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10 Strategies for Better Sleep

In my last article, I covered the importance of getting enough sleep and the 4 common causes of sleeping problems. I also recommended some products that may help resolve this issue.

In this article, I'd like to talk about two sleep motivators and the 10 strategies for better sleep.

Science has discovered that certain enzyme systems that aren’t active during the day turn on during deep sleep stages. Deep sleep is when the body synthesizes neurotransmitters and the molecules that are the building blocks of important steroid hormones.

They also found that there are shifts in cellular metabolism that facilitate the clearance of toxic substances in the brain that may be associated with Alzheimer’s and the degeneration of important centers of the brain.

Sleep is restorative – not only to how we feel – but to our body AND brain.

If you are not getting 8 hours of sleep, start now with one baby step. This week, commit to getting in bed ½ hour earlier. Then go from there.

Sleep Motivators Here are facts that may help you be motivated to get enough sleep.

  • Sleep repairs damaged skin

“Your skin has a chance to repair itself overnight. Without enough deep sleep, the skin can’t properly undo daily damage.”

Missing your beauty rest spells disaster for your skin. New research from the Sleep School in London found that missing just two hours of sleep for less than a week can have a serious impact on your physical appearance.

In the study, 30 women across the U.K. (including a supermodel) all slept eight hours for one night and then restricted their sleep to six hours a night for the next five nights.

Researchers tested their skin for issues like enlarged pores or brown spots, and also photographed them before and after sleep deprivation.

After just a workweek’s worth of lost sleep, on average, the women in the study saw fine lines and wrinkles increase by 45 percent; spots increased by 13 percent; bacteria on the skin increased 16 percent; and red and brown areas popped up 8 percent and 11 percent more, respectively.

Other research has found similar results: eyes were more red and swollen, skin was droopier, and they had more wrinkles.

  • Sleep regulates appetite

“Studies find that depriving people of sleep raises their blood levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite, and lowers their blood levels of leptin, a hormone that inhibits appetite.”

There is substantial evidence from several studies that show sleep deprivation leads to an increase in food intake. In just one study, men and women who weren’t allowed to sleep more than 5 hours a night for two weeks ate 220 more calories a day from snacks – and especially at night – than they did when they got more than seven hours of sleep per night.

The hormone ghrelin was responsible! No sleep, more ghrelin, more weight gain.

Sleep is when the body repairs, grows, regulates our emotions, and controls our appetite — so it’s hardly surprising that it has a strong impact on our entire body.

10 Strategies for Better Sleep

1. Keep a sleep journal for 2 weeks. Keep track of what time you went to bed, how many hours you slept, generally how you slept (did you wake up? how many times? what time did you wake up? did you toss and turn? did you go right to sleep?). Also, keep a food journal along with it. I can promise you, you will often see a pattern emerge that will give you a clue as to where to start.

2. Exercise regularly - but not 2 hours before going to sleep. Exercise increases the amount of energy you use, increases the amount of endorphins, the “feel good hormone” your body produces and helps to balance body temperatures. All of these factors help to create a more peaceful sleep. However, experts recommend avoiding a vigorous work out too late in the day as it can rev you up too much. Stretching for 10 -15 min is perfect before bed. It gets the muscles stretched, warmed and ready to relax.

3. Avoid eating large meals just before going to sleep. Research has found that If you eat moderate to heavy meal at late evening, your metabolism revs up for several hours trying to digest this food and will prevent you from falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Eating late at night and then going to bed can be a recipe for acid reflux and heartburn which can keep you awake with its very uncomfortable symptoms.

4. Avoid caffeinated beverages, particularly after lunch. According to Thomas Roth, Chief of Sleep Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, caffeine affects sleep by interfering with a compound in the brain – adenosine – (a-din-o-seen) that pushes us to sleep. He also says that even 200 mg of caffeine consumed at 7 am can affect our sleep at 11:00 PM, taking more time to fall asleep! Even though a person may be able to drink coffee late in the day and have no issue falling asleep, the caffeine is still having its effect.

5. Avoid the use of alcohol and nicotine as these substances can disrupt sleep. Roth also says that alcohol will put you to sleep quickly for the first two hours but after two hours, the body starts to clear the alcohol from our system, The liver does a “dumping” at night and you experience a hyped up feeling. Some people will wake up with a rapid heartbeat and almost a shaking feeling and either they can’t go back to sleep or their sleep will become more fragmented, waking up briefly and repeatedly and returning to sleep with difficulty. As we age, we metabolize things slower, so while maybe 10 years ago, what didn’t bother you will start to bother you now! This goes for alcohol, nicotine and caffeine. And one note : these 3 things dramatically exacerbate Restless Leg Syndrome or RLS.

6. Maintain a regular sleep/wake schedule whenever possible, even on weekends and vacations.

Create a ritual around your sleep. Being consistent reinforces your sleep/wake cycle.

7. Avoid napping during the day, especially after 3pm. Limit naps to less than 1 hour.

As we have already talked about, napping too much in the daytime can make it harder to get good sleep at night.

8. Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine.

Begin to slow down with relaxing techniques like stretching, light reading or listening to relaxing music. In two small studies, a warm soaking bath before bed helped people have deeper sleep. Have a comfortable, supportive mattress and pillow and make your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. Use earplugs or a fan – or whatever suits your needs.

9. And for those of you who are married, intimacy and intercourse are a huge help to good sleep.

There’s science to back it up, too. “It all has to do with hormone production during intercourse”, says Saralyn Mark, M.D., associate professor of medicine and OB/GYN at the Yale School of Medicine. “See, sex boosts the production of oxytocin (which helps you and your darling bond) and decreases the production of cortisol (which induces stress). These hormonal changes leave your body in a relaxed state, making it easier for you to fall asleep.” Not only that, but estrogen levels also increase, which can enhance a woman’s REM cycle for a deeper sleep, according to a previous study published in the Journal of Women’s Health.

10. Consider tried and true nutritional supplements and herbs that can help improve sleep.

Treatment for sleep problems can vary. Some can be treated with medicines, while others can be managed with lifestyle changes and using safe and natural approaches like the ones mentioned above.

If you’ve been having a hard time getting or staying asleep for a while, it might be time to schedule an appointment with a health care provider who will take the time to listen to you before reaching for the prescription pad.

Sleep issues can be complicated and tied to other aspects of your health, so it’s best to talk it over with your primary care provider if it happens more than occasionally.

If you have some questions or concerns, please set an appointment for a quick phone call so I can help you better. You can set an appointment with me on the link below, or you can also reply to this email with a time most convenient to you.

I am looking forward to meeting with you soon!

Many Blessings and make it a great day!

Renee VanHeel

Call or text: 858-472-7295 Book a 15 minute free health consultation with me

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