Sleep, energy and weight loss are three of the most talked about health challenges of which we all desire to have more. If only we could just snap our fingers and get what we want. Advertising inundates us with magic bullets to help us get there. Many of us wouldn’t be reaching for so many quick fixes if we all just had more and better sleep on a consistent basis.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to never underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep. Even at 35 years young, my body does not bounce back as quickly after a race or tough workout. Sleep can be the maker or breaker of our outlook on life. It gives us the stamina to get through stress and long days, and to perform at our peak, mentally and physically.
Thankfully, I’ve been blessed that I have never had to experience any major sleep issues. I’ve never battled with insomnia, sleep apnea or night tremors. And I know people who do and can’t even begin to know what they experience day in and day out. I fall asleep easily and typically aim for 7-8 hours BUT what I have trouble with is getting RESTFUL sleep! Have you thought about the last time you’ve dreamed? Many of us just don’t dream anymore and I’m not talking in the literal sense (although that isn’t happening enough for people either these days). I am referring to the dreams we have at night, when our bodies are so at rest in deep REM sleep, otherwise known as dream sleep when our brain is active. This is healthy becomes it happens right after the restorative sleep period that we ABSOLUTELY need to function the next morning.
Sleep is such a huge issue for so many. This is a great infographic from IDLife, a health and wellness movement that I support and appreciate for the value its brought to my health. We try to find solutions–through things like prescription sleep medications–that simply aren’t sustainable for the long-term. So let me ask you, are you getting enough sleep? Whether you are someone who has serious battles with bedtime, can’t remember the last time you dreamed, or struggles with feeling rested the next day, we can all strive for better sleep!
I’ve culled together some tips that can help you perform at your best. So whether you are an athlete, a busy parent, a working professional, an all-nighter college student, or someone approaching or already in those more senior years of life there are simple sleep tips that we can all benefit from as part of a daily routine. Many of these will sound familiar but my guess is that most of you haven’t done the follow-through. Try one a week and continue to build with an additional one into the following week. Soon you’ll be setting some new habits and sleeping like a baby!
- Set a bedtime routine:
- Two hours before bed time stop eating (and at least thirty minutes stop drinking water).
- Thirty minutes to an hour before bed time turn off all electronic devices. I also do things like read for 10 minutes before bed or listen to a 10-minute bed time meditation exercise (HeadSpace is the app I use). These activities are all helpful for slowing down the body and mind and preparing for sleep.
- Go to bed and wake up around the same time each day.
- Look into supplements like melatonin (did you know that as you age your levels decline, especially after the age of 40) that can help with sleep. I recommend trying IDLife’s sleep strips–a minty strip that melts on your tongue and includes L-Theanine, 5HTP, and Melatonin to offer a tri-phasic approach to help you fall asleep, stay asleep and achieve a restful, restorative deep sleep. I guarantee you’ll start dreaming again!
- Exercise: Incorporate an exercise routine that you find enjoyable. Your body will appreciate rest all the more when you worked your muscles!
- Eat balanced: I could go into a whole other blog post about foods we choose to put into our mouths. My simple tip here is to listen to your body and your cravings, but do so in a way that doesn’t compromise your exercise habits. Everything is connected so if we are eating poorly (and late at night before bed) our body may not process those foods as easily which could in turn lead to a lot of tossing and turning and running to the bathroom when we should be sleeping.
As you begin setting healthy habits you’ll find that your body will love you so much more. Your energy and weight loss/maintenance goals will start to improve and you may find your stress levels melt away!
In addition to my quick tips, my friends at Casper Mattress (your source to learn more about sleep technology and research) developed this great guide that includes sleep tips for athletes, benefits of each sleep cycle for recovery and other interesting statistics.
Remember sleep is there for a reason. We need it to help us become the best version of ourselves! So get to it…sleep like a champion tonight and wake up ready for your best workout (and day) of your life!
I’d love to hear from YOU! Share your sleep tips in the comment box below. What have you struggled with and how have you improved sleep?