We all know how fantastic it feels when we’ve had a solid good night’s sleep, however getting the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep a night can seem like a complete illusion to many of us. There are a number of key factors that can cause insomnia. The most common causes and lifestyle choices that trigger insomnia are:
- Stress and anxiety
- Pain (from injury, overuse, or arthritis)
- Digestive problems/ Poor Diet
- Respiratory conditions
- Working night shifts
- Alcohol or drug use
Most people manage at least a couple of these triggers at a time so it’s no wonder that sleeping problems are on the rise and the health risks associated with it are as well.
One major health risk that can spiral into many other destructive issues is the connection between lack of sufficient sleep and weight gain. A study showed that people who sleep between 3.5 and 5.5 hours a night will end up consuming nearly 385 more calories the next day when compared to those who sleep between 8-10 hours. Lack of sleep dramatically effects hormonal balance. A link between sleep and the hormones ghrelin and leptin (the hormones that manipulate our eating behavior) shows that these two hormones act as a ‘checks and balances’ for managing hunger and fullness. Ghrelin, which is produced in the stomach, increases appetite, while leptin, which is produced in fat cells, sends messages to the brain that you’re full. When there is an imbalance between these two hormones intense food cravings (sugars and carbohydrates) and a sense of never being full will occur. Sleep deprivation can also bring about brain fog, depression and boredom from fatigue that often leads to emotional eating from a perceived lack of satiety (which is really a lack of energy). Combine all of these together and the result effects your bottomline (literally), both in productivity at work and life AND on your waistline.
What to do?
Here are some of my methods for optimal sleep
- Start your day with some SUNSHINE! Getting as little as 20-30 minutes of natural sun light at the start of your day will not only give you a boost of Vitamin D but also help to reset your biological clock, balancing your body’s melatonin and cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
- Omit or limit your caffeine consumption after 12:00 noon. I know that it is tempting to dip into a latte at 3:30 pm when you’re wrapping up a long day but studies have shown that caffeine’s effects can last up to 12 hours in your system and in turn disrupt your sleep.
- Turn off all electronics (TV, iPad, and most certainly your cell phone) at least 1 hour before you intend to go to bed. Here’s the reason for this. The short-wavelength blue light that is emitted by these devices delays your body’s internal clock (aka your circadian rhythm), which suppresses the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. The more electronic devices a person uses in the evening the harder it is to fall asleep and or stay asleep.
- Essential Oils – our favorite Lavender oil is a MUST in my home. For centuries lavender and lavender oil has been known to encourage calm and relaxation. Using it topically before crawling into bed allows for a long-lasting effect (I like to rub a few drops under my nose and on my chest). I also love to mist a blend of lavender and distilled water over my pillow and bed sheets (this is especially helpful when traveling). If you like to use diffusers I run mine with our lavender oil at night.
- Stop eating at least two hours before going to bed. This is especially important with regard to sugars, carbohydrates, and alcohol consumption. Food will spike your blood sugar and your energy. If you are REALLY needing a bedtime snack stick to a small portion of a high protein such as a handful of cashews or almonds.
- Chamomile Tea. I have a few favorite blends of teas containing chamomile but whatever your flavor preference enjoying a cup of chamomile tea before bedtime will help get your body ready to rest. Chamomile’s calming effect is often attributed to the antioxidant apigenin. Apigenin binds to specific receptors in your brain that may decrease anxiety and initiate sleep.
- Regular infrared sauna use! I know, I know … of course I am going to say that but I only do so because I am a regular infrared sauna user and have seen first hand the healing benefits it provides, including assisting in sleep management. The heat produced in an infrared sauna penetrates around 2” into the body, warming and relaxing your muscles and relieving tension. Through sweating the toxins that produce inflammation and disease within the body’s cells are released. Couple that with chromotherapy (our blue chromo-light option is especially good for promoting a good night’s sleep) along with our Shack special blend of essential oils, regular sauna use can help you achieve the quality sleep your body needs on a cellular and emotional level.
- #feelhealth TODAY