WHY SLEEP IS SO IMPORTANT
Sleeping is crucial for supporting your mind and body. It is vital in chronic disease management, weight loss, emotional eating, and mental health. When you drift off, your body goes into repair mode. With any chronic condition, sufficient sleep is an important part of health. It is extra important for diabetics, and those with blood sugar and weight issues, as sleep, helps to balance the hormones which control appetite.
Lack of sleep has also increased stress levels and insulin resistance. The two key hormones involved in sleep and appetite are leptin and ghrelin.
Leptin is referred to as the “satiety hormone.” Higher levels of leptin typically decrease your food cravings and appetite.
Ghrelin is also known as the “hunger hormone.” Ghrelin controls insulin secretion and stimulates appetite. The higher the ghrelin levels, the more hungry you feel.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body is left with low leptin and high ghrelin. In other words, you may feel hungry all day long, and even when you do eat, you don’t end up feeling full. This troubling combination can make managing healthy blood sugar levels especially difficult.
Several studies have found that control groups who have been exposed to 7-8hrs of sleep vs. 5-6 hrs have lost more fat during the study. In this study, the longer sleeping control group lost 3.1 kg versus 1.3 kg of fat for the deprived control group.
THE IMPACTS OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION
Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on one’s physical, emotional, and mental wellness. In addition to disasters caused by human error, deprivation can cause:
- Heart disease
- Hormone imbalance
- Breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer
- Anxiety and depression
- Stress increase
The average adult requires 7-9 hours of zzzzzs per night for optimum health.
TIPS FOR SLEEPING BETTER
Keep Regular Hours
Try to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day. Getting up at the same time is also important. Try to go to bed only when you are sleepy. Bright light in the morning at a regular time should help you feel sleepy at the same time every night.
Stay Away from Stimulants
This will help you achieve a deep sleep which is most refreshing. If you have any caffeine, take it in the morning.
Avoid all stimulants in the evening, including chocolate, caffeinated sodas, and caffeinated teas. They will delay sleeping and increase arousals during the night.
Only Use the Bed for Sleeping and Sex
Avoid watching TV or using laptop computers in bed. Reading in bed can also be a problem if the material is very stimulating and you read with a bright light. If reading helps you fall asleep, make sure you use a very small wattage bulb for light. A 15-watt bulb should be enough. Any bright light from these activities may inhibit sleep.
Avoid Bright Light around the House before Bed
Using dimmer switches in living rooms and bathrooms before bed can be helpful. These switches can be set to maximum brightness for morning routines.
Don’t Stress If You Feel You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
It will just make matters worse. Trust your body, implement these suggestions, and know you will sleep eventually.
Avoid Exercise Near Bedtime
Don’t exercise at least 3 hours before bed.
Don’t Go to Bed Hungry
Have a light snack and avoid a heavy meal before bed.
Bedtime Routines are Helpful for Good Sleep
Keep routines on your normal schedule. A cup of herbal tea or meditating an hour before bed can begin a relaxing routine.
Avoid Looking at the Clock
Avoid looking at the clock if you wake up in the middle of the night. It can cause anxiety. This is very difficult for most of us, so turn the clock away from your eyes so you would have to turn it to see the time. Chances are you’ll decide not to make the effort and go right back to sleep.
Get Up if You’re Still Awake after 30 Minutes
If you can’t get to sleep for over 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something boring in dim light till you are sleepy.
Keep Your Bedroom at a Comfortable Temperature
Make sure it’s not too warm and not too cold. Cooler is better than warmer.
Create White Noise
If you have problems with noise in your environment, you can use a white noise generator. An old fan will work, or you can buy noise machines from many sources.
Know That the “Night Cap” has a Price
Alcohol may help you to get to sleep, but it will cause you to wake up throughout the night. You may not notice it. (It is worse if you have sleep apnea because the alcohol makes the apnea worse.) Sometimes people snore only if they have had some alcohol or may snore worse if they already snore.
Get more bedtime ritual tips on my blog.
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