Dr. Wendy Leigh White's Blog

Sleep More For Better Health

Which is most important, diet, exercise or sleep?

 Sleep! Anyone who has ever set their alarm clock for extra early in effort to go to the gym before work, only to press snooze a million times, understands perfectly how being over tired can sabotage health goals. Have you ever noticed how hungry you are on days when you didn’t get enough sleep? That’s because ghrelin and leptin, the hormones in charge of hunger and satiety, are affected by lack of sleep. Research shows less sleep equates to higher levels of ghrelin (hunger) and lower levels of leptin (satiety).[1] Getting enough sleep is the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Without enough ZZZZs, a healthy diet and exercise can seem too difficult to accomplish because you are physiologically set up for failure. In fact, the Institute of Medicine found, “Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality and reduced quality of life and productivity”.[2]

So how does one get enough sleep in this workaholic, stressed out world we live in?

Make it your priority. Even going to bed a half hour earlier can make a world of difference. Just like babies that get over tired and can’t fall asleep, so can adults. You could say, the more you sleep, the better you will sleep. To set you up for success here are some sleep hygiene tips.

Tips for success:

  1. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day. Your body was designed for a sleep/wake routine a.k.a your circadian rhythm.
  2. No alcohol, caffeine, nicotine or electronics at least 30 minutes before bed. These are ALL stimulants. Even alcohol eventually. You might get sleepy after a “night cap” but you are more likely to wake in the middle of the night once your body has finished metabolizing the alcohol and your blood sugar drops.
  3. Have a small snack of protein before bed. The protein will help keep blood sugar stable throughout the night to help keep you asleep. Low blood sugar equals high cortisol, which is you body’s “wake” hormone.
  4. Create a bedtime routine. Brushing your teeth, washing your face, reading a few pages of a book are all cues to tell your brain its time to go to sleep when they are repeated each night before bed.
  5. Keep the bedroom cool. People sleep better when the room is kept between 62 and 70 degrees.
  6. Use essential oils like lavender, bergamot, and chamomile. Dilute in a “carrier oil” like fractionated coconut or sweet almond oil and rub on your temples, apply to the bottom of your feet or undiluted, diffuse in the air of your bedroom. These herbs have a calming effect on your nervous system.

 

 

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20669438