SLEEP

Sleep is often overlooked in these days of hustling, shift work, and habits.  However, it is so important to your health and needs to take a front seat in your life.  From circadian rhythm (https://www.sleepfoundation.org/circadian-rhythm), hormone balance, rest and repairing of bodily tissues, digestion, disease prevention, and more, this is one thing you should prioritize.

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Lack of sleep is linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, depression, anxiety, mood and brain function issues, cancer, and early aging among other things.

Some general recommendations to get a good night sleep:
*Start a routine before bedtime to prepare your body’s natural cycle for bedtime.  That could include turning off screens 1-2 hours prior, and maybe watching the sunset, read a good book, pray/meditate.  This can help trigger your body’s natural melatonin and awareness that night is here. Use an alarm/reminder to start a unwind time.

*Set a bedtime time frame (maybe between 10-11pm as an adult).  And a wake-up time.  Your body’s clock thrives on this. 6-8 hours is the goal for most people.

*Limit caffeine to mornings caffeine stays in your system for potentially 6 hours).  And limit/avoid other things like alcohol (a suppressant that messes with your sleep cycles – https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition/alcohol-and-sleep), late night eating if possible, and other stimulants in the afternoon that will disrupt your body’s clock. This one can be hard, I know, but you can always start with one thing at a time and less at a time.

*Get daily movement and exercise.  This one has a huge impact on quality of sleep and ability to get to sleep. *Reduce stress levels (especially at night).  No news or social media at night.

*Eat balanced meals throughout the day that are nutrient dense to support your body properly.

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Other general tips:

*Give a new routine time to work and remember discipline and consistency is always key.  Habits and routines take time to build and see results – I have seen some people take a month to adjust and others just 2 weeks.  We are all different.

*Try not to blow it all out the door on the weekends – Keep the routine as much as possible throughout the weekend.  This can take practice, and give yourself grace, but your body will thank you.  There will always be something that comes up – go with the flow and don’t fret.  Fretting will not help us with anything.

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*If you have been taking sleeping pills, please be wary of their addictive capabilities.  They disrupt your system, potentially have bad side effects, and produce a medicated sleep which isn’t always restorative to your body in the long run.  There are natural supplements that may assist as needed, and be potentially safer and non-habit forming, but you should talk with your doctor/Natural Path./Functional Medicine doctor when it comes to medications and supplements.

*Box Breathing is a great way to get your body calm and out of a state of fight/flight.  Check out how to do this here (https://www.webmd.com/balance/what-is-box-breathing).  I have found this helps me when I wake at night and can’t get back to bed too.  If you have a breathing problem, sleep apnea, or other concern it is always advisable to talk with your doctor when incorporating breathing techniques.

*If you suffer from insomnia, habits that keep you awake (maybe unknowingly), and other issues, you really should take a moment to ponder what can be done to help if the above things are not enough.  Maybe working with a coach, sleep specialist, or psychologist would be worth looking into pending the reasons for it. 

Take the time to help yourself sleep better and deeper so your health improves and you age well like fine wine.