Just about every single day, I hear someone somewhere say how tired they are. It almost feels like the standard response to “how are you?” these days.

Unfortunately, lack of sleep is all too common among more than just moms [parents] of young kids. And it doesn’t have to be. In fact, sleep is so important to your overall health. It’s tied to your mental health, your ability to cope with stress (toxic or emotional), your waistline, attitude and outlook on life, and happiness. And yet, so many people don’t do anything to help their sleep improve.

In January of 2014, the CDC declared incufficient sleep as a public health epidemic. Most people are not getting sufficient sleep on a regular basis. The scary thing is that most people who don’t get enough sleep, are so used to it, that they just deal with being tired and cranky (and sick). It’s their norm.

Here are a few important things that happen while you sleep (and don’t happen if you don’t get enough sleep), making sleep one of the most productive things you can do for your health:

1. Muscles relax + blood supply to muscles increases

2. Tissue is repaired and restored. Your cells are repaired from toxic damage and free radicals.

3. Energy is restored at the cellular level

4. Hormones are released: growth hormones essential for growth and development (kids), as well as muscle growth

5. Cortisol drops at night, restoring energy to the brain and body and increase alertness in the morning

6. Balances hormones leptin and ghrelin to help supress appetite as well as alert fullness

7. Immune system is strengthened

Most of us realize sleep is important, but don’t know how to change current sleep habits. Here are a few things to try today + tonight to improve your chances of some good shut-eye (and cellular repair).

1. Drink most of your water before 3pm. 1/2 your body weight in ounces total per day, so drink most of it in the first part of the day. This will lessen how often you wake to use the restroom. sleep

2. Finish your last meal 2 or more hours before you go to bed. (see below)

3. Dinner should be your lightest meal and low-glycemic. Give your body a chance to repair your tissues while you sleep instead of focusing on digesting that heavy meal you at 15 minutes ago. Go light and low-gi at dinner time.

4. Quiet your mind 30 min to 1 hour before you go to sleep. Leave the iPad, phone, tv, and computer out of the bedroom. Watching tv or finishing up those last few emails right before you close your eyes hinders the body’s ability to produce melatonin efficiently.

5. Avoid EMF exposure. Turn your phone (if you have to have it nearby) in airplane mode or completely off. The electromagnetic field has been known to disrupt your body’s ability to relax. EMFs are considered a type of toxicity in our environment and the more you are exposed, the more potential health issues you may notice. Sleep disturbance being one of them. EMFs keep the brain awake and hinder the abilty to produce melatonin as well. If you can, be sure your electronic and wireless devices (including router) are not near or in your bedroom (or your kids’)!

Other useful tips:

6. Practice low-glycemic eating always. Improve your body’s ability to cope with stress while awake and you will lower your anxiety as you fall asleep.

7. Add high-quality antioxidants to your diet. Assist your body in repairing damage from toxins in our food and environment.

8. Keep your room slighter cooler at night can help you fall asleep faster.

9. Make sure your room is dark. The light from a nightlight or hallway light is confusing to your body and hinders it from completely falling asleep. If you do wake in the night, the best light bulb to have is a soft red light as a nightlight. This helps the brain stay in a sleepy state.

10. Decrease your caffeine intake all day. Practice having no caffeine 8 hours before bed to start.

I hope these help you get better sleep tonight, have a healthier sleep routine and feel more rested and energetic in the morning. You may notice a few other health benefits as you perfect your sleeping patterns :-) Sleep is a form of self-care, so be sure to get enough zzzzzz’s :-)

 

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