What if I told you that you can lose weight without changing what you eat or exercising?! Would you think that’s crazy? Well, don’t get me wrong: Nutrition and exercise are important to our health! But there’s a key to weight loss that most people don’t even know about it.
You’re not going to believe it…
Sleep is the most important thing you can do for your health besides eating a whole food, nutrient-dense diet. Research has uncovered that sleep deprivation can make you fat, lead to depression, increase the perception of pain, worsen heart disease, diabetes, and much more! I mean — really — this is HUGE!
Your body is governed by a series of biological rhythms synced with the light and darkness of day and night. These rhythms keep you healthy and trigger a cycle of hormone production, including melatonin and growth hormone, so your body gets time for healing, repair, and growth. We now know that the cycle is integral in everything from repairing our DNA, building tissues and muscle, to regulating weight and neurotransmitters (mood managing chemicals). When your rhythms are disturbed by poor or inadequate sleep, disease gets the upper hand and things start to break down.
It is estimated that 70 percent of Americans are sleep deprived.
When sleep is off, cortisol rises. Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the Adrenal glands and, in small quantities at the right time, it’s helpful. But, in excess, its effects are harmful and include brain damage and dementia, weight gain, diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, depression, osteoporosis, depressed immunity, and countless more.
Eight hours of quality, restful sleep is what most of us need, but meeting this goal is difficult, if not impossible with our busy, connected lives. Sleep hygiene is not something that comes easily when we’ve got LED clocks, TV’s and Cell Phones in the bedroom. The good news is that there are clearly defined strategies that support healthy sleep.
Here is what you need to do to help restore your natural sleep rhythm. The process is all about making sleep a priority. You will not see immediate results, but in a month or two you should be able to reset your biological rhythms:
- Practice regular sleep patterns – this means you should go to bed and wake up at the same time each day
- Make your bed a place for sleep and romance only – reading and television watching should be done in another room
- Use soft colors and textures in your bedroom and get rid of clutter so your sleeping space is restful
- Create total darkness and quiet – consider using eyeshades and earplugs
- Skip the caffeine – studies show that it makes your sleep worse, even if you drink it early in the day
- Avoid alcohol – as your body works to process and eliminate the toxins in alcohol, you can expect interruptions in your sleep
- Sweat and Sunlight! Aim to enjoy at least 20 minutes of both every day. Daylight signals your brain to release hormones like melatonin that are vital to good sleep, mood, and aging. One caveat: don’t exercise after dinner. Your body will be enjoying a boost of energy at a time when you should be winding down for sleep!
- Close the kitchen! Don’t eat within 3 hours of your bedtime. The digestive process can mean difficulty going to sleep and staying asleep.
- Write it out. About an hour before bed, write down anything that is on your mind. Write about any plans you have for tomorrow. This exercise helps you push worry and task-oriented thinking to the side so you can move into deep, restful sleep
- Get in the tub. Taking an Epsom Salt bath helps raise your body temperature before bed, which can induce sleep. A hot bath relaxes your muscles and reduces tension. Add two cups of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) and two cups of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to your bath; both help with sleep. You will reap the benefits of magnesium absorbed through your skin and the alkaline effects of the baking soda
- Warm your belly. Use a hot water bottle or a heating pad to gently warm your abdomen about thirty minutes before bed. This raises your core temperature and triggers sleep
- Explore herbal therapies – passionflower tea or tincture, or valerian root extract (standardized to 0.2 percent valerenic acid) as directed on the label, about one hour before bed
- Mag. 200 to 400 mg of magnesium citrate or glycinate before bed can help relax the nervous system and muscles
- Chill out. Try a CD with relaxing music, meditation or guided imagery
- Aromatherapy. Put a few drops of therapeutic grade Lavender, Vetiver and Roman Chamomile into your diffuser and set it on a timer as you are trying to get to sleep. Subtle aromatherapy can help your body relax and trigger a calming physiological response.
If you continue to have poor sleep, check in with your doctor. Thyroid issues, hormonal imbalance and adrenal problems can all mess up your sleep. Your doctor will review your symptoms and determine if things need some deeper work. You can also grab some session time with me for energy work, aromatherapy or health coaching. Both can help tremendously to improve your quality of sleep!
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