Sleep Well, Live Longer
February 25 2022·
February 25 2022·
When your sleep is really off, it can highjack your entire life. I never fully understood the importance of sleep until I started spending many sleepless nights with my babies. The lack of sleep got me feeling dazed, foggy, moody, forgetful and craving sugar. I realized I wasn't myself when I wasn't sleeping.
The quality of your parenting is regulated by the quality of your energy and your presence with your family, and if you are sleep deprived, you won’t be able to function at a high level. This made me want to dive deeper into the connection of sleep and good health. I learned about a recently discovered system in the brain called the glymphatic system, the brain’s cleansing system in charge of clearing protein and toxins out of your brain. It only kicks in during REM sleep (when dreaming happens) or during deep sleep (when there’s very little brain activity). If you don’t sleep well, this system cannot do its job and as a result all this stuff builds up in the brain, hence why I was feeling all sorts of ways.
Now that we're all sleeping more around here, myself included, I realized that sleep cycles are critical to living a long-healthy life. And while most people need 7-9 hours of sleep, it's not really about the quantity but the quality of your sleep. Cue your body and mind into good sleep with these 10 tips that have helped me improve the quality of my zzzz.
- Step outside into the sunshine first thing in the morning to keep your circadian rhythms in sync with nature (lively in the day, waning as the sun sets, sleepy at night).
- Meditate 20 minutes in the morning. Studies show this has a positive impact on p.m sleep.
- Exercise for at least 30 min daily. Cardio workouts during the day make it easier to fall asleep at night.
- Caffeine. How you metabolize caffeine is genetic, some people are more sensitive to it than others. Know your limits. If you’re sensitive to it, cut it off by 2pm and have only one cup of coffee a day.
- Don’t wine down. Alcohol disrupts the sleep cycle, and while a drink may knock you out right away, it can wake you up in the middle of the night. Alcohol turns into sugar once it hits your system, making your body get to work instead of allowing it to restore.
- Dark & Quiet. The quality of our sleep is determined by the environment we sleep in. Light interferes with your body’s production of melatonin. Make your room totally dark and get rid of all light exposures coming from electronics. Aka those little green/red lights. Don’t check your phone when you wake up in the middle of the night, the blue light sends your brain the massage to stay awake.
- Cool down. Being too warm could inhibit sleep hormones and you need a lower core body temperature for sleep. Keep the thermostat low (68° Fahrenheit) or the windows open.
- Quality, quantity and timing of food. Heavily processed foods are high in carbs and come with a sugar rush. Eating light, whole foods at least 3 hours before bed will not only help you sleep better, but also aids in weight loss. Eating earlier is proven to help regulate the circadian rhythm.
- Remove all electronics from the room you sleep in. Even when these are off they are still sending waves that stimulate your brain and keep it awake.
- Build a sleep ritual. We need a transition period between a hectic day and a good night sleep. Take a hot bath with salts & lavender, this combination is known to calm the nervous system. I use our very own Bath Therapy. Read a book or write in your journal. The “legs up the wall” restorative yoga pose is a great way to boost circulation, calm your nervous system, and relax your body.
sources: Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Gerard Lemole, Lisa Levitt Gansley.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner first.