Are you a sleeping 7 hours or less a night?
YES? Unless you fall into a VERY RARE category of “short sleepers” (those who have a mutated gene which makes sleep time very efficient and affects your circadian clock), you simply are not doing any favors for your body. According to the Cleveland Clinic, not getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night can greatly impact your hormone balance, memory and focus, rest and restore ability of the body and even cause relationship stress. But those are just the short term effects. Long-term effects of sleep loss and disorders have been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, heart attack, depression, hypertension, stroke, etc. So, unless you plan to continue down this road of poor health, then it’s time to make change happen!
Here are a few SLEEP HACKS to get you started!
Create an unwind schedule.
As humans, we are creatures of habits. By developing your own bedtime routine, you will enable your mind and body to turn off the sympathetic (fight or flight) system and switch over to the parasympathetic (rest and digest) system. So turn off all of your devices, put down your to-do list, and slow down. Instead, adopt habits that truly allow your rest and digest mode to kick in high gear. Try soaking in the bath, reading a book, meditating, journaling or listening to relaxing music. All you have to do is sit back and relax!
Cultivate a sleepy environment.
Research shows that a room free of disruptive noise, excess light and warm temperatures can have a positive impact on the sleep you get. To lessen the noise in your bedroom, close all of the doors, opt for simple soundproofing like placing a rug under your bed if you have hardwoods and turn on a white noise machine to drown out any extra background noises. Make sure you turn off and unplug any light-illuminating electronics in your room, as well as close the blinds, opt for blackout curtains blinds to eliminate any outside light and use a comfortable eye-mask if necessary. Lastly, turn down the thermostat between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stick to a Regular Exercise Routine.
Afternoon exercisers who participate in moderate to vigorous exercise typically experience an increase in body temperature. When that temperature drops, the body is naturally in a restful state. This is great news for those who like to get in a workout in after work. Do not worry though, if you are a morning exerciser, there are benefits for you too. Exercise has been shown to decrease symptoms of stress and anxiety which are a result of the fight or flight mode. This opens the door for rest and digest mode to turn on in order to get some Zzz’s at night.
Go to bed by 10pm.
Endocrinologists (hormone doctors) claim that one hour of sleep between 10pm and 2am is equal to 2 hours of sleep before and after these times. Moreover, the body’s stress hormone, cortisol, is regulated at midnight. So those of you who go to bed late at night are not allowing your body a break from the sympathetic response of fight or flight. This constant fight or flight mode has been contributed to the Stress Epidemic in America.
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– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC
Health Advisor | Email Casey