#3 Make Sleep A Priority

Simple Ways to Improve Your Health

A 5 Part Series

Let me ask you a question…

How would you rank your quality of sleep on a scale of 1 -10?

Do you feel like you have a good sleep every night, waking up feeling rested? Do you wake up during the night and have a hard time falling back asleep?

Adults should sleep 7 or more hours a night and getting less, especially in the long term, can affect the health of your body. It can lead to many health conditions including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, depression, weight gain, and impaired immune function.

What if there were easy steps you can do everyday that would increase the quality of your sleep and make you feel better, would you do them?

Why is sleep so important?

Humans are meant to spend about 1/3 of their lives sleeping. We sleep to regain homeostasis, restoring and repairing the brain. When we continue to get less sleep than our body needs our concentration and response time can slow causing us to make poor choices.

We now know that the main purpose of sleep is to allow for detoxification processes in the brain. Sleep is necessary for the brain to flush out the toxins that build up during the day.”

Dr. Sarah Ballantyne

When we don’t get enough sleep it can impact hormone and neurotransmitter systems, communication between neurons and stimulate inflammation in the brain (Ballantyne).

There are things you can do before bed to ensure a good night’s sleep but there are also ways to support your sleep throughout the day.

What you can do during the day:

  • Wake up gently, if you use an alarm clock try having music as opposed to a loud beeping. Gradually increase the light after waking.
  • Get outside, sunlight is the best way for you to tell your body it’s daytime, even if it’s cloudy. If you are unable to go outside then try to increase the lights in the house.
  • Include daily movement, ideally in the earlier part of the day.
  • Nap if you need to.
  • Limit caffeine after noon.

Support your sleep indirectly by focusing on your diet, balancing your blood sugar, giving your body the right amount of macronutrients at the right time. Also, with lifestyle changes, movement (daily exercise) and stress management (journaling, meditation, prayer), you can increase the quality of your sleep.

What you can do before bed:

  • Dim the lights a few hours before bedtime, soft amber lights are best, limit LED exposure (cell phones, computers, tv’s) and wear blue light blocking eyewear.
  • Create a calm, cool, dark environment for sleep and use a white noise machine.
  • Have a routine that tells your brain that it’s time for bed; take a shower or bath, drink some calming tea, write in a journal or pray to focus your thoughts, use essential oils such as cedarwood and lavender on the bottoms of your feet or in a diffuser.

Support sleep directly by focusing on powering down, circadian rhythms, creating a calm environment and supplements such as magnesium or melatonin.

Your circadian rhythm is what governs many essential biologic processes including metabolism, emotions, wake/asleep, body temperature, immune function, insulin sensitivity, and hormone production. You can help tell your body what time of day it is by stimulating the hormones melatonin for night-time and cortisol for daytime.

Simple Ways to Improve Your Health, a 5 part series:

#1 Drink Enough Water Every Day, click here to read

#2 Add Greens To Every Meal, click here to read

#4 Reduce Stress, click here to read

#5 Increase Daily Movement, click here to read

Reference: S. Ballantyne. (2017). Paleo Principles.

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