Is Sleep Really That Important For Your Health?
Have you said “bye bye” to sleeping through the night?
Are you feeling exhausted and stuck in go, go, go all day? Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!
The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing
Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we're just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it. Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind. People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don't forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.
Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? It's true! I've seen so many clients who workout like mad and can't figure out why they aren't achieving their exercise goals. Many times, we figure out that they are skimping on sleep.
Knowing this it's easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:
● To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” while we sleep.
● To improve our brain's ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
● To conserve some energy so we're not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.
Do you know how much sleep adults need? It's less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it's recommended that all adults get 7 - 9 hours a night. For real! You may be so used to getting 5 or 6 hours of sleep that you don't even know what it feels like to be well rested - sleep deprivation may have become your new normal. So many people are walking around and operating at a sub-optimal level of energy and focus and they don't even realize it.
Tips for better sleep
The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you're more likely to achieve it. This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off. Seven. Days. A. Week. I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.
Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber). Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack). Make sure you're getting some protein and fat every time you eat.
During the day get some sunshine and move your body. These things tell your body it's daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it's the “added” sugar we're minimizing. Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte. Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).
Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 - 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading a book or having a bath. I find having a bath with epsom salts and essential oils (lavender is perfect for calming the body) to be one of the best ways to relax before bed.
Drink a calming bed-time elixir. My personal favourite which we use in my house is to have a cup of bone broth before bed. I really notice a different in my quality of sleep when I make bone broth a part of my night time routine. Bone broth is chalk full of magnesium which is the relaxation mineral. It also contains a ton of the amino acid glycine which helps the brain to maintain a deep restful sleep!
So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?
Recipe (Caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”): Caffeine-Free Chai Latte
1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
2 cups of boiling water
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
2 dates (optional)
Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.
Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.
Blend until creamy.
Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavour combination you like the best.