Sleep is so important for overall wellbeing and optimal health. If you are struggling to fall or stay asleep it is so important to look at a number of factors before running to things like melatonin supplements or other highly marketed sleep aids. I used to work in corporate, you know, the type of job where I had two phones and worked with colleagues on every continent. Basically I was always on call. I know what lack of sleep looks and feels like. I know what it’s like to live a life where you are balancing between “should I have that fourth cup of coffee?” and “I won’t make it through my meeting without another cup of coffee”. I think most of us know that needing sleep is common sense. We as humans actually can’t properly function mentally and physically without it. The problem is that it takes us a long time before we actually realize that we have a sleep issue. Its after weeks of neck pains from tossing and turning, the bags under our eyes, needing another cup of coffee during the day even though our typical is 1 or 2, having irritability towards family members and sudden onset of anxiety. The results can look different for everyone. That is why it’s so important to manage your overall health in order to prevent any sleep disruptions.
Being healthy isn’t about changing your patterns after you discover a negative – it’s about already having positive measures in place to prevent any negative from occurring. That doesn’t mean there won’t be hardships or issues on the road to deal with. It just means there will be less and you will already have the ability to deal with them because you have the foundation to deal with them.
Let’s talk sleep health and why sleep is so important:
- Sleep allows our internal organs rest and recovery, Tissue repair, muscle growth, and protein synthesis primarily occur during your sleep.
- Your hormones that help regulate appetite, stress, growth, and metabolism are released during sleep
- Memory consolidation occurs during sleep. This allows for storage of information like from learning something new.
- Proper sleep strengthens your immune system
- Gives you increased energy for daily activities
- Improves your mood and helps with reducing anxiety/ mental exhaustion
How does lack of sleep affect you?
- Weight gain
- Increased risk for chronic diseases
- Increased risk of accidents or injury
- Reduced cognitive function
- Increased anxiety
Here are a few example of why you may not be sleeping your best!
Your bedroom should be a peaceful space that makes you feel your utmost relaxed and safe. Things you should avoid: clutter, electronics before bed, reduce exposure to lights. I love to use my Hatch Restore for both the soothing sounds and for the light. I use the red light because red light’s wavelength stimulates the production of melatonin naturally. I also recommend an essential oil diffuser with sleep promoting oils to help you relax. Using clean and high quality is so important for both your health but also your pets and children health. A lot of essential oils aren’t natural and are really just fragrance which can be really harmful. I recommend Vitruvi Stone Diffuser and their line of essential oils. If you aren’t loving your sleep space it may be translating into poor sleep quality. Small changes can have a huge impact, new bedding is a small change that can be made that could make the world of difference. Ever wonder why you sleep so sleep in those luxe hotel sheets? Well because they are big and soft and feel like a cloud. Who doesn’t want to sleep in a cloud? I love Parachute Bedding .
Stress is hardwired in us, it’s a natural reaction to life events. Of course you want to stress when you see a bear because you want fight or flight to kick in. This issue lies when your body can’t distinguish between the bear and your intense work-load at the office. It is important to have methods of coping with your stresses. Those look different for everyone but one method I recommend to clients is starting a meditation practice. Meditation has been scientifically proven to help with anxiety and stress. I myself suffered from PTSD in my early 20’s and anxiety. Starting a meditation practice really helped me calm my mind and give way for more creativity, and give me clarity.
Other methods are movement, baths, reading a good book to take your mind somewhere else, getting into nature and breathing techniques. It is amazing what a walk outside can do for your mental health. I also want to chat about stress in terms of societal pressures. Social media gives us this idea that being busy is “cool” having a full agenda means you are living a fulfilling life, and that prioritizing work over health is okay. I’m here to tell you it’s not. It’s not okay to allow your body to be in a state of constant stress. Not only for sleep but for your health overall. It’s important to be able to distinguish between work and life. If you are feeling stressed it is important to recognize that and have measures in place to deal with it. Take a moment to ask yourself what brings you the most joy? That may be your answer in figuring out what would best help you deal with stresses in your life.
Lack of Movement
If I told 30 minutes a day of movement could improve your overall quality of live exponentially would you do it? There are 24 hours in a day, most Netflix series episodes are 45 minutes long. Moving your body for 30 min a day is not only easy but so important. The benefits are endless and could help greatly with stress levels as well as sleep.
I think a lot of the issue is that we are under the impression that when we see other people working out on social media that means we should be doing what they are doing. I want you to take a second ask think about what you love to do in regards to movement. I love the ocean so my favorite thing is to take a walk on the beach. Maybe for you its a high energy class, spin with friends, a walk in your neighborhood, a walk to your local cafe for your morning cup, pilates in the comfort of your own home, or lifting weights to build muscle. Whatever it is do it for 30 minutes a day for a week – see how you feel. Combine that with healthy eating habits and compound that the next week with adding some time to it. Now you’re up to 45 min a day of movement. Keep doing that until you are comfortable with YOUR PERSONAL pace.
Movement doesn’t have to be hours at the gym. It’s whatever makes you and your body happy. For me I love to follow a not so schedule, schedule. I love starting my Monday off with a walk, Tuesday for some pilates or yoga, Wednesday for some spin/ cardio, Thursday for some lifting, Friday for slow movements and mind body connection with yoga and Saturday for a fun class somewhere to try something different. Sundays depend but I typically attend the farmers market on Sunday which allows for plenty of walking. It took me a long time to find my rhythm and it may take you some time too but it’s not a race to get there. Small steps give you more sustainable lifestyle changes that you’ll want to stick with.
Our brains are full of systems and signals that allows our brains to regulate in order for us to live our best lives. Having systems in place can benefit so much with helping our brain work as they should.
Here are some methods to consider
- Create a bedtime routine – go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day (even on the weekends) this will put your body into a healthy rhythm.
- Experiment with evening activities that feel refreshing and restorative. Examples here can be yoga, stretching, meditation again, drinking a warm herbal tea, intimacy with your partner. All can be very relaxing.
- Tracking your sleep habits. Tracking can be so benefits in figuring out if there are specific things you are doing, eating, drinking that can be relative to your sleep deprivation. You can also purchase devices that can be worn that will track breathing while sleeping, movement and your heart rate. This can actually give you a lot of insight.
- Do something to help with your “busy brain”. This is a big issue for me personally – I have constant racing thoughts but they seem to always come through the most when I shut my eyes. I find that journalling before bed and getting all my thoughts out really helps. Recapping the day then making a to-do list for the following day gives me a chance to get everything on paper so I can clear my brain from thinking about it when I am ready to actually sleep.
I love using my Osea Vagus Oil before bed and the pillow spray is amazing as well.
High Sugar Intake
Sugar is such an addictive substance so I don’t take this topic lightly when speaking about it. I have seen individuals go through withdrawals similar if not exactly like heroin withdrawals. The problem is that most people don’t even realize how addicted to sugar they are until they go to attempt to eat less of it and feel the results. When it comes to sleep sugar can have a massive affect on your quality. When you blood sugar levels are high your kidneys will compensate for that by excreting it from your system. This will cause trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night disrupting your sleep.
Sugar has also been linked to slow-wave sleep. This sleep stage is essential for the body’s physical restoration and healing. It also is important for maintaining healthy metabolism and immune function. I’m not telling you to cut out sugars all together. In this instance it’s important to attempt to avoid sugars before bed.
Too Much Caffeine
I love coffee – seriously. If it’s working for you and not causing any issues then stick with it but if you are struggling with poor sleep then caffeine is one of the first things I discuss with clients. Like sugars, caffeine is one of those things that you don’t actually realize how much you are actually drinking until it’s REALLY too much. Suddenly you are up all night wired wondering if now would be a good time to rearrange the furniture (yes that was a personal example). If you are struggling with sleep my professional opinion would be to not drink coffee for a few days – a few weeks to allow your body a break. Then to add caffeine back slowly so you can prohibit any disruptions again.
If you are needing that afternoon coffee to get over the slump of the day I suggest trying matcha which has a slower release of caffeine, basically jitter free. I love Pique Tea’s Sun Goddess Matcha. You can also go for decaf because a lot of the time your body is just craving the taste. Coffee actually has some amazing health benefits but not when a pound of sugar and 3/4 of it is creamer so it’s important to be just as conscientious about what’s in your coffee as you are about how much of it you are drinking.
Sleep is also really important to Sakara Life and they are currently offering curated meal programs that help with your sleep. The meal programs are 3 weeks long but come with some amazing goodies like the Vagus product from Osea I mentioned, a sleep mask, informative sleep classes brought to you by experts in the field, a book and so much more. You can use code XOCORTNEY for money off your order. Check out Sakara to learn more!