Could your lack of GOOD sleep be the cause of your health problems?


Hi y’all! I hope this post finds you feeling rested and ready to tackle the week. I’m guessing, though, that there’s a chance you’re feeling like you just want to crawl back into bed and wake up on Friday. Haha!

Now, you’ve heard my thoughts on exercise, eating right, taking care of yourself emotionally, mentally and spiritually, but the one thing we haven’t really talked about yet is one thing we all really love: SLEEP.

More Powerful Than Any Drug

The one thing so many of us hunger for and lust after, and yet it’s the one thing that tends to elude many of us on a regular basis. The culprit can be anything from a newborn baby to intense anxiety to a cold or an achy body.

do-not-disturbWe all know that we feel, er, sub-optimal, when we don’t get enough sleep, but have you been reading any of the new studies or articles on the effects of insufficient sleep?

In Time magazine’s recent article, they said that sleep is “more powerful than any drug in its ability to restore and rejuvenate the human brain and body.”

Whaaaaaaaaat? I mean, we all know that sleep’s important, but those are some BOLD words! Go figure they go on to say that sleep is really only that potent if we get enough of it. So that begs the question:

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

I think it’s a fair assessment to say that (particularly for those of us with kids), we’re so vigilant about making sure our kids get enough sleep, but what about us parents?

Sleeping PuppyThe general recommendation is to get 8 hours of sleep. I know some people who are super alert with far less, and I know some who are less than their best selves when they sleep any less than 9-10 hours.

Once upon a time, when I was trying to figure out how to balance my workouts AND sleep (not cutting my sleep unnecessarily short just so I could squeeze in a workout), I found a REM cycle calculator that tells you when you should be going to bed after you plug in the time you need to wake up.

They say that when we feel groggy in the morning, it’s likely because we’re waking up in the middle of a “sleep cycle,” so that’s where this kind of calculator can come in handy. (I know it sounds hokey, but I was shocked by the difference it made when I started using it.)

How Well Do You Listen to Your Body?

We’re living in a world where drugs are so readily administered, that it’s pretty darn frightening. I personally am a big advocate for trying a holistic approach first, but I can see why some people shy away from it. Why? Because you need to get in touch with yourself to figure certain things out.

Exhausted WomanMy friend Faith (who wrote the PiYo review) has a chronic lung condition, so she’s acutely aware of what’s going on with her body. She told me that her priority list puts SLEEP FIRST and then working out 5 days a week. If she doesn’t get her 7-9 hours of sleep, she WON’T workout, and she loves working out, so that’s a doozy.

To hear her tell it, the reason she decided to put sleep first is because the times when she’s had the worst health problems have also coincided with the times when she was trying to be superwoman by piling too many things on her plate AND cutting her sleep back to only 6 or so hours per night so she could get up in the morning and still squeeze in a workout.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if my body started screaming at me to let me know something was wrong, I think I too would make that change! Unfortunately, though, I don’t think all of us are as in tune with their inner world, if you will.

Are Any of These Keeping You Awake?

Caffeine: This is an easy place to begin since almost all of us have caffeine in one form or another. For me, I’m not all that sensitive. However, I know some who are super sensitive to caffeine and can’t drink a cuppa caffeinated goodness later than 9/10 a.m. if they want to get to sleep by 10/11. If you’re tossing and turning without being able to turn off all the chatter in your head at night, how late did you have your daily caffeinated fix?

snoring-2Noise: Are you a light sleeper or do you share the bed with a snorer? Invest in some ear plugs! If you’re a side sleeper, don’t put them in both ears — just put one in the ear that’s not mushed into the pillow so you don’t make yourself unnecessarily uncomfortable. Or, if you absolutely can’t wear ear plugs, try going to bed before your snoring partner does to see if you can fall deeply asleep before they begin their nightly sawing.

Exertion: Are you working out enough? Study after study has shown that the quality of sleep (and the ability to get to sleep) goes waaaaay up when people are consistently working out. I’m not talking a marathon every week, folks. I’m talking about your daily dose of 20-30+ minutes of exercise. On the days when I have my hardest workouts, I usually enjoy the sleep of the innocents.

Light: This may sound odd, but if you’re always up as soon as the sun shines in through your window, is the glowing light from your alarm clock (that’s angled right into your eyes from your nightstand) or the ambient light from a streetlight outside possibly affecting your ability to fall asleep?

Sugar: You may also think I’m a wee bit off my rocker with this one, but if you eat sweets (i.e. candy bars, donuts, Pop-Tarts, etc.) and you eat them late at night, don’t be surprised if your brain’s a bit more wired than it would have been otherwise.

All in all, my whole point is this: Listen to your body! It will tell you what you need to do if you listen closely enough. I’m not saying “never have caffeine” — I’m just saying to listen to your body and experiment with the times when you drink that caffeinated beverage. You know? Listen to your body, experiment with these things, and find our what works for you!

If nothing else, try exercising first and I think you’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll sleep.

Your Turn!

What tools do you use to ensure you get a good night’s sleep? Have you found something you swear by? You know I’d love to hear from you!

Also! Here’s the link to the Time magazine article I was telling you about if you want to read it for yourself!

Author: Michelle Whitley

Wife. Mother of 5 Boys. Entrepreneur. Health and Fitness Coach. Lover of living a life of full potential.

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