Sleep more for better health

Mar 2, 2018

Diet, exercise, or sleep?

Sleep! Anyone who has ever set their alarm clock for extra early in an effort to go to the gym before work, only to press snooze a million times, understands perfectly how being overtired 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 overtired and can’t fall asleep, so can adults. Let’s set you up for success!

Sleep hygiene tips:

  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 “nightcap” 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, especially if you wake between the hours of 1 and 3 AM. The protein will help keep your blood sugar stable throughout the night to help keep you asleep. Low blood sugar equals high cortisol, which is your body’s “wake” hormone.
  4. Create a bedtime routine. When repeated each night before bed, brushing your teeth, washing your face, reading a few pages of a good book are all cues to tell your brain its time to go to sleep.
  5. Keep the bedroom cool. Most 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 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. Ask me for more information about essential oils!