Sleep is the great restorer.
It helps restore everything in our bodies. Our muscles, our skeleton, all our digestion, organ function, immune system – everything – has a chance to relax and recover.
Sleep also helps us regulate our metabolism.
This includes blood sugar and our insulin levels. Lack of sleep can make us gain FAT. Yep.
So how much sleep do you really need?
That is different for everyone, so you probably have an idea of how much is right for you and you may already know that it differs from what other people in your family may need.
If you are an athlete, you probably need even more.
Resting is when our muscles recover and grow. It’s not when you’re working out. It’s when you’re resting.
A study at Harvard Medical Center took a group of 21 men and women and guided them through a very controlled environment of wake and sleep cycle, along with their exact diets and exercise over a 5 week period. Soon they started to dial back on the amount of sleep, and move the times they were allowed to sleep so that it started to mimic jet lag or shift work.
The change in sleep times combined with lack of sleep, soon started to cause a change in the participants insulin levels. Within 3 weeks, they began to produce less insulin when they ate their meals. This change quickly became high enough to qualify them as being pre-diabetic! Within 5 weeks of having their sleep schedules disrupted, they had also lowered their metabolic rate by 8% !
Because sleep regulates our insulin levels, it also means we have a whole lot more cravings the next day after a bad night of sleep.
The later we stay awake, the higher our chances of obesity. Probably because it means less sleep overall, and the chance for those late night snacks you may not have otherwise.
Download the Sleep Log below… .because data can help you identify where you may be going wrong!
Here are some things to focus on to get a good nights sleep:
You’ve probably heard of your ‘circadian rhythm’; the schedule our bodies naturally follow that determines our sleep and eating cycles. This rhythm is internally driven by our Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) a large group of nerve cells located in our brain. This group of cells controls all of our bodies natural clocks and help everything run properly.
This system is run internally, but like many systems in our bodies, it can also be effected by outside sources.
Back when we were cavemen, we may have gone to bed when it got dark, and woken when it was light, giving us a very regular sleep schedule.
But now, with light bulbs, apple products and activities scheduled after dark, we override this schedule by changing our exposure to light! The amount of time we are exposed to light changes, and this throws off our circadian rhythm.
When light enters our eyes, and hits our optical nerve, the SCN, which is located nearby, picks up on those signals and are stimulated.
Daytime light is awesome. Get outside and get some daytime light!
Nighttime light… well that’s a whole lot different.
Getting light at night screws up our rhythm and can cause issues with our getting sleepy and getting a good night sleep once we fall asleep.
Here are some tips to reduce nighttime light:
- Close those blinds and get a dark room
- Shut off your electronics. Yep, even that ipad. This is super hard for people because typically they may have work to do in the evening on their laptop. Computers are great during the day; they are designed to mimic day light, keeping you alert and focused. But at night, it has the opposite effect that you want. If you can, dim the brightness of the screen and you can download this app to help adjust your computer screen for you.
- Apple’s latest iOS update includes a feature to change the lighting on your phone screen. Head to settings > display & brightness > Night shift
- Cover up or turn your alarm clock around.
Begin an evening ritual. Set up when you need to start ‘shutting down’ so you can be asleep in enough time that you get the amount of sleep you really need to function at your best.
Spend time before sleep working on something that doesn’t involve blue light (the type from the computer or tv), instead read, meditate or write in a journal. Although it may seem like a stretch right now, this shift in mindset before bed can not only help you sleep better, but can help with more mindset shifts for a healthy life.
Writing down everything on your mind in a big ‘brain dump’ before bed can help get things off your mind and on to paper, letting you rest easier.
Having white nose in the room can be a way to cut down on outside noise keeping your brain alert and allow you to begin relaxing. There are many apps you can use on your phone to create a variety of noises: rain, thunderstorm, traffic. Whatever sounds familiar to you and lets you sleep better. My favorite is by TMSoft. and I use that when I travel.
Another option is getting a sound machine. This is a pretty small DOHM sound machine. It is my favorite and I use it at home myself. It makes a huge difference and the sound fills the whole room.
Finally, if you have trouble sleeping, consider a few supplements that can help. You don’t have to take them every day, but just on days when you feel it’s particularly hard to relax and get ready for bed.
Chronic stress, evening light and a variety of other factors can lead to high cortisol and trouble sleeping. People suffering from this tend to have that late night energy spurt around 9 or 10pm. If this is you, try 200-300 milligrams of phosphatidylserine at dinner and right before bed.
Magnesium supplement helps relax muscles. If you are a night time jaw clamper, you may want to try 300-500mg of magnesium about an hour before bed. When you are at home, an espom salt bath is a great way to get magnesium transdermally.
Melatonin is especially useful when traveling, as it can help re-set your body clock and help regulate blood sugar. Take 5 mg, an hour before bed but this should only be taken a few days at a time. It’s not something you should take regularly.
Sleepworks; One of my favorite travel sleep aids is sleep works. It’s a combination of supplements in an easy drinkable bottle dose. it’s got zinc and melatonin along with magnesium to help you get a really good sleepy feeling and I’m never groggy in the morning!
- Be aware of light as it get closer to bed time, shutting off light one hour before you want to be sleeping.
- Prep for 7 hours of sleep.
- Read, journal, meditate before bed to get relaxed.
- Get a sound machine to block outside noise.
- Take supplements to help your body relax
Good night John boy! What do you do to help you sleep or slow down at night? If you’ve got any tricks share them in the comments below!
Grab the sleep log right here!