When you wake up in the morning, do you feel refreshed from another wonderful night’s sleep?
No? Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?
Then you need to read this blog post because I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!
The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing.
Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.
Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.
And I feel like so many of you ‘know’ this – but perhaps don’t fully appreciate just how important sleep is to your overall health and wellbeing.
People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.
Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)
I see so many of my clients exercising like demons and eating well, but because they’re surviving on 6 hours of sleep, they aren’t seeing any results.
Knowing this, it’s easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:
- To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” while we sleep.
- To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”. Dreams are a huge part of this, being our subconscious mind’s way of processing through our day.
- To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.
Do you know how much sleep adults need? It’s less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night. You probably know yourself what your magic number is… for me, it’s 8 hours. A night or two on less is manageable, but I’m not my best without that 8 hours of Z-time.
So how many hours of sleep do you get each night? Don’t worry if it’s less than 8, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below!
Tips for better sleep
- The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it. This means doing all you can to get that 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Seven. Days. A. Week! Sleep experts say that going to bed and waking up at around the same time every day (weekends included) is best. Obviously, there’s some flexibility here – I work out 3 mornings a week so I am up at 5:20am… so those nights I make sure I am in bed a little earlier and I also try to trade sleep ins with hubby on the weekend (best happy marriage advice right there!)
- Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fibre). Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack). Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat. I have lots of other blog posts on nutrition and healthy diets – so check out HERE and HERE for more advice.
- During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it’s daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
- Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimising. Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!)
- Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before you go to bed (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, turning off the TV, laptop, phone etc and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath. Those bright lights mess with our sleep hormone, Melatonin, and make our brains think it’s still daytime. I really doubt people had as much sleep troubles before electricity was invented!
There are 5 key pillars to health… and while we are all unique beings, these still apply to EVERYONE! And it’s these 5 pillars that, as a Clinical Nutritionist & Naturopath here in Newcastle, I am helping you with.
You’ve likely guessed that SLEEP is one of these pillars. If you’re not sleeping well, alarm bells go off in my brain and I make sure we fix that asap!! Often, I’ll send people off with a plan (and natural medicines) to get them having a rejuvenating 8 hours of quality sleep EVERY NIGHT so they wake feeling refreshed and amazing. Then, once the sleep is sorted, we work on all the other stuff – which has often improved just because they are now sleeping so well!
So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?
Recipe (for your afternoon “coffee break” also yummy as an after-dinner cuppa):
Caffeine-Free Chai Latte
- 1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
- 2 cups of boiling water
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
- 2 dates (optional)
Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.
Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.
Blend until creamy.
Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavour combination you like the best. Cashew butter anyone?