Sleep 101 – Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

Have you ever gotten in bed, only to toss and turn all night?  You look at the clock and think to yourself, “if I fall asleep now, I can still get ____ hours of sleep.”

And when you DO eventually fall sleep, it feels like only minutes later that your alarm goes off!  You wake up feeling loopy, nauseous, and maybe even a little drunk!

Sounds crazy, right?  To equate lack of sleep with feeling intoxicated?  Turns out, sleep deprivation has similar effects on cognitive functioning as being drunk.  So, to your brain there isn’t necessarily much of a difference.

One study shows that moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments equivalent to those of alcohol intoxication. After 17 to 19 hours without sleep, performance was equivalent or worse than that of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.05 percent. After longer periods without sleep, performance reached levels equivalent to a BAC of 0.1 percent.  #thestruggleisreal

When it comes to sleep issues, an estimated 50-70 million adult Americans suffer from a sleep or wakefulness disorder.

Side Effects of Sleep Deprivation include:

  • Slower metabolism and weight gain
  • Increased inflammation
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Dark under eye circles & dull skin
  • Decreased energy
  • Lower levels of productivity
  • More accident prone

As a Functional Medicine Health Coach, my clients who are struggling to lose weight often want to set goals related to nutrition and exercise, which is a great place to start!  But if you are not getting adequate sleep, you may find it difficult to stay focused on your goals, make healthy food choices, and motivate yourself to move.

If you are not getting enough rest, you cannot function at your best!

Luckily, there are some easy tips you can follow to improve your quality of sleep so you can wake up feeling restored!

Here are 4 Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep:

ESTABLISH AN EVENING RELAXATION ROUTINE

It’s estimated that 1/3 of people will experience insomnia at some point in their lives.  With our daily lives being busier than ever, sleep is the first thing to go when we are stressed!  Establishing an evening relaxation routine can result in significant reductions in problematic sleep.

Part of your evening routine might include establishing a “power down” time; shut down the activities that stimulate your mind, such as work, emails, internet browsing and watching TV.  Try reading a book, taking a bath, listening to music or practicing gentle stretching or meditation to relax before going to bed.

PUT YOUR ELECTRONIC DEVICES AWAY AT BEDTIME

I have a horrible habit of getting ready for bed, and then spending the next hour lying in bed scrolling social media or browsing the internet on my cellphone!  No wonder I have trouble falling asleep… the use of electronic devices stimulates your brain, and the blue light some devices emit can interfere with your internal body clock.

For a better night’s sleep, put down electronic devices 1 hour before bed, and if possible leave them charging in another room.  If you have a digital alarm clock, turn the clock towards the wall so you’re not exposed to the light.

FOCUS ON SLEEP-PROMOTING FOODS BEFORE BED

While I wouldn’t advise having a large, heavy meal right before bed, if you have trouble sleeping you might want to reach for a sleep-promoting snack 30-40 minutes before you turn in.  A handful of unsalted roasted cashews combined with ½ a banana is a great bedtime snack.  Both foods help increase serotonin, the precursor to melatonin.  Serotonin signals our body to be calm, while melatonin regulates our sleep/wake cycle.

Tart cherry juice is another option before bed.  Tart cherries are one of the few natural food sources of melatonin. Research shows that drinking 2 servings of tart cherry juice can improve sleep quality, and extend sleep duration.

CREATE A RELAXING SLEEP ENVIRONMENT

Creating a relaxing sleep environment is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a good night’s sleep.  Temperature is often overlooked when it comes to reasons why a person may have trouble sleeping. Research shows that when you go to sleep, your internal thermostat drops. This body temperature change actually induces sleep. The ideal bedroom temperature for sleeping is between 65 and 72-degrees Fahrenheit.

Other tips for creating a relaxing sleep environment include using light-blocking shades on the windows, diffusing a calming essential oil like lavender, wearing an eye mask for total darkness, and even buying new pillows or a new mattress for optimum comfort.

Now that you’ve read these tips for better sleep… go to bed and catch some Zzz’s!

To Your Health,

Kate

PS- Do you have a bedtime routine at the moment? Do you repeat the same activities every night, or just once in a while?

Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.

And be sure to join the conversation over on my FB page for more health tips.

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