Alarm clock goes off.. snooze.. five minutes later.. snooze again..
Sound familiar? You aren’t alone. There aren’t too many people I talk to who wake up at the first sound of their morning alarm. I’m even guilty of it myself at times. It’s hard not to get “just 5 more minutes”. But what you don’t know, is that you are actually doing yourself more harm than good. When I think about the amount and quality of my sleep, in addition to whether I hit the snooze button that morning, I have realized that I feel the most rested and have the most energy when I get between 7-8 hours of solid sleep, with making my feet hit the floor as soon as my alarm goes off. Less than 7 hours, and I’m relying on caffeine to push through the day. More than 8 hours, and I just don’t even want to get out of bed. We all know we need more sleep, no one is going to argue that. The problem is that life is busy, without a doubt, and its only getting busier. A busy life means sacrificing other things that we think we can get by with less of.
Of course, we all know sleep is an amazing and necessary part of daily life- it helps us feel energized, be more alert, and stay healthy. But sleep affects so many things in your body, a lot of which people underestimate. Sleep regulates hormones, cortisol, weight, and mental well-being just to name a few. Your body cannot function to its full potential without a sufficient night of rest.
Below are a few interesting benefits of sleep:
I focus a lot on inflammation and doing everything to decrease inflammation in the body, as it is the root cause for a lot of chronic disease as well as increased risk for more serious conditions like stroke and heart disease.
Did you consider your sleep pattern? Sleep is a major component when trying to achieve health and weight loss goals.
When you sleep less, your body produces more ghrelin, your hunger hormone.
Ok so now you’re probably thinking- that all sounds great, but I still have a million things to do throughout the day and I still can’t figure out how to get more sleep. “If only there were more hours in the day” Something I hear too much, and I’ve even said it myself. Reality is, there are plenty of hours in the day, we just need to manage our time more efficiently. There are a multiple of small, yet extremely beneficial things you can do that will help you achieve a better night’s rest, all of which are listed below.
taking just a few minutes to wind down at the end of the night will help relax your body and mind. Focus on letting go of frustration or useless thoughts you may have had that day.
Just do it. All the photos on Instagram will still be there to “like” in the morning, and the status about your friends back east complaining about the cold will still pop up on your Facebook news feed tomorrow. Looking at our phone stimulates the brain, so putting down electronics 1 hour prior to bedtime helps our mind relax. Also, the blue light that emits from your phone, computer, I pad or TV interferes with your circadian rhythm.
This is an interesting concept. If you wake up every morning focusing on how many hours of sleep you got, instead of focusing on how you feel when rising, then you may find yourself always thinking “I only got X hours of sleep last night”. Instead of thinking that, ask yourself “Do I feel rested? Did I wake up several times throughout the night? Did I have a solid night sleep?”
Go to sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time. Regardless if it is during the week or the weekend, putting your body into a sleep routine will help your body achieve a better night’s rest, and you will feel the difference with energy, mood, alertness, etc.
Set an alarm for bedtime? Yep! I have a sleep reminder that alarms me on my phone every night at 10 pm. Am I in bed faithfully every night at 10? No, but it does make me get to bed sooner than I would have without the reminder.
Um, no. Just No. This is your body playing a trick on you. Yes, the alcohol will help you fall asleep quicker. But good luck getting a solid night of sleep and feeling rested the next morning. Gaba, which is your body’s natural relaxant, helps you achieve quality sleep. When alcohol is in your body, it uses up all of your body’s gaba, so it is difficult to stay asleep.
Notice, these strategies (with the exception of 5 minutes of yoga) require ZERO extra time, just a change in mindset and routine. If you know you need to improve your sleep patterns, which most of us do, try out by just incorporating one of these techniques in your daily routine. When you master that and it becomes part of your daily ritual, add another beneficial sleep habit. Use these tips as building blocks. Small individual goals one at a time can result in huge changes. Take it day by day, one sleep at a time.
Lindsey Morrison RN
PNC Nutrition Consultant