Is better sleep as elusive as the Holy Grail?
Do you hit the snooze button 7 times before you drag yourself out of bed? Do you drink vats of coffee just to be able to focus for more than 30 seconds? Do you reach for a Danish with a Snicker’s bar chaser just to stay awake in your morning meeting?
Keeping reading to see what’s keeping you from springing out of bed ready to seize the day and how you can tweak your bedtime habits to get the most out of a night’s sleep.
Problem: Your addiction to technology. Smartphones, tablets, computers, and even HD TVs emit a special kind of blue light that is the very wavelength the eyes and the brain use to signal “Hey, it’s morning, wake up and be productive!”.
Warning: Nerd Alert!!!
Considering you need red light to signal the melanopsin, a protein in cells behind the eyes that undergoes a chemical change when exposed to light which sends signals to the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN, (which regulates your circadian rhythms) which is connected to and tells the pineal gland to release melatonin which signals your body you are sleepy and prepares you for rest, the blue light is causing your body to think it is still daytime therefore not time to sleep.
Better Sleep Solution #1: Turn off your technology about 8pm (or 9pm at the latest). If you must work on the computer, tablet or smartphone any later, installing a”dimmer” app like F.Lux or Dimmer which adjusts the light emitted from your technology as the sun goes down and the light in the room dims without the natural light of the sun.
Also, installing dimmer switches in your home and dimming the light as the sun goes down or, better yet, turning them off and lighting candles, will send the right signals to the eyes, brain, and glands that it is really time to get some shut eye.
Problem: Your room is as dark as a cave! While getting to sleep in a dark room (especially the few days you are supposed to sleep in complete darkness if you are practicing lunaception) can help you sleep deeply, there is a flip side to not letting the sun shine through your window in the morning. Just as you need dim lights to get to sleep, you need brighter light to stimulate you to wake up.
Better sleep solution #2: Let the sun shine. If sleeping with your curtains cracked is not an option, consider investing in a wakeup light like the one fromwhich gradually brightens the room 20 to 30 minutes before you need to be awake which allows you to wake up much more gently yet, astoundingly, more refreshed.
Problem: You forget to dump your day. Chronic stress can affect the ability to sleep like nothing else. The inability to quiet the mind and replaying in your mind all the negatives of your day is enough to keep you up at night and leave you exhausted in the morning.
Better sleep solution #3: Download your stress. Practice relaxing yoga poses before bed, and learn how to journal everything from your day, meditate and envisioning how you would like your day to go the next day is a sure fire way to calm the brain and let your body rest.
Problem: Burning the midnight oil. Plain and simple, you don’t get enough sleep because you stay up watching the latest installment of whatever HBO has to offer or on that report you didn’t do earlier because you were so tired from not sleeping the night before. Not sleeping enough means your body isn’t performing its necessary functions that happen during sleep which means every aspect of your health (including your focus, concentration and immune system) is affected.
Better sleep solution #4: Ditch the Late Show. Going to bed between 10 and 11pm signals to the liver that it can safely do its nightly detox, and, because you are sleeping between 2am and 4am, the HGH can release at the time it’s supposed to (trust me, ladies, you want that for its anti-aging capabilities) which means cortisol can release when it is supposed to be released (yes, cortisol has its job in the body and it is supposed to be high in the mornings!) which means your overall performance is miles better than it would be had you stayed up way past your “bed time.”
Note: Be aware, if you stay up much past 11pm, often your body will get a “second wind”. This, in a sense, is your body starting a new cycle rather than ending the last one. This is the worst thing that can happen if you have any kind of adrenal issue.
Problem: Eating the refrigerator before bed. Late night eating is problematic on many fronts as it can trigger reflux issues or even silent GERD which produces just enough symptoms to rouse you out of deep sleep. Not getting enough deep sleep is as bad as not getting enough sleep in general.
Also, when you go to bed on a full stomach, leptin levels (the hormone that signals to you that you are full) cannot drop during the night like it is supposed to. Incidentally, leptin levels must drop low enough to signal HGH release (which, in turn, has to raise enough to stimulate cortisol release) so if you don’t get enough sleep the cascade of hormones that should release don’t. This leads to all kinds of issues including suppression of immune system, digestive issues and weight gain.
Better sleep solution #5: Eat dinner by 7pm (8 at the latest if it is a light dinner). Having a snack before bed if you are truly hungry can help keep you asleep but make sure it is a light one like a cup of hot cocoa or golden milk or a tablespoon of almond or peanut butter on two stalks of celery. It’s best to go to sleep when you are a little hungry not only for better quality sleep but also for the waistline.
Unless you have been living under a rock these past few years, you have heard about the benefit of intermittent fasting (though the prolonged IF’ing that body builders swear by is actually really terrible for women). The thing is, we are genetically programmed to all do intermittent fasting. It’s called night! Why do you think our morning meal is called ‘breakfast’? Get it? Break fast! Snacking and eating very late is a relatively new phenomenon. We are programmed perfectly to eat our last meal around sunset, get our sleep and then wake up and gather our food for breaking our fast.
Problem: Slapping the snooze button. We’ve all done it. You set the alarm for 6:30am doing the mental math that so long as you are up by 7am you can still get to work on time so you hit the snooze button 5 or 6 times. You think this gives you a few extra winks of sleep but, what you don’t realize is that ‘snooze’ time is very light sleep interrupted by the sound of the alarm the next time it alerts you to hit the snooze button! It isn’t extra sleep at all and can actually cause low level stress as the brain tries to wake up while the body fights to sleep.
Better sleep solution #6: Catch a few more ZZZZs. Set your alarm clock for 30 minutes later, put the alarm clock out of reach so you can’t reach the snooze button and let your body get a little more deep sleep!
Wishing you health, beauty, and transformation,
To learn more about how you can improve your sleep be sure and stay tuned for information on Project Transform Me a 12-week total transformation group coaching program split into two 6-week parts. The first 6 weeks we focus on the body, food and how to feel energized and vibrant. In the second 6 weeks we talk about forming keystone habits that create profound lasting change in all other areas of our life and begin to build the foundation towards the life of our dreams!