The winter months are the perfect time to talk about sleep. The sun goes to bed early these days. And in order to achieve your health goals, perhaps you should go to bed early too!
More and more studies are popping up siting lack of sleep as a major factor in weight gain. Why? When we have even one bad night of sleep, our body craves sugary food and caffeine for energy. But lack of sleep also affects how our body metabolizes these sugars, causing the body to store more fat and crave more sugar.
But that’s not all – lack of sleep is associated with lowered levels of Leptin, the body’s natural appetite suppressant, and elevated levels of Ghrelin, the body’s natural hunger stimulant. Making you hungrier all day.
Chronic lack of sleep is associated with depression, obesity, type 2 diabetes, loss of sex drive, poor skin and hair quality, impaired attention, focus, and forgetfulness. It is also linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and irregular heartbeat.
But with all the things to cram into a day, how is it possible to get more sleep? Whether you need to add 1 hour or 4 hours onto your normal nighttime slumber. Start small. How can you get into bed 30 minutes earlier than you do right now? After a couple of nights with your bedtime 30 minutes earlier, move it earlier again. Keep going until you have reached your target bedtime.
If you just can’t get slowed down enough to get to bed, here are some suggestions:
• Turn off the TV 1 hour before you get into bed. Without this distraction you will ﬁnd it easier to get into bed.
• Turn the lights down early in the evening so that your body begins to release serotonin and signals you that it is time to turn in.
• Do not check email before bed. Make a cut off time and do not go back to your computer within the hour or half and hour before you go to bed.
• Do quiet mindful activities like journaling, drawing, talking with your partner/child/roommate/pets, to release stress and relax the body.
• Take a bath or stretch before bed to improve circulation and relax the body
• Make a list of all the things you need to do tomorrow to get them off your mind and on paper for the next day
• Listen to a nighttime meditation. There are so many to choose from and all with help you drift off to sleep effortlessly