70 Million…the number of people in this country with a sleep disorder!
Are you a card carrying member of the sleep disorder club? If you are one of the 70 million, you would likely do anything to get yourself ‘kicked out’ of such a group. Not getting enough sleep results in brain fog, a lower ability to solve problems, increased depression, weight gain, hormone imbalance, lowers your sex drive, ages your skin and impairs judgement. These are just the surface problems with sleep deprivation but the list of side effects is lengthy.
We’ve talked about sleep hygiene before, but it’s worth mentioning again, especially at this time of year when mothers everywhere will be burning the candle at both ends.
A good nights sleep actually starts the minute you roll out of bed in the morning. Sounds fishy. It’s true. Keeping your wake up time consistent every day, including weekends, makes it easier to have a more consistent bed time. Maybe you are more of a night owl than an earlier bird. This doesn’t mean you have to rise at 5:00 AM every morning, maybe it’s 9:00 AM, whatever that magical morning time is, make it consistent.
Another important morning ritual to adopt for a better sleep at night, is light. The more light we are exposed to in the morning hours as we rise, the healthier our circadian rhythm will be. Artificial light is better than nothing, but ideally, sunlight is best. Exposing our eyes to sunlight is magical if you want to sleep well. Not only does this boost the all powerful circadian rhythm, but it suppresses melatonin and raises cortisol.
Light exercise in the morning is helpful to guarantee some extra ZZZ’s at night. Maybe your schedule isn’t conducive to heading out to the gym, but find small ways to get a little more movement in…park in the farthest stall you can when you arrive at work, take the stairs, walk the kids to school, take the baby around the block, meet your neighbor for a brisk walk. It may take some creativity but it will be worth it.
Eat a protein rich breakfast. Let’s be honest, breakfast is the best meal of the day. That’s why it’s a family treat when they get breakfast for dinner! If its so great…and it is…why do we skip it? A good, healthy breakfast is an amazing tool to boost our metabolism, set our circadian rhythm and gives us the needed nutrients that we will need when night falls.
Now that we’ve covered the early morning habits the contribute to good sleep, what does the rest of the day look like?
Go easy on the caffeine! We all know that can wreak havoc on good sleep. This may not have occurred to you but even beauty treatments that contain caffeine can keep you up at night. Weird, but true.
Try not to nap. Instead of giving in to the urge to close your eyes, take a walk. Grab an ice cold water. Extra sleep during the day, though sometimes helps, can do more harm, than good.
Exercising too close to bedtime can keep you revved up and prevent you from sleeping well. Likewise, technology will have the same effect due to the blue light that interferes with serotonin and keeps you more alert.
As the day winds down, take some time to deal with the added stress you collected throughout the day. Meditate for a minute or two. Listen to relaxing music. Practice some deep breathing.
Finally, set your room up for success. Keep the lights low, the temperature cool and the bed comfy, with all your favorite, soft blankets. Get the right pillow for your comfort level and prepare to sleep through the night! Sleep hygiene will be the best way to self care through this busy holiday season.