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While we may not know exactly how it works (scientists are still working out that part), we do know that sleep is a vital part of our well being. Although everyone varies with the amount of sleep they need, sleep depravation can cause all sorts of issues.
What does lack of sleep do?
In the short term, not getting enough sleep will cause cognitive issues – you’ll find it harder to process and respond to things in the way you normally would. You’ll feel sluggish, less focused and potentially slightly depressed. Your sex drive will drop, and you could experience a spike in your appetite leading to overeating. Just 24 hours of sleep deprivation makes someone as insulin resistant as someone with Type 2 Diabetes! Continual lack of sleep attributes to you storing more fat because of this friends, sleep it crucial to your overall health AND your weight loss results!
In the long term, lack of sleep has even harsher effects on your body. Not getting enough Z’s can lead to a higher risk of pulmonary issues such as heart disease, or could lead to a stroke. Also, studies show a large amount of auto accidents are due to sleep-deprived drivers. Yikes!
So now that you know you need sleep for a healthy life, how do you get more of it? Here are a few of my best suggestions:
Workout during the day
Wait, what? We were talking about sleep, what does exercise have to do with it? Well, when you workout during the day (or even get in a brisk walk or a 15 minute yoga routine), you’re increasing your ability to sleep better and deeper throughout the night. Your muscles repair and rebuild during sleep. You are literally growing stronger from your workout during sleep, which is why seeing the results you want from hitting the gym and eating properly cannot be done without it. Sleep is part of muscle growth that is often overlooked.
Unload your mind
Think about writing down your tasks in paper. This also applies to sleep. If you get things onto paper, you can get them off your mind…so you won’t find yourself lying there in bed making a mental to-do-list at 2AM.
There are a lot of things that can wreak havoc on your ability to get good REM sleep – the kind where dreams happen, and also the most important stage to hit to feel well rested. One of the main culprits? TV’s and cell phones. Not only do they keep your mind more active when you should be winding down, electronics give off a blue light that is proven to mess with our circadian rhythm – our bodies natural process that tells us when to sleep.
So instead of catching up on Law and Order, put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode and pick up a book instead. Also, if you can’t sleep within 15-30 minutes of going to bed, don’t just lie there. Get up and take some melatonin or have a warm bath. It can also help to set an alarm to start your bedtime ritual.
Evaluate your room
Your pillow deflates. The headlights of passing cars hit you every time they turn down your road. Your neighbors sound like they’re doing a rain dance above you. Any of these sound familiar?
There are all sorts of distractions that can happen at night to keep you up, so it’s important to combat them however possible. Install blackout shades to block streetlights, and use white noise machines. if you keep waking up from excess noise.
A comfortable bed with proper pillows is also super important. That mattress you’ve had since college is probably the reason you’re waking up with back pain and tossing and turning all night. One of the only things that helped me get off my sleep aid was a good mattress. Which makes sense, if you realize that we spend 1/3 of our LIVES sleeping. A proper mattress gives lumbar support and pressure relief which can help you hit deeper levels of sleep throughout the night, making you feel more rested throughout the day.
Dealing with Stress
Stress is an integral part of all of our daily lives, it seems. From work stress, getting the kids dressed and ready for school, solving family drama, to cooking and paying the bills (and let’s not forget – those dreaded taxes), it can sometimes seem like stress is here to stay.
And here’s the thing – I think a little bit of stress can be good for you, because it’s only under pressure that we truly want to better a situation, and stress helps motivate us to keep moving forward. However, if you’re having stress to the point that it’s keeping you up at night and your muscles are all knotted, stress can reach a point where it is truly unhealthy for your mind and your body.
Sometimes, you’re simply too overwhelmed to accomplish anything when you’re stressed. These are the times it’s important to unwind and get some solid alone time. You can read an uplifting book, meditate or do yoga
So what do you do when you can’t sleep? What helps you clear your mind and sleep? I want to hear from you below!