I don’t know about you, but I don’t always get enough sleep–which is unhealthy and can also affect my personal level of happiness in a bad way.
Of course, stress and other health-attacking concerns are exactly what put me on the road to getting a lack of sleep in the first place.
And, since I know that I’m profoundly normal in this particular aspect of my life, I have put together the following list of tips from the experts on getting more sleep.
1. Quit drinking caffeine after 7 pm in the evening (or three hours before bedtime.) It sounds obvious for most, I’m sure, but I had to include this one because I’m guilty of sipping coffee in the evening hours on a pretty regular basis.
2. Get your exercise. Getting out and moving is not only a great way to increase your happiness in general, but it can significantly improve the quality and quantity of sleep. You’ll feel more like sleeping when you exercise–and you’ll sleep better.
3. Try EFT tapping. EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique or Emotional Freedom Therapy (depending on who you ask.) The technique involves a series of acupressure, wherein you tap certain points on your body to create specific effects–including improved sleep, among other things.
4. Try not to eat three hours before bedtime, and especially snacks that involve grains or sugars. Why? Because grains and sugars will raise your blood sugar, giving you lower quality sleep. And, doctors say, when the blood sugar drops later, you could wake up and have trouble falling back asleep.
5. Sleep in darkness. Ok, I admit it, I’m guilty of sleeping with the bathroom light on and the TV tuned to Nick at Nite. I could go into the reasons I do this and why it works for me, but that wouldn’t be helping either of us get more sleep. According to researchers, even a small amount of light in your bedroom can disrupt your circadian rhythms, as well as your body’s production of melatonin and serotonin, which help to naturally induce and enhance restorative sleep. So, they recommend, sleep without lights or television (which also stimulates the brain and can reduce your chances of a good night’s sleep.)
So how about you?
Do you find yourself giving up sleep to accommodate your busy schedule? What are your top tips for getting more or better sleep?
Beauty sleep has long been touted as a common sense strategy for looking fresh and youthful. One recent study aimed to test whether rest quality truly affected skin aging, yielding some interesting results that offer a good excuse for hitting the snooze button.
The article begins by summarizing the study and findings. In the participant group of sixty women, about half were classified as poor sleepers and half as good sleepers based on questionnaires of sleep duration and habits. The participants then underwent several tests designed to measure skin aging, recovery function, and the women’s self-perceptions.
Mattress Inquirer highlights some of the more interesting results reported by the study, which include highlight tangible differences between good and poor sleepers’ skin. Good sleepers scored better on measures of internal or intrinsic aging, which includes traits like fine lines, skin elasticity and evenness of pigmentation. The well-rested group also proved better at retaining moisture and recovering from disruption and ultraviolet light exposure.
The poor sleepers also had higher average body mass indexes, and included a greater proportion of obese women. Self-perception was the other major result, with the well-rested women reporting higher satisfaction with their looks, appearance and complexion.
Given the results of the research and the numerous ways that sleep impacts long-term health as well as physical and mental well-being, Mattress Inquirer stresses the importance of healthy sleep habits. The article concludes with a few suggestions for improving rest quality based on sleep hygiene guidelines. Tips include sticking to a regular sleep-wake schedule, partaking in regular exercise and a healthy diet, developing a relaxing bedtime ritual, and establishing a relaxing atmosphere by limiting noise/light and selecting a comfortable, good quality mattress. The website also offers several other articles on current sleep news as well as mattress buying guides and comparisons for interested readers.
Mattress-Inquirer.com is an informational blog that provides relevant and recent news related to the health, sleep, and mattress industries. In addition to covering new technologies, mattress reviews and opinion pieces, readers enjoy a variety of helpful educational resources designed to aid shopping and sleep quality.
I don’t know about you, but my life gets pretty busy sometimes. I’m not complaining, mind you, but I’ve got three beautiful kids, a wonderful husband, a career, pets…a home…jobs…friends…well, we all play plenty of roles in life.
Since I find myself so busy sometimes, I don’t get a lot of “quiet time,” as I’m sure you might imagine. And since I’m the sort of person who kind of needs a little quiet time each day, I often find that time by staying up late into the night, well after the family has gone to bed.
Some nights, I’m working. Other nights, I’m watching a favorite show on DVR–just so I can watch from beginning to end without interruption. Sometimes, I just don’t do anything at all. It’s all about having time to just breathe and be quiet.
So, that’s great, right?
Yeah, except that, in the process of trying to fulfill my need for quiet time, I’m cheating myself of something else that could potentially have a very serious impact on my happiness.
Because, of course, even though I stay up till the wee hours of the morning–I’m also a mom. And moms? They don’t get to sleep in.
So, what’s the big deal about sleep?
Well, besides the fact that lack of sleep can have serious consequences on your health–like increasing your risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer–lack of sleep has been proven to have a profoundly negative effect on your mood and overall level of happiness.
Studies suggest that even adding one hour of sleep to your nightly schedule could improve your happiness quotient more significantly than a $60,000 annual raise–and that one of the top two reasons people find themselves in a bad mood at work was a poor night’s sleep.
And, according to the National Sleep Foundation, companies lose around $35 billion every year in loss of productivity, sick leave, medical expenses, and property and environmental damage–all thanks to their employees’ sleep deprivation. And the consequences some people face are even worse.
So what does all this mean?
Well, for me, it means I’ve got a conundrum here. I need quiet time, and I need to sleep. Yet, I have kids and a happily busy schedule during my waking hours. So this means that I need to figure out a way to get more sleep and still find time for myself.
Most of us have our mothers to thank for our ingrained eating habits, exercise approach and self-image.
For me, it was a crazy, yoga-practicing, kale-eating great-grandmother.
Mud the Miracle-Great-Grandma
When I was little, “Mud” came to visit our family (my grandfather had difficulty pronouncing the German word for “mother,” and his abbreviated version stuck). My sister and I were hoping she would bring presents, cookies, maybe a Barbie or two.
But when she stepped off the plane from California, Mud was pulling a suitcase full of kale, fish oil, wheat berries and Meyer lemons.
Someone still owes me a Barbie.
Mud stuck out like a sore thumb… make that a strong, lithe, beautifully manicured thumb. She drank warm water and lemon all day long. I’ve never met anyone better at cheating at cards. She slept on a board and practiced yoga, decades before it was popular. Mud had perfect teeth, perfect posture, and an unrelenting dedication to whole foods. She looked 25 years younger than her peers and could lift her foot behind her head, as a great-grandmother.
This was a woman seriously in tune with her body. Mud figured out how to keep her body balanced, her metabolism humming, and her lifestyle rejuvenating.
Here’s the truth: Mud shouldn’t be the exception. We’ve all got the potential to be as youthful and energetic as Mud. You’ve heard this before from my friend, Dr. Lissa Rankin, and I’m going to help you get started today with my top 7 ways.
Centuries of Wisdom
With Mud as my inspiration, I’ve spent decades exploring the world of prevention, healing, and repair through nutrition and lifestyle. Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine prove that health can be managed through daily habits and natural remedies, from what we put in our mouths to when we close our eyes at night.
Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and Bruno know how intelligent and adaptable our bodies are:
Cause you’re amazing, Just the way you are.
– Bruno Mars, Just The way You Are
As a practicing physician who’s worked with over 20,000 women, I know our bodies come with built-in systems designed to help us heal, manage, and live the max out of every hour, of every day. It makes sense, right? The more we own and care for our bodies, the more we’ll get out of them.
1. Work on Your Gut
Health, like beauty, really is an inside job: The zillions of bacteria that make up the microbial garden of your gut are your body’s first line of defense against infections and illness. Known as the microbiome of the gut, science is exploding with studies proving our bodies are designed – like some crazy robot of the future – to heal themselves. When they’re out of balance, bad bacteria start to cause problems, whether it comes from a virus or hormonal imbalance.
Own it: A healthy diet creates healthy bacteria, which turns you into an infection-fighting, cold-thwarting machine. Eat whole foods that balance your blood sugar and provide vitamins and minerals.
2. You Snooze, You Win (Create circadian congruence.)
Humans are designed to rise with the sun and to sleep when it’s dark. Seems a little obvious, but most us are guilty of late nights and days spent in an office. Sure, there are morning people and night owls, but your hormones are released according to your sleep/wake cycle.
Own it: Get your Circadian rhythm in order, and your body will produce the hormones you need whenyou need them. Do your best to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day. Also remember that there’s no better way to wake up than to expose yourself to sunlight.
3. Exceptional Eating (+ Epigenetics)
If you need a frappucino and muffin to get through your day, that’s a sure sign your hormones are off, and bad news for your DNA (50-80% of how your genes are expressed are determined by how you eat, move, think, and supplement—a phenomenon called “epigenetics). Cravings for salt and sugar can be cries for help from your thyroid, your cortisol levels, or your even sleep cycle.
Own it: Create a diet high in whole foods, fiber, and water. Take a hormone quiz (you’ll see how at the end of this post) to see which aspects of your diet might be lacking.
4. Restore, Rejuvenate, Refresh
Accelerated aging, wrinkles, moodiness, low energy… these are all signs that your body hasn’t had a chance to repair itself. Cell repair is an important process that happens every night, but late bedtimes and not enough sleep are serious roadblocks.
Own it: I’m strict because I care: lights out by 10pm (at least 5 of 7 nights each week). Getting in bed by this time is the magic hour to facilitate repair benefit to your body, cells, and muscles. The ratio of catabolism (wear and tear) to anabolism (growth and repair) shifts while you sleep, and the hours before midnight are especially auspicious. This is how to avoid Botox. Do it.
5. Symptoms Are Not a Cry for Pills.
Think about a health problem as a text message from your body: Hard-to-lose belly fat? Your cortisol could be high. Low sex drive? Testosterone and estrogen levels may be off. Memory loss? Estrogen and cortisol could be factors in this equation. These aren’t problems asking for a prescription – they’re asking for a lifestyle change.
Own it: Get to the root cause. Up the Omega 3s in your diet, try GPS for the Soul and take some B6. These are just a few of the gentle, prescription-free ways you can care for your body, and pretty much everyone will benefit from them. Always try lifestyle tweaks such as diet or exercise solutions before you reach for the pill bottle.
6. I Stress, Eustress…
Don’t confuse hyperdrive, late-night bursts of energy and other stress-junkie symptoms for productivity. Yes, elevated cortisol is bad for you, but so is low cortisol. Ideally, you get a burst of cortisol in the morning that wakes you up and gets you going. Over the course of the day, your cortisol levels should slowly decline so that when bedtime rolls around (10pm, remember?), it’s easy to relax and fall asleep. Cortisol needs to be in the “Goldilocks” position: not too high, and not too low.
Own it: “Eustress” means good stress, because we all need some cortisol in our lives. It’s what gets us going! The healthy solution is to change your reaction to stressful situations; approach them as a challenge, or try some deep breathing, yoga, or meditation.
7. Be a Good Neighbor
Think of your body as a neighborhood: a busy community of hormones, bacteria, and hard-working organs. Many of these work together – known as “cross talk” – which means that if one aspect of your health is off, chances are it’s affecting something else. HIgh cortisol often results in low thyroid, which means a stressed-out mind and a slowing metabolism. No, thank you.
Own it: Figure out what your body needs, and do it! Returning this interconnected system to balance may have positive effects you didn’t even think of! Healthier skin! More flexible joints! The ability to sleep without a glass of wine!
Smarter than the Average Body
Your body can do a lot; from a perfect French Braid, to remembering where you left your car keys, to getting over a cold, it’s a pretty incredible machine. Give your body the chance to rise to its full potential by making lifestyle changes, such as reducing your alcohol consumption, exercising more, and losing weight. In this way, you’re maximizing your DNA; keeping your hormones balanced helps prevent your negative genetic tendencies. Non-genetic triggers can cause your genes to behave, or express themselves, differently. This is where being proactive establishes your hormone cure.