Doing everything right? Exercising, check. Eating right, check. Staying on top of hydration, check. Cutting out excessive alcohol, check. But still struggling to see results? When this is the case, we can often look a little deeper and find that you might be struggling due to poor sleeping habits. Poor sleep is also a common culprit in preventing many from establishing great habits in the first place. And yes, from a nutrition standpoint, this very well could be the first thing that you need to address before taking on other tasks.
It seems like American culture continues to push us in a direction that not only does not prioritize sleep but simultaneously destroys the quality of the sleep that we do get. We’re convinced that we constantly have to be “hustling” to get ahead. Sleep less, work more. More work and more screens have us stuck inside when our body’s by design are supposed to be outside during the day soaking in natural sunlight for energy. Then when we go to sleep, we’re pulled in the direction of all of the sleep destroying screens that we have been sold. Have to finish that series on Netflix and then check email and Insta on the I-phone before going to sleep right?
How do we overcome this? First, the benefits of prioritizing your sleep. Sleep restores our body’s immune, nervous, skeletal, hormonal and muscular systems. If you are not sleeping adequately, your body doesn’t have the time to recover from one day before throwing it right into another. Week after week and year after year, this leads to breakdown of the system! Proper sleep literally sets the foundation for maintaining daily physical and mental performance, especially over the long haul.
Second, sleep aids in regulating your metabolism.This includes your blood sugar and insulin levels which play huge roles in weight management. We’ve seen this many times, the person who limits their intake well but just can’t seem to lose the bodyfat.
Proper sleep dramatically improves our mood. This makes us more of a joy to be around and helps us feel happier and more sane. A better outlook on life results and with that the heightened ability to handle the stress and chaos that comes at us on a daily basis. If we can handle this with a stronger mindset, we’re more likely to stick to our nutritional guns and avoid stress induced eating and drinking.
How do we get better sleep? Have a better sleep routine and set the stage for great sleep. One, cut out your exposure to light at night. Yes, television and phone screens (blue light) are preventing you from experiencing great sleep. Blue light stimulates the brain, preventing you from relaxing into a deep sleep. Start by eliminating all screens 30 minutes before bedtime and then progress to 1 hour.
Second, cut out eating before bedtime. Late dinners and snacking cause your body’s digestive system to kick in. If your body is busy digesting it isn’t relaxing making it more difficult for you to get deep sleep. Start with 30 minutes and work towards no food 2 hours before bedtime.
Next, get to sleep earlier. An earlier bedtime will improve your chances of getting more sleep. American society has us going to bed late watching Netflix and waking up early to get the kids ready and get to work. Cut out the shows and get to bed earlier. Start with 15 minutes and work your way up to an 8 hour sleep window. The Yellowstone FOMO will eventually go away, you’ll realize that the shows aren’t moving your life forward, and you’ll end up feeling better because of your improved sleep.
Finally, get natural sunlight into your eyes and onto your skin early in the morning and throughout the day. This gets your internal clock more in tune with the Sun. When the sun goes down later it will signal “winding down time” to your brain. You’ll be more likely to follow through with a better night time routine because of it. Start with a 5 minute walk outside in the morning upon sunrise.
As mentioned earlier, our culture is shifting and there is a lot of riff raff being thrown at us. We should lock onto the mindset that although prioritizing 8 hours of sleep won’t give us all of the time we think we need right now, it will give us the recovery to be our best selves each day moving forward. When we’re at our best our productivity can be 2, 3 or even 4x’d. We’ll accomplish more in less time and it will be a no-brainer that we should set aside the urgency of today for a better future.
I’m here to help when you’re ready,