Have you heard any of these popular sayings, or even used them yourself?
“I will sleep when I am dead.”
“The early bird gets the worm.”
“Burning the candle at both ends.”
“Burning the midnight oil.”
In our society working overtime hours to get things done and get ahead are signs that you are motivated, you are dedicated, and you are driven to do what it takes. We are proud of our lack of sleep, often bragging about it to our fellow colleagues around the water cooler at work. Lack of sleep just isn’t seen as a problem, but skipping sleep shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The truth is: Instead of helping us get ahead, it is making us sick, depressed, overweight and moving us toward the grave faster. It just isn’t healthy.
As an adult you need a good 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Are you getting that? I know with a new baby in the house I am not. As we move into our senior years that decreases to 6-7 hours per night. Good sleep improves your health, strengthens your immune system, improves your mood an boosts productivity.
During deep sleep, your body releases human growth hormone, and this isn’t just designed to make you taller! It also is a key component that stimulates your immune system. Your body has a chance to repair muscles, replace chemicals throughout the body and reinforces memory and learning that were formed during the day. No wonder they call it “Mommy Brain”! We are running on no sleep and can’t remember where we put our brain down the night before.
One or two nights with lack of sleep won’t kill you. I am talking to you, the habitual non-sleeper. You are more likely to be suffering from a myriad of health concerns including, but not limited to, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, depression, obesity and even reduced quality of life and productivity.
How can that be, you ask?!? Basically our bodies repair and strengthens itself during sleep. So when we do not get enough sleep it can have a negative impact on our hormone levels. Your lack of sleep can have direct effects on glucose intolerance, and the production of leptin, ghrelin and cortisol levels. These hormones are directly responsible to tell your body when you are hungry, full, or stressed out. Now do you see why you can’t lose that weight no matter what you eat, or how much you exercise?
One study that I found even points to reduced sleep time being a greater mortality risk than smoking, high blood pressure, and heart disease! Holy Cow!
A rise in the amount of screen time in our society may be one of the factors of reduced quality of sleep. Your body can’t differentiate between the stress caused by a bear chasing your through the woods causing you to go into ‘fight or flight’ mode, or the stress caused by a scary movie, an email from your boss about an upcoming deadline, or a particularly upsetting news story. It all releases cortisol into your system causing your body to be in a more wakeful state.
Another problem with screen time is that the light from your devise (TV, phone, computer…) goes directly through your retina into the hypothalamus. This directly delays the hormone melatonin from being released into the body. Melatonin is the hormone that is responsible to help up fall asleep and get a better rested sleep. Now be honest, how many of you have your phone beside the bed and check it in the middle of the night? How many of you read your kindle book in your phone app?
Develop Good Sleep Hygiene
When you put your child down to bed at night do you have a regular routine that you do? Help them take a relaxing bath, bush teeth, read them a book, and then they go off to dream land (hopefully for the full night) at the same time every night. Why do we raise our children to have great sleep habits, and then throw them out the window when we fly away from the nest?
I challenge you to re-create a night time routine, because sleep is just as important as exercise and eating healthy food. Sleep is part of our self care regimen.
- Create an evening ritual (just like we do with our kids)
- Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time in the morning (even on weekends)
- Avoid large meals before bed
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime
- Avoid screen time at least 30 minutes before bet time (Do not check your email/Facebook in the middle of the night)
- Incorporate Essential Oils into your night time routine for help with relaxation
- Diffuse relaxing oils like Lavender or Cedarwood in the air
- Apply the oils to your feet/neck/wrists
- Take a relaxing bath with them
If you are interested in learning what my trusted brand of Essential Oils is and how to get them, Contact Me Here!
I encourage you to really check in with your body. Do you feel rested in the morning when you wake up, or do you need to guzzle a pot of coffee in order to get out the door in the morning. (The excessive use of caffeine is another blog post in and of itself) Do you consider yourself forgetful? Are you having trouble losing weight? It is time to put yourself first, your health depends on it. Start Now!