Hi friend! I hope you’ve been having a magical week. Today I want to talk about the importance of a good night’s sleep, which for some may seem like an impossible dream. In terms of maintaining a healthy weight, sleep is of utmost importance. It’s during the night time that your body gets to work detoxing, rebuilding, and repairing all your cells and tissues. So if you’re selling yourself short on sleep then you’re not reaping the full rewards from your workouts or healthy eating habits. Below I’ll give you some reasons why sleep is so important and then a few tips to help you fall and stay asleep so you wake up feeling rested and refreshed every day.
When you don’t get a full night’s sleep it wreaks havoc on your hormones. Some of the immediate effects of sleep-deprivation (one night to one week!) include:
1. Lowered insulin sensitivity:
This issue can lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes that cause fatigue, moodiness, anxiety, and insatiable food cravings. Over the long term decreased insulin sensitivity can set the stage for the development of insulin resistance or diabetes.
2. Altered gene activity:
When your genes begin to express differently it changes your response to:
3. Higher levels of anxiety:
Lack of sleep amplifies the brains anticipatory reactions, which leaves you feeling edgy and anxious.
4. Decrease in neurotransmitters:
Neurotransmitters are so important for managing your mood and brain function and a decrease in these allies can lead to depression, mood disorders, and other issues.
5. Impaired cognition and memory:
With Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases on the rise, you don’t want to be doing anything to increase your risk factor for these debilitating diseases.
6. Elevated blood pressure:
Your BP drops at night, so without adequate sleep you never get that therapeutic drop, which can put you at risk for heart disease!
7. Triggers a stress response:
Lack of sleep can cause an unnecessary release of cortisol and noradrenaline, two stress hormones that can have damaging affects on your health due to decreased insulin sensitivity and abdominal weight gain.
8: Hormone Imbalances
Not getting enough shut eye causes imbalances in the hormones that signal fullness (leptin) or hunger (ghrelin). When these hormones are out of whack you are likely to overeat due to your body’s inability to regulate hunger signals. Over the long term this leads to chronic overeating and potentially weight gain.
Alrighty, now that I’ve suitably scared you about the effects of sleep deprivation, what can you do about it?
1. Turn off your electronics:
Try turning off all electrons an hour before bed and keep them out of your bedroom. Electronic use is quite stimulating and so it can take quite some time to physically wind down after shutting them off for the day.
2. Eliminate blue light after sunset from laptops and cell phones:
Blue light sends signals to your brain that it is still daytime, which can mess with your production of melatonin, the hormone you need to fall asleep.
Try using F.lux for your computer and Neyetlight for your cell phone. Apple has also installed Night Shift on its iPhones which you can activate at sunset and sunrise. These programs eliminate blue light after sunset, which can help regulate your circadian rhythm.
3. Drink herbal teas:
Teas such as chamomile, passionflower, or valerian root are natural sedatives that can decrease the neuronal firing in the brain, making it easier for you to turn off your thoughts and fall asleep.
4. Try some deep breathing techniques:
Breathe in for the count of 4 and then try to make your exhale roughly twice as long as your inhale. This process soothes the vagus nerve and helps you relax and fall asleep.
5. Take magnesium:
This mineral helps relax your muscles and nervous system. I like Natural Calm and AOR’s Magnesium Malate, though I find Natural Calm better for helping relax before bed.
6. Have an Epsom salt bath with lavender essential oils:
Both the magnesium in the Epsom salts and the lavender oil help calm the body and mind to promote sleep.
7. Lay on a Spoonk mat for 30-45 minutes:
This time gives you a space to unwind from the day and the acupressure points on the mat help relax your body. I am absolutely obsessed with my mat and use it regularly! You can pick one up here.
8. Invest in some herbal tinctures:
If your hormones are really out of balance, it may be beneficial to invest in some herbal tinctures to help train your body to fall sleep. Contact me for specific remedies for your situation.
Well those are my tips and tricks to get a really good night’s sleep. If you’re looking for another way to boost your immunity and promote a healthy weight then make sure you download my FREE Fantastic Fermentables E-Book by clicking here. It’s packed with simple and delicious paleo & vegan fermentation recipes to help take your health to the next level. Have a wonderfully whimsical weekend!