Ok I have to be honest with you. I think I’m writing this blog more for me than for you. I needed to do the research to remind myself why a good night’s sleep is so important. I know that as a Health and Wellness Coach I should be practicing all the pillars of health that I talk to my clients about but hey, no one is perfect and I am admitting to you that sleep is my Achilles heel. When I was breastfeeding my children, I wouldn’t have to wake up for the midnight feed as I hadn’t even gone to sleep yet! Actually, I just looked at my watch and it’s 10.48 pm (that’s not good).
When you are sleep deprived, your cortisol (your stress hormone) rises – and so do all its harmful effects, including brain damage and dementia, weight gain, diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, depression, osteoporosis, depressed immunity and more.
The reality is that most of us need at least eight hours of restful sleep a night. But meeting this goal has become more and more difficult.
“Everything you do, you do better with a good night’s sleep.” – Dr Michael Breus
Women are much more likely to report sleep problems like not getting enough sleep or being sleepy during the day.One possible culprit? Our hormones. Hormonal changes can wreak havoc on sleep. In turn, sleep deprivation can affect hormone levels in a sleepless vicious cycle. So when hormone levels spike or drop, such as during the menstrual cycle, during and after pregnancy and especially around menopause, women may be more vulnerable to sleep problems.
Researchers have found that women who have hot flushes during perimenopause (the years preceding menopause, when hormone levels are declining) are also more likely to have sleep disturbances. About 60% of perimenopausal women have hot flushes and many of these women will also have associated sleep problems.
Studies have found that by having room temperatures lower and by wearing layers to bed that you can take off or put on, women are less disturbed by hot flushes and have more restful sleep patterns.
But if your lack of sleep is not only due to hormonal changes in your body but due to you being distracted by things happening around you, then here are some tips to help improve your sleep.
Tip about the tips: Don’t try institute all of the tips at once, that can be overwhelming for anyone. Just choose one tip to institute initially and then maybe add a second one when you feel ready to continue to make changes.
Tip 1: Stop caffeine within 4 hours of bedtime
Caffeine e.g. coffee, tea, chocolate acts as a stimulant so:
- It will be harder to fall asleep
- You will sleep more lightly
- It can awaken you during the night to use the bathroom
Tip 2: Stop alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime
Alcohol can affect your sleep by:
- Keeping you from reaching the deep stages of sleep (REM sleep)
- Dehydrating you
- Giving you vivid nightmares and night sweats
Tip 3: Ditch Digital Devices within 1 hour of bedtime
Digital devices emit a blue light which:
- Affects the release of melatonin (your sleep hormone)
- Causes heightened alertness
- Disrupts your body’s circadian rhythm (internal body clock)
Tip 4: Kiss the sun for 15 minutes every morning
- Sunlight regulates your production of melatonin
- Sunlight regulates the natural ebb and flow of your sleep-wake cycle
- Sunlight boosts your daytime energy levels and helps you to fall asleep at night
Tip 5: Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fibre, protein, healthy fats and non-starchy carbs
- This will promote a deeper, more rejuvenating sleep
- Steady blood sugar levels keep your energy levels constant and will help you to stick to a normal sleep schedule
Which one change are you going to make to your sleep routine this week? Will you:
Stop caffeine within 4 hours of bedtime or
Stop alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime or
Ditch Digital Devices within 1 hour of bedtime or
Kiss the sun for 15 minutes every morning or
Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fibre, protein, healthy fats and non-starchy carbs?
I’m sure after making some changes you will be on your way to sleeping the recommended 7-9 hours sleep per night and your body will thank you as it will be able to function more efficiently after a good night’s sleep.
The Sleep Doctor.com, Michael J Breus.PhD
Medical Disclaimer: All information contained in this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent health problems. For all serious health issues, please contact a medical or nutrition practitioner. The information provided in this blog is based on the best knowledge of the author at the time of writing and we do not assume liability for the information within this email, be it direct or indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages. In all circumstances, it is always wise to consult your physician before changing your diet, taking supplements or starting any exercise or health program.