Quality sleep! Oh, how I have been missing you lately! I have not been sleeping nearly enough the last couple of months and I am really feeling it. This week, I want to focus on getting back on track.
Good sleep is crucial for weight loss, general health and a strong immune system. I’ve also noticed that both quality and quantity sleep, help me feel better, have more energy and stay on track with my dietary choices. I crave sugar like a mad woman, when I haven’t slept enough, even if I haven’t indulged in it for a long time. Next time you have a craving, stop and observe how much you slept the night before, is there a connection for you too?
A while ago, I read the book, Lights Out and it mentioned that, 80 years ago we were sleeping 3,395 hours in a year, now we are sleeping 2,555 hours. This translates to 25% less, or 840 hours less, or approximately 100 nights less sleep per a year! Crazy, right? Now, more than ever Americans spend more time working, and less time devoted to leisure activities.
I often feel guilty when I am having a lazy Sunday. There are always so many things I could be getting done. I am trying to work on this, by coming to terms with the fact that it is actually healthy for us to have a lazy day, snuggled up on the couch, reading a book or spending time with family. To be able to maintain our health, and keep up with our busy lives, it is essential that we get high quality sleep. Below are some tips that I have followed diligently in the past that have really worked well for me.
image via weheartit
9 Steps to Better Sleep
Sleep closer to 9 hours.
- Yep, that’s right, 8 is not the magic number. Studies conducted by the National Institute of Health, show that 9.5 hours of sleep is healthy, 7 months out of the year. Those would be the winter months, when the sun is out less (Lights Out).
Make your bedroom your oasis.
- This will help your mind & body, associate this room as a sanctuary for sleeping.
- There should be only 2 things we do in here, and they both begin with the letter S. Watching TV or working on our computers are definitely not on the list.
Make your bedroom dark. Really really dark.
- If your room gets a lot of light, consider purchasing some black-out curtains.
- Remove all electronics and blinking lights from the bedroom – especially the TV. Some research indicates that falling asleep to the TV actually hinders the body’s ability to release melatonin (Revive by Dr. Frank Lipman). All that light confuses our poor brains, and they aren’t sure if it is day or night. The release of melatonin is crucial, as this is what makes us sleepy. Our ancestors slept when it was dark, and woke up when it was light. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have that luxury, so we have to create something as similar as possible that works with our modern day lives.
image via weheartit
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine by turning the TV, laptop and all other electronics off at least half an hour before bedtime and dim the lights – one to two hours before bed would be even better.
- Take this time to just relax – meditate, do some yoga poses, or listen to some relaxing music at a low volume.
If the above is too much of a transition, then swap out the TV for a book.
- Although, it keeps our minds going, we lose the glare of the bright lights. Read something relaxing and positive. When I was addicted to the Hunger Games, this was not helping my sleep schedule, I was actually staying up until all hours of the night. Now, I opt for books on buddhism or something similar before bed. I am not religious, but I find these books helpful in relaxing and feeling positive before bed.
And if you really can’t put the computer down, get some blue blocking glasses.
- I swear by these! Night time exposure to blue light impacts our body’s ability to secrete melatonin. I have been using these ones for the last couple of months, and they have been a HUGE help. The best $10 I spent all year. They also allow me to start feeling sleepy, while I am working, so actually encouraging me to shut the computer off and get to bed a little earlier.
- Some people like the f.lux software that changes the computers color temperature, but I prefer the glasses because they also block other lights in the house that you may be exposed to.
- Some studies have found that the optimal temperature for sleep is between 60 to 68 degrees. According to Dr. Frank Lipman, lower temperatures promote the production and release of sleep hormones.
Ditch the afternoon Americano.
- The common recommendation I’ve seen is to avoid any caffeine after 12, so there is enough time for it to be out of our systems by the time we go to bed. I personally try to stay away from caffeine after 10AM. If you are really having trouble sleeping, ditch the caffeine all together!
Reconsider that nightcap.
- Although, a glass of wine with dinner, is just oh so relaxing. Alcohol can also be very disruptive to our sleep cycle. While alcohol does help us fall into a light sleep, it also robs us of the deeper, more restorative stages of sleep. Instead, it keeps us in the stages of sleep, from which we can be awakened easily.
Do you get quality sleep or is it something that you are working on too?