Getting Your ZZZZZ’s
Not getting enough zzz’s last night means your energy levels could be low, but your appetite won’t be…. ironic huh?
Chronic sleeplessness (running on 6 hours of sleep or less) can lead to weight gain, low energy and health risks. “When you don’t get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep, the two hormones that regulate food intake, leptin and gherlin, are knocked out of whack, which kicks your appetite into over drive,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., FITNESS advisory board member and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
I can relate – when I get less than 7-8 hours of sleep per night, I’m tired, cranky and HUNGRY! Here’s why: When we’re tired, our body knows that FOOD gives us the energy we’re depleted of. So, it tries to “help us” by “adjusting” the following two hormones – leptin and gherlin. It lowers the leptin (our satiety hormone) and raises gherlin, our hunger hormone – think of a hungry GREMLIN in your body :-( It does everything perfectly – which makes us want to EAT. If we had of only gotten enough sleep, our body wouldn’t have tried to help us, and so effectively!
In addition, sleep is crucial to our health. During the night, the body regenerates and renews all the bodily systems and organs, clears toxins, regulates hormones and the mind consolidates memory. When you get too little sleep consistently, you put your entire body and health at risk, feel exhausted, over-eat, under-exercise (who feels like exercising when you’re dead tired), cope less well with stress, can’t think clearly and are less patient with friends/family – I know from personal experience :-)
So how can you we get enough and solid sleep in our busy lives?
- Determine what is the ideal amount of sleep for you – what makes you feel the best – usually between 7-9 hours per night. For me, I know about 8 hours is great – so I sleep between 10 pm – 6 am or 11 pm – 7am.
- Put it in your calendar (just like exercise) and DECIDE (that’s all it takes) that you’re going to go to sleep at that time. Let your family know that you’re introducing a new health habit and would love their support.
- Start winding down 1 hour before your bedtime. If I decide to go bed at 10 pm, I know that I want to be “winding” down at 9 pm the latest. Brushing my teeth, washing my face, getting my gym clothes/water organized for the next day (10 min total) and especially the following: reading or journaling or doing something that is pleasurable before I go to bed – “me” time. If I don’t do this, I feel like I’m always working and I don’t have energy when I wake up…b/c my body wanted me to take some “me” time before starting work the next day. Create your own “ritual” at night that you look forward to….what ever it is for you… aromatherapy/music, reading, watching a light comedy on TV, talking to your significant other, etc.
- Don’t work in bed or watch action/adrenalin producing TV shows. Images that shift quickly stimulate the brain AND you’ll dream about whatever you watch right before you go to sleep – so put good things into your mind right before you go to sleep.
- Make sure your room is dark enough for good sleep (darkness helps the pineal gland to produce melatonin which increases drowsiness) and cool enough (the ideal temperature for sleeping is about 64 degrees, according to the Better Sleep Council).
- If you have trouble falling asleep – try USANA’s Pure Rest Melatonin – a natural, non addictive sleep aide. I love it – it tastes like orange Vitamin C :-) If you have Restless Leg Syndrome or exercise a lot – take your USANA Chelated Minerals and USANA Active Calcium right before you go to bed. The magnesium in both help relax muscles and promote sleep.
- Additional Ideas: When I lived in downtown Denver on train tracks, I used a Wave Sound Machine and a humidifier (it’s very dry in Denver). Living in California, I no longer need the former, but I still keep water by my bed if I wake up thirsty and for the nights that I may still be “wound” up, I lay on my back and relax my body from my toes to my head. Thinking of your favorite memories is another way to fall asleep… Our brain can only think ONE thought at a time – so if you are thinking stressful thoughts, your body will tense up. If you “remember” pleasant memories and situations, your muscles will relax – and voila – sleep!
Live Well Challenge: DECIDE to get 7-9 hours of sleep for the next 7 days. See how it makes you feel. Does it change your energy, appetite, fitness, mental outlook, mood, skin, stress levels, competency, and coordination, etc. Note any changes and commit to doing what makes YOU feel the best. This is YOUR life. Decide to take charge…no one else is going to do it for you :-)
Be Happy… Be Vibrant…