Improving Your Sleep
Last week we learned that adequate water consumption is essential for optimal health and wellbeing. Just as essential for good health is ensuring that we get enough good quality sleep.
Fat loss - A lack of sleep lowers your insulin sensitivity, negatively impacting your bodies ability to effectively deal with carbohydrate through maintaining blood sugar levels. Essentially this means your body is more likely to crave sugary food, which will increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Increasing muscle - Testosterone and human growth hormone play a large role in growth and repair of muscle tissue and are impacted heavily by the amount of sleep an individual gets.
Overeating – Leptin is the hormone responsible for letting you know when you’re hungry and when you’re full. When deprived of sleep the body produces less leptin, which may make you think you’re still hungry and as a result you’ll be more likely to overeat.
Stress – A lack of sleep will result in an increase in the hormone cortisol, which plays a large role in your stress levels. A prolonged increase in cortisol levels may also negatively impact your energy throughout the day, your mood and your immune system.
Here are some suggestions for improving your sleep this week.
Ditch the technology
With Netflix, laptops and smart phones dominating our evening routines it’s no wonder that so many people struggle to get to sleep. It’s highly recommended that one hour prior to bedtime you turn off all technology to reduce brain activity and let your brain know that it’s time to relax and get ready for some rest and recovery.
Go back to your childhood
You may not have had a designated bedtime since you were a kid but it’s proven that having a consistent bedtime increases the quality of your sleep and helps you to wake up feeling refreshed. Pick a bedtime and stick with it.
Take a lunch break in the sunshine
Not only will stepping away from the desk at lunchtime each day help you to be more productive and energetic in the afternoon but we now know that 10-15 minutes of sun exposure in the retinas significantly improves the body’s natural production of melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone that is essential for a good nights sleep to ensure adequate physical and physiological repair.
Try some magnesium
Magnesium is an essential nutrient in the body and is found in foods including beans, nuts and green leafy vegetables. A Magnesium supplement prior to bed has been found to help aid in the process of getting to sleep.
Write it down
A very effective technique for busy people to switch off at night is to grab a pen and paper and get the thoughts out of your mind and onto paper to reduce your chance of sleeplessness.
Write down three things that went well today, this will help to shift you into a positive frame of mind. Then write down three things that you are grateful for in your life. Finally write down the three most important things that you're going to do tomorrow.
Caffeine can stay in your blood stream for up to six hours, creating the feeling of alertness. It is as such recommended that you do not have a caffeine based drink after 4pm as this may impact your bodies ability to get to sleep. Instead explore some of the great caffeine free teas available that will help you relax and unwind.
That drink to relax after work
This is bad news for many of us but the latest sleep studies show that even having one alcoholic drink significantly impacts the quality of repair and restoration that we need to experience during sleep. So next time you get home and ‘need’ that glass of wine, we encourage you to explore other ways to switch off as what you really need is a good nights rest.
Other ideas to try
Reading a book in the evening, using the guided mindfulness app Headspace to relax your busy brain (this one takes persistance but is worth it), taking a bath, listening to music or a podcast or performing some gentle stretching.
Essentials of emotional mental health
Relaxation - a short break out of your day to take a breather
Resting - a significant period of time to unwind from your day to day stresses and demands
Sleeping - enough nightly sleep
Meditation for Sleep
According to Headspace Meditation trains us to be less in our head and more aware of the present moment. The mind’s tendency to get caught up in thoughts is perhaps strongest at bedtime, when we suddenly stop and be still. Meditation for sleep is a specific, guided experience that offers a natural sleep aid all on its own, allowing us to let go of the day—everything that’s happened and everything that’s been said — so that we can rest the mind while simultaneously resting the body.
In scientific terms, meditation helps lower the heart rate by igniting the parasympathetic nervous system and encouraging slower breathing, thereby increasing the prospect of a quality night’s sleep.
Try the Headspace meditation app for free tonight.
Our weekly challenge this week is to track and improve our quality of sleep as well as trying to implement at least one of the recommendations above. The goal is a minimum of 7 hours per night and to be aware of how you feel as a result.
Please complete the weekly worksheet and submit for further coaching.