Sleepy Time

Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.  ~Thomas Dekker

We live in a go, go, go society. Everything has sped up and the options of things to do has really exploded since I was a kid, yet the number of hours in a day remains the same. So it makes sense that we often don’t sleep long enough or soundly enough most nights but

did you realize that getting too little sleep can actually cause major health issues?

Recently, I read an article about how getting too little sleep can cause significant issues in your body. The line that got my full attention talked about how a recent study found that four nights of sleep deprivation was “the equivalent of metabolically aging someone 10 to 20 years.” It went on to say “fat cells need sleep, and when they don’t get enough sleep, they become metabolically groggy,” meaning that the cells do their job much more sluggishly, leading to obesity and an increased risk of type II diabetes.

Now, I suspect that not many of us really need a scientific study to tell us that sleep is important to overall health and well-being yet how often do we skimp on the amount sleep we give our bodies each night? As a health coach, I am often asked about how someone begins to reverse this chronic lack of sleep pattern.

One place to begin is by keeping a regular sleep/wake up schedule (yes, including the weekend). Your body loves predictability and she can easily adapt to any schedule if it can be applied consistently seven days a week. Decide on a regular bed time (about eight hours before you would like to get up) and go to bed at that same time each night. In the beginning, it will be a challenge so try to go to bed a bit earlier every night for certain period until your reach your new “bed time.” This will ease you into the new schedule and help ensure that you’re getting enough sleep on a nightly basis. In the morning, get yourself out of bed at the same time each day. This will help to reset your body’s internal clock and will allow a new pattern to be created.

When you do go to bed, allow your bedroom to be the place where you sleep. That means eliminating distractions that stimulate your mind like watching television or surfing the web. Read a book, listen to soothing music or jot down what you are grateful for as a way to signal to your body and your mind that you are winding down and preparing for sleep. Also, minimize the noise, light and excessive hot and cold temperatures where you sleep and keep any other stimulus in that space to a bare minimum.

Another thing that you can do to prepare you body to get a good night’s sleep is to not drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed and minimize daytime intake. Did you know that the half-life of caffeine in your body is about six hours? That means that if you have a big cup of coffee around 3:00pm, at 9:00pm half of the caffeine from that coffee is still coursing though your body. You may be able to get to sleep but that remaining caffeine in your system will keep your body from dropping into the deeper levels of sleep, missing out on some of the benefits of deep sleep. Then you wake up not feeling alert and alive but groggy and tired… which leads to the “need” for caffeine throughout the day and the cycle continues day after day after day.

Yes, there is lots to do, to watch, to read, to consume in this go, go, go world but you have only one beautiful body and she needs you to help her get the rest she needs to live your very best life.

Why not love yourself that well and become protective of the amount of sleep that you get?

More than anyone, you are worth it.