New years is upon us and everywhere I look I see people talking about new years resolutions and ‘Healthy Habits’ (how to eat better or what exercises are most effective), but what I don’t see a lot of is how important sleep is and how it can affect weight loss and health!
Get More Sleep – A First Step To Better Health!
Really when you think about it sleep affects ALL aspects of your life. Your mood, your skin and health, your energy and productivity during the day…
Sleep is often one of the first things to go when people feel pressed for time. People often overlook the potential long-term health consequences of insufficient sleep, and the impact that health problems can ultimately have on one’s time and productivity.
But it shouldn’t be that way! Although scientists have just begun to identify the connections between insufficient sleep and disease, most experts have concluded that getting enough high-quality sleep may be as important to health and well-being as nutrition and exercise. Whether YOU feel tired or not if your are getting less than 8 hours a night your body is not getting enough sleep to perform all it’s functions. And I find that when your body is sleep deprived you are more likely to eat unhealthily, find it HARDER to commit to a workout routine and quit your workout sooner.
You might be aware of how all the modern day trappings can keep you from getting good shut eye, with all the blinking lights, bright alarm clocks, buzzing phones and dinging computers, many of us struggle with getting quality sleep. They certainly keep a bedroom from being relaxing. Many reasons why people find it hard to fall asleep have a lot to do with the technology we’re viewing before bed and how it can interfere with our sleep patterns.
The circadian rhythm seems to be especially sensitive to light with short wavelengths—in particular, blue light in the 460-nanometer range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This light, which is given off by electronics like computers and cell phones, and also by
energy-efficient bulbs, has been shown to delay the release of melatonin. In other words, electronics could keep you feeling
charged past bedtime. ~National Sleep Foundation
But that might not be the only thing keeping yo from dream land! There are several things that can keep you from dosing off or staying asleep.
Here are 4 Reasons you may not be getting more sleep:
Just like the animals, who somehow know when to be awake and when to be asleep, we have an internal clock that has cycles of day and night. In an area of the brain called the hypothalamus, this timekeeper regulates many of our body’s functions, such as sleep, energy, and hunger. Sunlight detected by cells in the retina of the eye sends messages to the brain that keep us in a roughly 24-hour pattern. These light cues trigger all kinds of chemical events in the body, causing changes in our physiology and behavior. For example, as evening approaches and the light in our environment dwindles, the hormone melatonin begins to rise and body temperature falls—both of which help us to become less alert and more likely to welcome sleep. With the help of morning light, melatonin levels are low, body temperature begins to rise, and other chemical shifts, such as an uptick in the activating hormone cortisol, occur to help us feel alert and ready for the day.
THE FIX- Turn down your lights an hour or so before bed. Use soft, soothing lighting instead of bright overhead vanity lights. Hang blackout curtains or wear a sleep mask.
The body’s core temperature decreases as we sleep. If it’s too warm in your bedroom, your body can’t cool properly, and people with a higher core body temperature are more likely to experience insomnia and sleeplessness.
During the course of a normal day, your body temperature rises and falls slightly. This pattern is tied to your sleep cycle. As you become drowsy, your temperature goes down, reaches its lowest level around 5:00 a.m., and climbs slightly as morning begins. This is why the air in your room can affect the quality of your sleep: if it’s too hot, it may interfere with your body’s natural dip and make you more restless through the night. In fact, studies indicate that some forms of insomnia are associated with an improper regulation in body temperature. Of course each of us has a slightly different optimal temperature for sleep, so experiment with keeping your room cool and find what makes you most comfortable.THE FIX- The ideal bedroom temperature is a cool 65 degrees. As a bonus, a colder bedroom may boost your metabolism. A recent study in Diabetes Magazine found that people who sleep in cool rooms- 66 degrees- have increased energy expenditure even in their waking hours.
You’ve heard that your smart phone and other devises are responsible for sleeplessness, still the National Sleep Foundation says that 95% of Americans use some type of tech gadget within an hour before going to bed. The more time you spend on those devices, the more wired your brain will be, and the more wired your brain is the harder to fall and stay asleep.THE FIX- Check you social media and emails one last time at least an hour before you go to bed. Watching TV before bed is a no-no too. (sleeping with the TV on I imagine would be even worse. Time to kick old comforting habits aside if they are affecting your quality of sleep)
I suggest reading a book or listening to an audio book if you really need to do something before bed.
Unfortunately anxiety can create a cycle of sleeplessness, it can cause you to take longer to fall asleep, wakes you up early or can wake you up in the middle of the night.. lack of quality sleep then causes more anxiety.. and on it goes. Worry and anxiety keep your body and mind from relaxing and going into ‘off’ mode.THE FIX- Here are some things that might help: Listening to soothing music for 45 minutes before bed, drinking a relaxing (non-caffeinated) tea before bed, taking a warm bath, keeping a routine bedtime and having a set routine before bed. And of course, exercise. I find that adding exercise to my morning routine has helped me immensely with my quality of sleep. I know longer suffer from restless leg syndrome. I also find that I am sleepy on schedule before bed, unlike my previous night owl ways where I never felt tired, until my alarm went off, that is.
SO if you are thinking about making a change in your health for the better or are ready to commit to a new lifestyle… make the first step a step towards more and better quality sleep! Make your New Years resolution to have better quality sleep and see how it positively affects all your other resolutions this year!