A good nights sleep! Ah, every mamas dream. Unfortunately though for most of us mamas, at least for those of us with little babies, a good nights sleep is a little way away just yet! For those of us in this scenario, I survive by the mantra, “It will pass”, and they are only little for a short while (I know it’s annoying to hear but it does save my sanity when I need it). But for those of us who aren’t waking up to tend to little people, there really aren’t any excuses you cant overcome!
Most people today are not getting enough sleep, let alone enough quality sleep.
Sleep is so vital to our basic functioning but so many of us actually use sleep as a bargaining tool with ourselves. Getting up at 5am to check emails and getting straight onto the computer when the kids go down to get that extra bit of work done, and before you know it, its midnight! Resulting in 4 maybe 5 hours of sleep each night. This is simply not sustainable.
It’s a fact! Biologically, your body needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night to fully restore and revive your internal organs, tissues and cells. This is not negotiable, no matter how much bargaining you do, it’s Science! We need this sleep to live a healthy life and to properly thrive.
*When we sleep:
- Our bodies rest, recover and revive. Our tissues repair and our muscle growth and protein synthesis. This restorative process improves our immune function. Your immune system cannot operate properly without adequate sleep and when we don’t get it, this prompts the rise of inflammatory proteins and blood sugar levels in response to low levels of insulin being released throughout the night. Our immune system is not just about fending off colds or a runny nose; it’s critical to the prevention of chronic disease, even cancers. A number of autoimmune diseases such as Hashimotos disease, Coeliac disease, graves disease, lupus and MS are all on the rise today, for many factors of course but a lack of quality sleep is one of these. A good nights sleep will leave you feeling energised all day.
- Hormones are released that help regulate appetite control, stress, growth and metabolism. These hormones help to improve your mood, your ability to handle stress, making you less snappy and all round happier. Plus, you also make better food choices as cravings subside. So by lying down and getting proper sleep you can literally shed the pounds.
- Memory consolidation occurs, allowing for the formation and storage of new memories, which is essential for learning new information. Quality sleep heightens your alertness, your focus and your creativity. Helping you to work smarter and much more productively. Yes, that’s right, with a good nights sleep you actually work less and you work smarter.
When we allow our bodies to naturally restore with adequate sleep everything improves, our energy levels rise, our immune system optimises, our moods are better, even our sex drive improves. So, basically, you have all of this extra energy, you’re feeling much more creative and your libido is through the roof … just think what you could do with all of that 🙂
So, how can you start getting more creative when it comes to bedtime? 😉
1. Make it a priority. Just as you would eat, exercise and even breathe. Remember, biologically you need 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Your body does not lie. It’s non-negotiable. Accept this and focus on how you can get more quality sleep into your life instead of constantly bargaining these precious hours away.
Try This. If the demands of your day are getting in the way of your sleep, start by prioritising the most important things you need to do each day and then schedule them. Set an allocated time for each priority, from your family time, to cooking meals, work emails, cleaning etc. You’ll be amazed by how much time you will save by not checking and responding to emails as they come in throughout the day. Not only should you start to save time but this process also allows you to be more present in what you’re doing. So when you’re playing with the kids during family time, you’re worrying less about what you have to do for work because you have allocated time aside for that.
2. Get rid of the interferences. There are so many things that can interrupt your sleep but two of the most common are:
Artificial Lights: We really need to stop falling asleep in front of the telly, the iPad or the phone. These blue lights interfere with the sleep hormone melatonin which is absolutely critical to a good nights sleep. We need at least 2 hours of screen free time before bed so our bodies know when it’s time to start restoring.
Try this. Come 8ish, dim the lights, put on some soft music, read a book, take a bath, talk with a friend or partner, anything you need to do to wind down, and allow the melatonin to naturally rise in your body so that come lights out, you’re ready for a great nights sleep.
Caffeine: Whilst this is an obvious one, caffeine is of course a natural stimulant. But did you realise that by accelerating your adrenalin hormone, it’s accelerating your stress levels too. If you are dealing with stress or have any anxiety of any kind, cut the caffeine immediately.
Try this. If you’re having trouble sleeping, don’t have any caffeine after 12pm, preferably trial non at all to see if it makes a difference, just for a week and see what happens. After 3 or 4 days of moodiness and headaches (detoxing) you should feel great and naturally energised and hopefully a lot less stressed. I’ve literally just done this 2 weeks ago so I can promise you it’s true!
3.De-Stress. I know this is much easier said than done but too much stress is really not good for you. Some stress is actually good for you however only when it’s needed. Our bodies need the stress hormone adrenalin to literally keep us alive when we are in a life or death situation. Today however, many of us walk around in this constant “fight or flight” mode over the smallest of things, like emails or returning phone calls. And unfortunately our bodies don’t know the difference between an email or a real life or death situation, so it remains in this constant state and over time can lead to things like chronic fatigue and chronic inflammation which can of course lead to a whole host of illnesses. For your body to get the restorative repair it needs, sleep is vital so you must find away to manage this stress.
Try this. If you have worries or stresses on your mind, start with simply off-loading them before you sleep! If you can, talk it through with your partner, a friend or even just write it all down. You will not sleep well when your brain is replaying or reciting to do lists, arguments or worries.
4.Make sure your diet is full of the right nutrients: Magnesium deficiency is often related to poor sleep quality. Magnesium is critical to helping the body particularly the muscles relax. It’s estimated that over 65% of people are magnesium deficient.
Try this. If you regularly experience muscle cramps, restless leg syndrome, fatigue and migraines, load up on the green vegetables, nuts and seeds. Even dark chocolate can help but it must be 70% plus. Or you can try adding some Epsom salts to your bath, making this part of your wind down routine in the evening.
I hope this helps you to prioritise your sleep. Getting a good nights sleep is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, but if you are consistently having sleep problems, you need to see your doctor or medical practitioner for extra support, there could be an underlying problem with your health. The longer you leave it the more at risk you are.
So please, get some rest, make your health your priority and sleep tight!
Take Care of you
P.S A great book that helped me prioritise my sleep was “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington. If you don’t own a copy, get it. Not only is it a great insight as to the importance and value of sleep, it’s a good reference guide for general better living!
The information in this post is for guideline purposes only, if you are struggling with your sleep or any sleep related illness, please seek the appropriate medical support.
* (© 2006, 2016 Integrative Nutrition, Inc. | Adapted with permission)