Tips to Achieve Great Sleep
Updated: Feb 17, 2019
Do you ever struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep? Get less than 8 hours of sleep a night? Poor sleep quality causes issues with mental health, energy, and metabolism.
Sleep and Metabolism
Our metabolism is affected by sleep in a few different ways physiologically. First, the appetite suppressing hormone leptin is increased when we sleep. In one study, people who were sleep deprived showed a 19% reduction in leptin. This reduction in leptin is going to make you hungrier. At the same time, sleep deprived people also have an increase in the hunger hormone, gherlin. Due to this dual effect, if you are sleep deprived you will likely feel more hunger and thus, sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain. More than two dozen studies have associated chronic sleep of less than 8 hours per night with higher BMI. Beyond just weight, numerous studies have also shown a correlation between sleep problems and Type II diabetes. In order to avoid weight gain and reduce our risk of Type II diabetes, it is important to consider how we can improve our sleep.
The Institute for Functional Medicine offers some helpful suggestions for better sleep. Their suggestions involve tips for minimizing stimulants, reducing nighttime tension, planning for sleep, falling asleep and staying asleep, reducing environmental issues, bedding, and supplements. We need to think about practical things we can do in these areas to improve our sleep.
Minimizing caffeine can be a quick win for some people. Think about how much caffeine you are consuming throughout the day and in particular, what time you are having caffeine. I like to have clients do a trial eliminating caffeine for a couple of weeks and see if their sleep improves. If you decide to cut down on caffeine, reduce your consumption by half every day over 5 days to prevent getting a withdrawal headache. You can gradually transition to a non-caffeinated alternative like Reishi Roast, which has the added benefit of cancer preventing and immune supporting herbs like medicinal mushrooms and dandelion root. Reishi roast is available from Farmacopia and can be mixed with coffee grounds as you transition each day to less coffee. Here is the link to the product information page:
Prepare for Sleep
In this world of constant movement and the drive to succeed, it can be really tough to unwind at the end of the day. It is important to find ways relieve this tension before bedtime. If your thoughts are swirling around in your head, it can be helpful to grab your journal and jot down the thoughts on paper and then close the book and effectively put the thoughts to bed. I also find meditation or healing music can help to clear these thoughts and prepare the mind for slumber. There are some great YouTube recordings of crystal bowl meditations that can send you off to sleep in peace. Here is one you can try:
We can also consider sleep to be a part of day worthy of planning just like waking up or getting to work. As you look at your day, set aside 8-9 hours for sleep and make sure you leave room in your schedule for this rest. These hours of sleep should start before 11 pm because earlier sleep is more restorative than late-hour sleep.
Other activities can signal to your body that you are preparing for sleep. A nighttime ritual can prepare the body for rest and prevent insomnia. Your ritual could include taking a hot bath to relax your muscles and reduce tension or some restorative yoga poses. Supta Baddha Konasana is a perfect restorative pose for before bed. Read more about in the blog on Self Love:
Environmental issues can reduce sleep quality. Look around your bedroom and notice anything which might interfere with deep sleep. Is there any light or noise which might be waking you? Perhaps you could use some room darkening shades or a white noise machine to reduce outside sounds. Electromagnetic fields in the room can disturb your sleep. Find a place to keep your cell phone for the night which is at least 8 feet away from you to avoid impact from the electromagnetic field. Also, remember to put your cell phone on silent to ensure small beeps indicating receipt of texts and emails are not disturbing your sleep. This may not be loud enough to wake you but can keep you from entering a deep restorative sleep.
For supplements, herbal teas are one of my favorite tools for improving sleep. The soothing warmth of the tea combines with the sleep inducing qualities of the herbs. I created my own special blend of tea to help with sleep issues. I call it Relaxation Tea and it is a perennial favorite with my clients. This tea is specially formulated for all my clients that complain of being awake for hours trying to drift off to sleep. A cup of the tea about 15 minutes before sleep does the trick. The primary sleep inducing herbs in the blend are Valerian root and Skullcap, both are relaxing herbs which help to relieve anxiety and nervous tension. The blend also contains mint and a little stevia leaf to give it a pleasant taste.
If your issue is staying asleep rather than falling asleep, passionflower tea is the perfect antidote. Passionflower has been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce night wakefulness. Brew the tea for 10-15 minutes and drink about an hour before bedtime.
Getting a good night’s sleep is a must have for self-care and moved to the top of the priority list to support your health and wellness. By creating a nighttime sleep ritual to prepare for bedtime, you can create support your health, improve your metabolism, and increase your energy.
Book a free strategy call to discover how you can work one on one with Deb to improve your sleep and metabolism.