need? I always found it best to get my babies on the same sleeping schedule as me just as soon as possible. This was usually around 3-4 months of age. This meant letting them “Cry it out” a few nights until they figured out the sleep pattern in our home. Was is hard? YES! But for my own sanity as a mother and person in general, this was absolutely necessary. I am not a fan on co-sleeping with a child at all. But everyone has to figure out what works best for them, their families and sleeping conditions. But I would highly recommend getting a really noisy fan in everyone’s bedroom. Don’t let paranoia run your life. If you just have to be up with your child, please take naps when your child does. Don’t be tempted to catch up or check your phone.
Do you work a night shift? If so, is it possible to ask for a different shift or change careers? If not, then I sure hope you’re getting your 7-9 hrs of sleep during the day..blackout curtains and a fan are key.
Are you in chronic pain? It’s time to find out the root of that pain. Again…start by cleaning up your diet! Green juice every morning for you. Fish oil. Anti-inflammatory diets (Dr. Sears has a good one for that) I bet within a month of solid clean eating consistency, you’ll see some relief. But you gotta do the work! And it won’t be easy, but boy will it be worth it. And think of all the money you’ll save from not buying drugs for pain. (Although you may need the pain meds as you’re cleaning up your diet).
The missing link to your healthy lifestyle may just be a good night’s sleep. Taking steps toward improving your sleep is essential for optimal health! I hope this article was helpful in helping you recognize that.
-Health Coach Heather