When it comes to your health, sleep is often overlooked.
Time and again I have heard the saying “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. While I get that we want to enjoy and live our lives, it can’t come at the expense of a good night's sleep. Here’s why:
How we feel and function while awake depends a lot on how well we sleep and for how long.
Each person is different in how many hours they need to sleep each night. The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep to function at their best while awake.
Without getting enough sleep and reaching REM sleep (which is the restorative part of our sleep cycles), our body doesn’t get a chance to rest and repair itself.
Take weight lifting and being active for example. When we lift weights and build muscle, we tear the muscle slightly. When we go to sleep, the body repairs our muscles and other tissues, along with dead and dying cells.
Another factor of not getting enough sleep is it can cause hormonal imbalances. For instance, a lack of sleep leads to increased levels of our stress hormone, Cortisol and can also lead to an increase in insulin resistance, which is one factor in the development of type 2 Diabetes.
This in turn can cause us to have a slower metabolism, age faster, and lead to other health-related problems like heart disease.
Sleep and stress reduction are a major part of everyone’s overall health, but even more important for women who are pre and post-menopausal, because sleep and stress reduction are so vital to proper hormone balance.
One of the best ways to get on a better sleep cycle is to create a night time “unwind” routine in order to help you sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed.
Here is an easy list of Do’s and Don’ts to try out if you are having trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep, or you find you are waking up groggy.
- Wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day
- Turn off electronics an hour before bed
- Take a hot bath, listen to meditation, or try a gentle yoga routine before bed
- Create a dark and quiet room to sleep in
- Eat 2 hours before going to bed
- Ingest sugar or caffeine 3-4 hours before bed
- Consume alcohol 3-4 hours before going to sleep
In the end, finding ways to unwind and destress at the end of the day will help you get a good night’s rest. You don’t have to try all of these options at once, choose 1 to start with and see how you feel.