6 Tips to Get Quality Sleep
Living a healthy lifestyle is so much more than just what we eat right? You know the basics like getting exercise or movement in as much as you can, drinking plenty of water, maybe taking some supplements…but there’s ONE thing that affects everything and has definitely derailed “generally healthy” me a lot over the years.
Sleep. Quality, reliable sleep.
I was chatting with a friend the other day who said “I feel like I haven’t slept well in decades”, while another said “Ugh I’m too tired to work out today because I was up all night” or “I’m sorry I’m so cranky – it took me forever to fall asleep last night”.
Does that sound like you, too?
ALL those have been me at various times since my early 20’s for a zillion different reasons. And studies have proven over and over again we tend to overeat more and make poor food choices when we’re tired. Let alone having any desire to exercise…or just feeling good about yourself and life! That groggy, grumpy day-after feeling is pretty much a “Happy meets Healthy” buzzkill that totally derails our health goals.
Over the years I’ve read so many books and articles, and tried lots of tricks with mixed results…but the past year I’ve been doing a combination of easy things that’s DEFINITELY made a major difference in my sleep.
Why Getting Quality Sleep Matters
Adult women need to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night to be in their best health. But so few of us get that! It’s been proven that most women sleep a lot lighter than men (probably genetically to make sure the babies wouldn’t get carried off by wild jackals or something!)
Women also have fluctuating hormones to deal with that messes with our sleep, menopause in particular. The menopausal decline of estrogen contributes to disrupted sleep by causing menopausal symptoms from hot flushes and sweats (vasomotor symptoms) to anxiety and depressed mood; anxiety leading to difficulty getting to sleep, and depression leading to non-restorative sleep and early morning wakening.
Getting a good night’s rest promotes a healthy balance of hormones, including those that regulate appetite, digestion, and metabolism. Ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone, is impacted by sleep patterns. Research has shown that sleep patterns influence ghrelin. Sleep-deprived adults tend to have higher ghrelin levels, more hunger, and less feeling of fullness compared to adults who get seven-to-nine hours of sleep. Studies point to a link between lack of sleep and obesity, as well as a link between short sleep duration and a high body mass index.
While sleep duration has been shown to affect appetite and caloric intake, sleep quality is also crucial. Those who sleep poorly, especially women, are more likely to follow a less healthy diet. This puts them at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity.
A good night’s rest promotes healthy production of hormones that control appetite, including leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a peptide hormone that regulates your body’s energy balance by hindering feelings of hunger and regulating fat storage. Gherin — a hormone secreted in the stomach that acts as a counterpart to leptin — boosts appetite, growth, and fat production.
Sufficient, restful sleep allows the body to regulate the production of these two hormones, creating a balance of appetite and satiation. Likewise, lack of sleep can create an imbalance in the body that increases ghrelin levels and lowers leptin levels. This can cause you to feel hungrier during the day. This imbalance caused by sleep deprivation may lead to a higher calorie intake during the day.
Additionally, sleep loss can impact how your body reacts to the production of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. This can in turn put you at higher risk for diabetes,
6 Tips to Get Quality Sleep
Over the years I’ve tried everything to get better sleep and have experienced so many bouts of Sunday Scaries, completely sleepless nights, 3 am wakeups and more. This combination of things has made a major difference for me over the past (stressful!) year and I hope it helps you too. You can try adding them in one at a time for a few days to see what works best for you or feel free to DM me to ask questions!
1. Watch what you drink during the day
I completely quit caffeine afternoon. Also, see how alcohol or a nightly glass of wine affects you. We just did another dry January and it was crazy how much better I slept. I’m not giving up drinking permanently! But if the pandemic got you in a near-daily habit of having a glass after dinner like we were, try eliminating that to see if it helps.
2. No work, social media, or stressful talk an hour or so before bed
I’ve found that mindless scrolling, creating social media posts, or talking about things like work/finances are surefire ways to put my brain on overdrive at bedtime. It’s almost like we’re newborns again and need that calming bedtime routine to tell our brains it’s time to go to sleep.
3. Create a bedtime routine for yourself
When my girls were little all the baby books talked about using a “bedtime routine” to teach them it’s time for sleep. I’m not sure how we got out of doing that for ourselves & expect our brains to just shut off! For me, it’s no social media or computer work (boring TV doesn’t seem to bother me), often some Sleepytime tea, a hot shower, and reading for a little bit in bed in a dim room. Here are two book recs if you need a good one! Everyone in my book club loved both: Gentleman in Moscow & Less a Novel
4. Try meditating or a meditation app
I’ve always joked that I’m exactly the personality type that CAN’T quiet her mind so meditation would never work. Until I read the book “10% Happier” at the recommendation of a friend. It convinced me to try and I’ve been using their app to meditate at bedtime ever since. It’s also a go-to if I do wake up in the middle of the night. The benefits of regular meditation last all through the day, too. Definitely check out the book “10% Happier” if you’re a skeptic like I was (it’s a fun & not at all preachy read!) and try a meditation app like 10% Happier, Calm, or Headspace at bedtime.
5) Magic Combo: CBD and Magnesium
This one was doctor recommended after trying melatonin, Benadryl, Tylenol PM, and even Ambien & Xanax. If you haven’t tried CBD yet it won’t make you at all high or even obviously sleepy – but taking a few drops of oil helped. I found Cured Nutrition Zen which is easy to swallow, has no smell, no taste, AND adds in Magnesium to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. GAMECHANGER. Use code JULIE to get free shipping.
6) Set up your sleep environment
Studies show a really cool, dark room with white noise can help you fall and stay asleep & I couldn’t agree more (we run an air conditioner in winter!). Also, make sure your bedding doesn’t make you get too hot or tangled.
Try a satin pillowcase to stay cool & bonus less sleepy-face in the am too (I adore these satin pillowcases from Kitsch! They wash really well too) and make sure your bedding works for you. I finally found a super soft, light comforter I love from Buffy.com that keeps me cozy when cold but that I can throw off if I get hot (sigh. night sweats!)