7 Tips For Getting The Perfect Night’s Sleep
No one can survive without sleep. According to Patrick Holford, author of New Optimum Nutrition for the Mind, an alarming 47% of us have trouble getting enough of it. Although no one truly knows exactly why sleep is necessary, we do know that without it, our health deteriorates quickly. Here is a brief list of a few of the unfavorable consequences of missing those zzz’s, even for one night:
THE SCIENCE BREAKDOWN:
1. Blood sugar instability and its evil twin, weight gain.
The day after inadequate sleep you’ll be prone to fluctuating blood sugar and hormonal fluctuations. Research has shown that decreased sleep is associated with elevated ghrelin (the hormone that induces hunger) and a reduction of the hormone leptin, (which signals satiety or the feeling of being full).
This means you're likely to feel hungrier and eat more!
What’s even worse is that you’ll also crave high carbohydrate and high sugar foods. Yikes. These two factors may make it exponentially more difficult to stick to your paleo guns.
2. Impaired Mood.
In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression. I can definitely relate to this. When I sleep poorly it almost always seems like everyone is irritating and everything goes wrong. Making sleep a priority can keep things a little more lighthearted.
3. Decreased Concentration.
According to Loughborough University findings, sleepy people also have trouble finding the right words, coming up with ideas and coping with rapidly changing environments.
Fifth cup of coffee, anyone?
4. Levels of magnesium and zinc decline.
Unfortunately, a deficiency of magnesium can, in turn, make getting quality sleep more difficult. It's a vicious cycle.
5. Vitamin C is used up rapidly.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and losing significant amounts of this valuable nutrient puts you at risk for damage due to oxidation. Increased levels of inflammation throughout your body can lead to immune system suppression which increases your vulnerable to illness and disease.
6. Increased reaction times.
In fact, studies have shown that reaction times are so impaired due to sleep loss that driving fatigued is similar to driving drunk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration even estimates that fatigue is a primary cause of approximately 100,000 car crashes resulting in 1,550 fatalities per years in United States alone.
7. Immunity plummets.
Sleep deprivation results in a reduction of natural killer cells which provide resistance against foreign invaders. When natural killer cells are missing in action, you become far more susceptible to illness and disease.
8. Accelerates aging.
If you can’t sleep it may be the result of elevated levels of cortisol. When cortisol levels are abnormally high, levels of growth hormone (GH) will be suppressed. This is tragic because GH is responsible for your body’s daily repair. Without it, you age more quickly.
No one needs that!
As you can see, there are a number of negative consequences associated with poor sleep and this list is only the tip of the iceberg.
In fact, getting quality sleep every night is one of the cornerstones of vibrant health and will help you to:
- Lose weight
- Improve mood and cognitive function
- Preserve precious nutrient stores
- Prevent accidents
- Enhance immunity
- Reverse the aging process
Follow the tips below and sleep your way to vibrant health 😊
1. Keep your blood sugar stable.
Unstable blood sugar will be perceived by the body as a stressor, which could impair sleep. Have you ever drank too much and woke up in the middle of the night unable to fall back asleep? Yep, that’s your blood sugar crashing. To keep blood sugar steady be sure to:
- Eat high quality protein and/or fat with every meal,
- Eliminate refined sugar, refined carbohydrates and grains, and alcohol.
- Opt for green leafy and low glycemic vegetables (kale, spinach, asparagus, brussels sprouts) rather than starchy versions (sweet potato, potato, yam, squash).
- Eat no more than 2 whole organic fruits per day (dried fruit and fruit juice can be blood sugar nightmares. Avoid for best results).
2. Cut out the caffeine.
Stimulants such as soda, tea, and coffee result in the release of stress hormones that cause blood sugar instability. Just as we learned above, quality sleep means keeping your blood sugar steady. If you can’t imagine a world without caffeine, try cutting down to 1 daily serving (organic tea is best!) and cut yourself off by 2 p.m.
3. Supplement with magnesium and calcium.
Magnesium and calcium are minerals that helps to relax your body. Excessive sugar and stress will deplete these precious minerals. Try incorporating leafy greens or seeds (which are rich in these precious minerals) as a bedtime snack or supplement with 400 mg calcium or 300 mg magnesium each night. My favorite is Thorne Research's CalMag powder which also provides vitamin C to help enhance absorption.
4. Improve your sleep hygiene.
Keep your room as dark as possible
Don’t exercise right before bed
Keep your bedroom slightly on the cool side
Turn off all electrical stimulation two hours before bed
Wear comfortable clothes
They may seem like little changes but for many, they make a huuuge difference!
5. Avoid large meals at night.
When you eat too much before bedtime, your digestive tract works overtime which stimulates metabolism and interrupts sleep. Sleeping immediately after eating will also make you far more likely to wear that food as fat. Actually, sumo wrestlers utilize that very trick to gain massive amounts of weight.
To avoid a sleepy, sumo-wrestler fate, stick to small frequent meals throughout the day and designate the 3 hours before bedtime a “no snack” period.
According to Patrick Holford, author of New Optimum Nutrition for the Mind, a 2005 study demonstrated that regular exercise helps you burn off adrenalin and stabilize blood sugar which promotes sleep. I can definitely vouch for this effect.
When I don’t exercise, I sleep far less.
Always be sure to exercise no later than early evening, however, or you could be too revved up to sleep!
Valerian is an herb sometimes called nature’s valium. Please never use it in combination with alcohol or other sedative drugs!! However, if you’re not using one of these substances try a valerian root tea or take 150-300 mg approximately one hour before bedtime.
Research has shown this shown this herb to be highly effective.
It is my hope that these tips help to improve your precious sleep quality so that you can live a long, lean, rested and vivacious life.