The Truth About Sleep, Weight Gain, and Chronic Inflammation [Part 2]

In Part 1 of this blog, we explored the many negative ramifications that poor sleep can have on our bodies: weight gain, mood disorders, low immunity, memory loss, lethargy, and brain fog to name a few. Despite popular opinion, it’s not “normal” to experience these issues on a daily basis, and yet so many people go decades living with these conditions, thinking they are just a part of being alive.

I invite you to challenge that narrative and realize that you have the power within you to feel amazing and to transform those debilitating symptoms into systemic, abundant health.

Where can you begin?

You can start by taking an honest look at your sleeping habits and answering these 5 questions:

  1. How many hours do you typically sleep at night?
  2. How long does it take you to fall asleep at night?
  3. Do you often wake up in the middle of the night?
  4. Do you need an alarm clock to wake up?
  5. Do you feel refreshed and energized upon waking?

We are so distracted these days by our TV’s, smartphones, iPads, computers, etc. that sleep seems to always take the backseat. We already learned what this can do to our health so let’s start exploring ways to get better sleep at night!

My Top 5 Tips for Better Sleep:

1. Good Sleep Starts in the Morning: Exposure to morning sunlight is key to setting your body’s natural circadian rhythm and healthy sleep patterns. People who bask in the morning sunlight upon waking report being in a better mood throughout the day and sleeping better at night.

A wonderful way to expose yourself to morning sunlight is to go outside for a walk in nature every morning you are able to. Set your clothes and shoes out the night before to make it easier for you to get up and go. If you aren’t able to do this, no worries! If you have a yard or a porch, try to sit outside and do some deep breathing exercises in the morning while you look up to the sky. If it’s not possible for you to get outside at all, you can sit by a window in the morning and enjoy some tea while planning for your day. On dark, cloudy days consider using a HappyLight, which mimics sunlight to enhance mood, energy, sleep & focus.

Lastly, it’s just as important to be intentional about light exposure in the evenings as it is in the morning. Be sure to turn off overhead lights after dinner time and enjoy the natural beauty of salt rock lamps or the soft glow of beeswax candles. This will help stimulate melatonin production.

2. Aim to Sleep Within the Hours of 10pm-6am: Our bodies release the most melatonin between the hours of 10pm-2am. Melatonin is needed for: great quality sleep, antioxidant protection, healthy reproduction, detoxification, regulation of body mass, healthy bone formation, great cardiovascular function, immune protection, and relieving stress. Studies show that maintaining a regular sleep schedule can reduce sleep latency (the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep), improve cognition and neurological function, and improve your overall mood.

So how can you implement a sleep schedule? Make it a priority to get to bed around 10pm and wake at 6am, if possible. Be consistent with it and you will start to naturally notice that you get tired every night around 10pm and naturally want to wake at 6am. Practice makes perfect- the more you practice doing this the more it will become part of your routine!

3. Put a Curfew on Electronics: Most of us know that blue light negatively affects our sleep because it decreases our bodies’ production of melatonin, but staring at electronics before bed is also bad because it keeps us psychologically engaged when we should be winding down. If you struggle with a racing mind before bed, it is especially important for you to put away the electronics.

How can you do this? For starters, look into investing in some blue light blocking glasses or just keep the night light settings on on all of your devices all the time. Next, since you will be aiming to sleep between the hours of 10pm and 6am every day, set a 8pm curfew on all electronic devices. If this feels too daunting to you, start with a 9:30pm curfew and slowly move it back in 30 minute increments as you are ready.

In order to succeed at this, you are going to have to find something else to do in between the hours of 8pm-10pm, so I suggest getting out an old-fashioned pen and paper and writing out a list of things that you can do instead of playing on your phone or watching TV. Here are some ideas:

  • Read a book
  • Take a bath
  • Play a board game with your family
  • Sit outside and watch the sunset
  • Do a puzzle
  • Practice Yoga
  • Practice an instrument
  • Clean up your house
  • Journal
  • Meal prep for the next day

4. Take Care of Your Body During the Day: Make sure that you spend at least 10-30 minutes a day mindfully moving your body. Find an activity that you love doing whether it be walking, biking, yoga, dancing, etc. and make it part of your daily routine. Move your body joyfully and with gratitude- remember exercise is a gift, not a punishment. Consistently exercising can increase the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep.

Say goodbye to processed, packaged, sugary foods and say hello to the nutrient-dense foods that nature provides us with like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and high quality proteins. Lastly, be sure to not consume any caffeine after noon, as this acts as a stimulant in our bodies long after we consume it and can wreak havoc on our sleep cycles.

5. Journal, Meditate, and Deep Breathe Before Bed: These practices are powerful and can truly take your sleep to the next level! Get in the habit of writing down all the things you are most grateful for so that you can fall asleep every night with a joyful heart.

Practicing even just 5-minutes of meditation and deep breathing exercises before bed can instantly put you in a relaxed, parasympathetic state and prepare you for getting the deep, restorative slumber your body needs to thrive! I personally love East Forest meditation, but if this isn’t your jam then spend some time finding what calms you and try to get in the habit of incorporating it into your schedule every night.

If you are looking for more ways to sleep better at night and become your most healthy, vibrant self, schedule a Metabolic Discovery Call with me today!

Photo credit Andrea Piacquadio

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