Our sleep patterns and routines can impact our daily lives much more than just being a little tired throughout the day. If you are having trouble reaching your fitness goals, it might not be your diet or workout plan. You may not be getting enough sleep. Below, you’ll find our 10 Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep isn’t just about getting some rest. When we are sleep deprived, our cortisol levels rise. This rise in cortisol can mimic the stresses of having fluctuating blood sugar levels, which may result in weight gain, high blood pressure, depression, decreased immune function, insulin resistance, and even heart attacks.
Our body’s also increase the production of the hormone ghrelin, when we are sleep deprived. If you don’t know, ghrelin is also known as the “hunger hormone”. Produced by the stomach, this hormone also acts on the pleasure center of the brain. Ever go back for that second and third serving of pasta, even after you are stuffed? That just might be ghrelin kicking in.
It goes without saying that when we are tired we are more likely to make poor decisions, have feelings of doubt and anxiety, and generally feel as though we are in a fog. Use these 10 tips below to make sure you are optimizing your efforts for a good night’s sleep.
10 Tips For A Better Night’s Sleep
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each and every day to experience a regular sleep rhythm. Your body’s Circadian Rhythm (a 24 hour clock that runs in the background of your mind) governs when certain hormones are released throughout the day. Cortisol is released higher in the morning to help you get started moving for the day. If we have high cortisol levels at night, it significantly decreases our chances of falling into deep levels of sleep.
- Make your bedroom a “Media Free Zone”. In the evening, your body is naturally trying to wind down from the day. Electronics, tablets, smartphones, and other gadgets interrupt this by stimulating our brains.
- Make your bedroom more like a spa retreat, and less like a family room or den. Use peaceful, restful colors in your bedroom. Eliminate clutter and distraction. Get your bedroom as clean and refreshing as a 5 star hotel room. You can even try removing any family photos from your bedroom to create a spa-like environment.
- Create a bedroom environment that is cool, dark, and quiet. Keep your bedroom temperature between 60 and 67 degrees. Use eye masks, blackout curtains, and ear plugs if you need to. If you live in a busy, noisy area, you may even try using a white noise machine to block out any noises that are keeping your brain too active. A simple fan can sometimes do the trick for all of these.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol after 2 pm. Obviously, I don’t need to tell you that caffeine can interrupt the quality of your sleep. But did you know that it can stay in your system for hours after you consume it? Also, you may think that drinking alcohol at night is helping you fall to sleep. And it might…but it’s effects can disrupt your circadian rhythm well into the late hours of the night.
- Get about 20 minutes of sunlight each and every day. The sun once determined when we got up and when we went to sleep. Our circadian rhythm follows the sun. As it gets brighter in the day, our bodies begin releasing certain hormones. When there is less sunlight, our bodies decrease certain hormones, while decreasing others. Sunlight helps to even all of this out. Plus, the fresh air is good for you too.
- Eat your last meal around 2 hours prior to bed. This will not only impact the quality of your sleep, but also affect your body’s detoxification process. Your body only has so many resources it can devote to different tasks in your system. If you eat a huge meal right before you go to sleep, you are forcing your body to work on digesting it instead of detoxifying and rejuvenating.
- Empty your mind with some journaling. Taking just a few minutes of your day to jot down your thoughts, worries, and to-do’s is a great way to “take our the trash” so to speak. This releases tension and stress from your mind, and allows you to relax.
- Take a hot bath. Raising your body temperature before you go to bed helps induce sleep. Adding some Epsom salts to your bath water can also release tension from your muscles. Rich in magnesium, bath salts help promote relaxation in people who have a magnesium deficiency.
- Warm up your bed with a heating pad or hot water bottle. This helps raise your body temperature and create a comforting environment to relax in. This is a great tip for falling asleep when you have an upset stomach or menstrual cramps.
Try to incorporate one or two of these tips today, and see what a difference it makes in your quality of sleep.
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