Sleep is a health topic that fascinates me. Most of us know that sleep, or the lack of it, can have a massive effect on our health and well being in general. There are even studies that rank it as highly as nutrition and exercise.
As women, changes in our sleep patterns happen regularly though out our lives. Starting with the biological life cycles of menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Did you know that women are 40 percent more likelyto suffer from insomnia than men (sleep foundation.org)?!!
So how does a lack of sleep affect my body?
When we get insufficient sleep, our bodies start to react by developing increased glucose (blood sugar) intolerance and insulin resistance, this could lead to conditions such as diabetes. The increase in strain of being awake places stress on our heart so we become at risk of increasing our blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
There are changes in our hormone levels such as more ghrelin which controls appetite and the decreased levels of leptin stop us from feeling satiety and fullness. Combine this with changes in cortisol and on average we consume about 300 calories a day more when we need sleep. It only takes 500 extra calories a day to add 1lb per week.
How can we improve our sleep? Below are seven sleep top tips;
- Increase bright light exposure during the day.
Your body has a natural time-keeping clock. Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, night time sleep quality, sleep duration and how quickly you can fall asleep (one clinical study showed an improvement of 83% with this)
2. Reduce blue light exposure in the evening.
However too much light in the evening reduces hormones like melatonin which help you relax and get deep sleep. Blue light from our smartphones and computers emit large amounts which do not help us. Try and turn everything off 2 hours before bed time.
3. Don’t consume caffeine late in the day.
Caffeine can stay in your in your blood for 6+ hours. Therefore, coffee after 3pm is not recommended. It is best to have a decaf.
4. Keep regular sleeping patterns.
That means to wake up and go to bed no matter how tired you are at first at the same times and to cut out naps longer than 30mins.
5. Try a supplement.
Shapers’ Sleep Enhancer has a carefully crafted balance of magnesium with two forms of zinc and extra vitamin B6. This means it helps increase the function of your parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for your body feeling calm and relaxed. This combination will reduce tiredness and fatigue whilst making it easier to fall and stay asleep. It also helps to improve mood and anxiety levels.
6. Don’t drink too much alcohol.
Whilst having a glass of wine with dinner will relax us, having a couple or more of drinks at night can negatively affect your sleep and hormones, especially melatonin and HGH.
7. Don’t eat late in the evening
Giving your body something complex to process when it is trying to relax is asking too much of it. If you work means that dinner is late, may be swap your lunch and dinner meals around.
In summary if you want to optimize your health or lose weight, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do!