Do you cherish those late night hours when the house is quiet?
Learn how skimping on your sleep may not be worth the tradeoff of fatigue and weight gain.
The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing!
Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet most of us underestimate its importance in maintaining a healthy mind and body.
Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind. People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.
Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program?
Lack of sleep has been shown to contribute to obesity in the following ways: Read more here.
- Lowered glucose tolerance (GT) (how well your body processes and utilizes sugar and carbs)
- Increased evening and nocturnal cortisol levels (stress hormone)
- Lowered leptin (satiety or fullness hormone)
- Increased ghrelin (hunger hormone)
- Insufficient thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)
- Increased cravings for processed and sugary foods
My Goodness!!! What aspect of health does sleep not affect???
Here are the three main purposes of sleep:
- To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
- To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity.”
- To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.
Do you know how much sleep adults need? It’s less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night. For real!
For me, I really need closer to 9 hours of sleep to feel fully rested and alert for the day.
Try not to skimp!
(Don’t worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)
Tips for better sleep
- The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it. This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off. Seven. Days. A. Week. I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.
- Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber). Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack). Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat.
- To avoid having to wake up to go to the bathroom, eat a small amount of protein before bed to help stabilize your blood sugar and decrease the need for nighttime urination.
- During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it’s daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
- Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12 pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimizing. Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte. Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to come bed time. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).
- Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a nice warm bath.
So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?
Recipe (Caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”): Caffeine-Free Chai Latte Serves 1-2
1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
2 cups of boiling water
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
2 dates (optional)
Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.
Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.
Blend until creamy.
Serve and Enjoy! Tip: You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavor combination you like the best.
Until next time…
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