Pick up any magazine these days and you’ll most likely find some sort of article on sleep deprivation. They explain why its bad to lack sleep and and how to get more of it. We skim over them and think, “yeah, yeah… that’s me. I never have enough sleep but my life is so crazy that I just can’t”. I’m guilty of it too – especially during these summer months. The kids are not in school, we all stay up later, its too hot to sleep or we are falling asleep in front of the TV but for some reason, choose to torture ourselves and force ourselves to stay up.
I’ve always been a super early morning person. Its when I’m at my best. My oldest daughter is exactly the same. Up at the crack of dawn, chirping away and ready to take on the world. Then… I power out around 7:30pm. Literally, I don’t want to do a whole lot after that, which makes a social life a bit of a problem! I nickname myself “the granny”. My youngest daughter got her Dad’s sleep cycle… late nights and late mornings. At the age of 10, she will gladly stay up until midnight quietly reading in her room and then sleep until 11:00am the next day. School days are literally torture for her… hate is a strong word – but she HATES mornings.
The world tends to work around the early risers. Not so much for the late risers, unless you find the perfect profession to suit your needs. Then there are those on shift work… they are always the most sleep deprived of all. I don’t know how they do it. I’ve heard your body adapts but I honestly don’t think that mine ever would.
I would rate sleep as the number one priority when it comes to health, even before exercise and nutrition. Why? Because without sleep there is no foundation for anything else. When you go to the gym or try any type of exercise when you haven’t had a good night’s rest you don’t have the energy and in fact, you are more prone to injury. The body simply doesn’t perform well with sleep deprivation. Second, have you ever noticed what happens to your appetite when you haven’t had enough sleep? Do you crave carbs? Interesting, there are so many awesome new studies out there that are linking sleep deprivation to the hunger and appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin. There has now been several studies showing correlations between sleep deprivation and a higher Body Mass Index! Here is a link to some of the research!
Aside from physical performance and cravings when you’re tired, how’s your mental focus? Do you think you’re apt to put together a healthy, balanced meal when you haven’t even got the energy to focus on getting through the 800 emails sitting in your inbox? Probably not… too tired to cook a meal tonight, so lets eat out or order in.
So how can we get enough sleep? Well, as you know my favorite saying is practice makes perfect. We will all have nights where we have situations that we just can’t get enough. However, just like I’ve stated with exercise and nutrition and nurturing your SELF, sleep must become a priority. If you’re falling asleep on the couch watching TV, go to bed. If you know you have to be up early in the morning, go to bed earlier. PLAN your sleep as an integral part of your day. Keep your room dark and cool, do not watch TV in bed (TV’s should not be in any bedroom in my opinion), electronic devices (exception is an e-reader – but no checking email or Facebook!). Try some essential oil such as lavender.
If you happen to be like me and struggle with sleep, perhaps even insomnia there are things to try. Acupuncture is number one for me… I was a skeptic until my roommate in university told me to give it a try. Oh my goodness, it worked amazing. If only I had known earlier! Melatonin seems to work well for people, my daughter is one. But you must be careful to cycle on and off or it loses its effectiveness. There are lots of herbal remedies and teas to try as well. There is nothing worse than insomnia… so don’t feel that you need to suffer endlessly with it.
When the body is tired, nothing is as it should be. We don’t think straight, we can’t put full effort into our jobs, our families, our BODIES! So, make sleep your first priority!
Check out this great info-graphic on how sleep deprivation can affect the body!
Happy sleep to all of you! xo