We have all heard that sleep is extremely important for wellness and health. It is also important, however, to understand that it isn’t about sleep quantity necessarily, but rather about sleep quality. There are a few ways to optimize our sleep quality.
Firstly, how do we know if we are not getting optimal sleep?
• Your mind is foggy and you cannnot concentrate
• You feel unhappy – sleep affects hormone regulation, which in turn affects mood.
• You get sick often – when our bodies aren’t rested, inflammation will increase. This leaves us highly vulnerable to viruses.
• You struggle with your weight – when we feel tired, our body will crave food as a source of energy regardless of hunger levels.
• Your motivation to exercise decreases – it is hard to get to gym when we are feeling exhausted. Insufficient sleep leads to a depressed central nervous system and the body will not be able to train as effectively.
Secondly, how do we optimize our sleep quality?
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
It is important to remember that all of our bodily functions from sleep to digestion work in cycles. The best time to wake up is before 6am because your body goes into the Kapha, or “water” cycle after 6am. Waking up after 6am leaves you feeling groggy. If you keep to a consistent wake up time, your body will become used to rousing itself at that time. Your body will learn when to start and stop producing melatonin so that you wake up feeling more alert.
- Get yourself into some sunlight.
Sunlight will reinforce to your mind and body that it is daytime and time to be alert. Cortisol levels rise in a natural and healthy way. Sunlight also reinforces your melatonin production cycle.
- Get moving right away.
Hitting the snooze button increases sleep inertia and make it harder to get out of bed. Try to get your feet on the floor as soon as possible.
- Caffeine and exercise.
Limit caffeinated drinks and intensive exercise later in the day as it affects deep sleep.
- Limit screen time before bed.
Artificial light such as light from cell phones and screens will affect melatonin production and you won’t be able to fall asleep as easily.
A warm bath, meditation or journaling can calm the mind and body to prepare for sleep.
It is important to understand that the first step in wellness should be to get sufficient sleep. Nutrition and exercise are both affected by our sleep quality, making it the foundation to good health! It can be easy to push our bed time to a later time for work or some tv, but we need to understand the implications that this has on overall health.
It is not easy, but it is simple: Get sleep. Get focused. Then work on everything else!
Have a great day.
Lots of light and love xx