Seeing as though about 1/3 of our day is spent asleep, there’s probably good reason to make it “worthwhile”.
Sleep is literally when our bodies “shut down”, repair, recover, reheal and regenerate – that’s a lot of R’s!
During the day our body is constantly working, via the digestive system, blood flow, waste removal, energy demands, physical and mental stressors and stimulus.
When we sleep all of this needs to be rested, and started up again for the next day. It’s also a time when our hormones and organs help with detoxification, and rebalancing. If you have a poor nights sleep for various reasons, only a fraction of these jobs will be carried out. We’ve all experienced that at some point via a few too many drinks, late night out, illness or young children – the next day feels like we’ve been carried through the eye of a storm!
The occasional one we can get away with, but regularly and our bodies, immune system, health and internal system will soon deteriorate,which will include fat gain around the stomach, poor liver health (skin pimples, black puffy under eyes, digestive issues are signs), poor and erratic energy levels, irritability and the need for continued stimulants(coffee, sweets, nicotine) to function.
Continued lack of sleep plays havoc with cortisol (stress hormones) and insulin levels(controlling blood sugar) – both of these will promote additional fat storage on the stomach and love handles……magic!
So what can we do to ensure the above doesn’t become a regular pattern and that our sleep is as good as it can be?
1. Try to be in bed, with lights off by 10:30pm. We have a “system” in our body called circadian rhythm, which controls our biological clock, working with the amount and type of light we take in and process through our brain. During the day with sunlight, our body is put into “work” mode, as the day draws in, different filters of light are processed through, and melatonin (sleep hormone) starts to build in the body. Naturally our bodies start to wind-down, and our body is ready for sleep patterns – stay up later, especially through computer and tv use, you continue to supply the eyes and brain with artificial light and rays, upsetting the melatonin/brain balance, causing un-needed stimulant and stress which will definitely affect sleep patterns and hormone release. Turn off the tv, grab a fictional book, maybe a warm bath with Epsom Salts and relax the body!
2. Try not to drink coffee after 2pm. Caffeine can stay in your blood stream for up to 6 hours, causing a stimulant affect, raising adrenaline and cortisol which are just the things we’re trying to lower through sleep! The same applies to alcohol which is pure sugar and acts as a stimulant (I’m not saying you should drink your alcohol before 2pm!!! Just be aware of the effects!) Your liver processes both of these, and as it tries to detoxify itself during sleep, it’s like a double edged sword.
On the subject of liver detoxification (Did you know your liver process EVERYTHING you eat and drink and converts it into a format your body can use? A reason to keep foods as natural as possible, to stress the liver as little as possible. If you continually wake between 2am-4am, this is a sign of a toxic liver)
3. Try to eat your last meal a good 3 hours before sleeping so that your digestive system is not being stressed as you attempt to sleep. Half a banana before bed can sometimes help with sleep.
4. Valerian tea 30mins before bed is very good for helping with deeper sleep. Valerian is a precursor to Valium (! Don’t worry, it’s not drastic) and can be bought from most supermarket
5. Magnesium and zinc supplementation. Both are minerals the body needs for many duties, but both can aid better sleep. Aim for around 300mg magnesium and around 20mg zinc
6. Write down your next day’s todo list. If your tend to be someone who over thinks things, you’ll probably fine you are thinking about things before going to sleep or maybe even wake up remembering something? Keep a pen and pad by the bed, write down anything you need to, the next days to-do list and clear the mind.
Start your day with a form of protein with breakfast; meat, eggs, or even a protein shake (combine the 2 with protein pancakes – the best! And you only “don’t have time” because you haven’t got up just 5 mins earlier!! Change the routine!)
Protein keeps energy high by NOT spiking insulin levels/blood sugars, that “convenient” cereals and breads do….this is a perfect way to have an energy/hunger crash mid morning, and to enlarge the love handle area!
Sleep is taken for granted, but if you can follow the steps above, and get regular, decent quality sleep, daily life and health will become a much stronger pattern, and you may not be reliant on coffee to function first thing in the morning?!