We’ve all experienced the fatigue, bad mood and lack of focus that follows a night of poor sleep. But did you know that studies have shown just one night of bad sleep leads to an increase in the production of cortisol; a hormone known as the stress hormone? As a matter of fact, countless studies have linked poor sleep to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, depression and poor immune function. And that’s just to name a few…
There is no question in my mind – sleep is a critical part of life, just like food. Simply put… If you don’t sleep, you don’t live. Our bodies are not machines, they are organisms; organisms that remake themselves, rebuild themselves or die. Our bodies have an incredible ability to heal itself. I believe illness isn’t a machine breakdown; it’s a living organism failing to appropriately remake and/or rebuild itself. If you don’t give yourself enough sleep, the rebuild/remake will stop and issues will arise; manifesting differently for each person.
It’s very important, especially someone living with food sensitivities or chronic problems, to get 7 – 9 hours of sleep (8 is ideal!). Doing so allows your body the necessary time it needs to begin healing. Here are 5 tips that experts recommend, and have worked for us, on how to ensure a restful sleep:
- Stick to a schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time, even on weekends.
- Power down 60 minutes before bed time: This includes your phone, TV and computer. Dim your room lights as well. Bright lights alert our brains it’s time to be awake so dimming the lights and putting down the devices sends the opposite signal.
- Set the mood: In addition to dimming lights, keep your bedroom dark and cool. We’ve installed room darkening shades and keep our room about 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Exercise Regularly: It doesn’t take much… a 20 minute walk outside or adding just a few minutes of physical activity (pushups, planks, squats, etc.) can make a huge difference in your sleep.
- Clear Your Mind: Meditation, prayer, deep breathing or even writing down what’s on your mind are ways to help you wind down, slow your breathing and heartrate and fall asleep easier. This is a great activity to do in the power down time just before bed.
These changes should become habit and not just a once in a while thing. Keep in mind – habits take time to form… and life is complicated (kids, jobs, travel, commitments). Rather than giving up when “life happens” – be mindful of what gets in the way of your attempts and just keep trying till you get it right!