We all know that sleep matters. But do we really? Like, act-u-ally?
We can’t ignore the importance of sleep, and unfortunately in today’s gogogo world, we’ve become accustomed to functioning on little sleep. Some even wear it as a badge of honour. Guys, this needs to stop.
I think if more of us knew the depths of how fundamental sleep was, and how the lack of sleep causes us to sabotage our future health, we might not skimp out on it as much for the sake of the latest Netflix binge.
Why sleep matters.
In a nutshell, here’s some of the fundamental reasons you need to be getting a deep sleep every night, for an adequate amount of time.
Weight gain: Fewer hours of sleep increases the likelihood of weight gain and obesity. This is largely a hormonal issue. Shorter/poorer sleeps increase ghrelin (you’re “I’m hungry” hormone) and decrease leptin (the “I’m full” hormone”).
Thyroid Health is a concern for many nowadays. Getting inadequate sleep consistently can slow down your thyroid (aka your metabolism master) and contribute to conditions like Hypothyroidism, a common condition seen these days. Going to bed too late, caffeinating late in the day, and/or too much screen time late at night messes up your cortisol (stress hormone), which can have a direct effect on your thyroid.
Brain function: Inadequate sleep impairs your memory, problem solving and concentration skills. (1) Furthermore, sleep deprivation has been found to affect the brain in a way similar to alcohol intoxication. (2)
Heart Disease and Stroke Risk: Studies have found that getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis increases the likelihood of heart disease and stroke down the line. (3)
Immune function: Sleep is essential for proper immune health, and poor sleeps can drastically effect your immune system. Don’t just think of it as your likelihood to get a cold (although that matters too). If you’re consistently compromising your immune health, you can be increasing your likelihood of autoimmune conditions down the line, which are far more serious than just a cold . . .
Mental Health: It’s not surprising that getting inadequate sleep increases your susceptibility to stress, mood swings and mental apathy. The University of Pennsylvania found that subjects whose sleep was limited to 4.5 hours per night for one week were moodier, more stressed and mentally exhausted than their better-sleeping counterparts. The symptoms subsided when subjects slept longer (4). Again, this isn’t shocking.
Inflammation: Basically, poor sleep greatly increases inflammation in the body, and as inflammation (especially silent inflammation, inflammation that you don’t feel but is quiet and creeps up in the body) is linked to many many diseases, we want to do all we can to curb it!
SO! Geez that’s a lot of stuff. I’m sure you’re either bored, scared or exhausted from it. Probably need sleep? Yeah.
How to get a Better Sleep
So, how to get a better sleep? Here are some awesome hacks, no need to try them all at once, find what works for you . . . except the first 2, those do all at once . . .
Go to bed in a dark room, or wear a sleep mask - this maximizes your production of melatonin, your sleep hormone.
Try to get to bed by 10pm. A lot of the body’s healing and recuperating happens between 10pm and 2am. I consider these crucial hours. 7-8 hours of sleep is ideal.
Calming teas with peppermint, lavender, chamomile, catnip, valerian or lemon balm (NIGHTY NIGHT is a great one) an hour before bed.
Tart Cherry Juice (found at a health food store) has been shown to help induce sleep. 1 tbsp. of the concentrate in water 1 hour before bed.
Melatonin is useful for some: 3 - 6mg under the tongue 45 minutes before bed.
Try to stop eating 3 hours before bed, so your body can use the time for recharging as opposed to digesting (food hangover). **If you are hungry before bed and know you won’t be able to seep as a result, have a banana or sweet potato half an hour to an hour before bed. Easy to digest and they can help you sleep (see point below).
If you are trying to lose weight and are limiting your carbs, save your carbs for NIGHT TIME. It will help you sleep. Things like quinoa, brown rice or even a banana can help your quality of sleep.
Install FLUX on your computer - this will help block the “blue light” that can interfere with your natural production of melatonin. After the sun goes down it will change the colour of your screen to an orange colour, and gradually get darker and darker before bed.
iPhone Users: Turn the “Night Shift” ON after 5pm. This is available on the pop-up dock that appears when you swipe up from the bottom of your screen.
Try to treat your sleep as something extremely valuable -- because it is. And your future self will thank you.
To a better sleep my friends!