We all know diet and exercise are important factors in improving our health, but did you know sleep also plays a significant role in weight loss, heart health, and overall healthy living?
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a good night’s sleep can not only effect one’s emotional and mental well-being, but one’s physical health too.
Sleep allows the body to repair and heal itself, this includes the repair of the heart and blood vessels. When you don’t allow yourself to get enough sleep – typically between 7-9 hours, according to the American Sleep Foundation*, the body doesn’t get a chance to repair these structures, thus the body, over time, may become at risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and stroke*.
Sleep deprivation can also cause obesity. This is because sleep helps to regulate hormone function. When sleep deprivation occurs, hormones may shift. This can result in feeling more hungry than you actually are, and/or craving foods high in carbohydrates because your body is seeking to consume energy (calories) to stay awake and function. Sleep also effects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone which controls blood sugar levels. Overtime, if your insulin levels are unbalanced, one may become insulin resistant, which could lead to type 2 diabetes.
So how to we fix this? Well, here are our top 5 tipsto help you stop tossing and turning and get some good zzz’s:
1) Restrict artificial light at night – at least 2 hours prior to bed.
In a world where we are tied to our smartphones, TVs, etc. we are constantly surrounded with artificial, or blue, light. This artificial light can actually trick our brains into thinking it’s still light outside, which inhibits melatonin production, a vital hormone which helps induce sleep.
2) Keep your bedroom cool and dark.
Try installing black out shades and setting the A/C to a comfortable temperature.
In order to fall asleep (and stay that way!), the body’s core temperature must cool down in order to aid blood flow, which allows the body to repair and heal itself. Keeping your bedroom cool will help get your body’s core temperature down easier and faster, helping you catch those necessary zzz’s.
3) Manage your stress during the day.
We’ve all been there. Lying in bed, wide awake thinking about that meeting at work, that conversation with a loved one, that fight earlier in the afternoon. To help unwind and get the body – AND mind, ready for bed, most experts advise implementing yoga or meditation into your daily routine to help deal with daytime stressors!
*Looking for an app to help guide you through a quick meditation or help you relax? Try The Mindfulness App, Headspace, or Calm on Apple or GooglePlay!
4) Exercise and get plenty of light during the day!
Getting out in the sunshine during the helps balance hormones, which can help with falling asleep faster at night! Along with that, exercise has been shown incredibly helpful in falling asleep – and has been shown in many studies to be as effective as taking sleeping pills!
5) See your doctor.
If you are dealing with chronic insomnia, sleep apnea, and other sleep related issues, schedule an appointment with your doc to help address any possible underlying issues. They may be able to suggest natural supplements or lifestyle changes (in addition to those listed above), which may help to improve your sleep hygiene!
Life is too short to feel groggy and tired! Try out these tips and let us know how you feel. It may take time to create and develop some necessary lifestyle changes to help get you back in balance, but you cannot underestimate the power of sleep 🙂