Lack of sleep can mess with your mood, add in food cravings and enable your hormones to not work properly. In addition, the stress hormone cortisol will be increased when you have any sleep issues and that can cause chronic inflammation, fat storage and other potential health problems.
So, what is keeping you awake all night?
There are factors that may be in your control if you are having a hard time hitting the Zzz's.
Here are some things to consider:
Diet- Typically, the clients that come to me with "insomnia" as one of their symptoms are usually not aware of how many cups of caffeinated drinks they are consuming on the regular. This is definitely a good place to start. Try to keep consumption at 1-2 cups a day and all before 3pm. Also, if you are hungry before bed, try to avoid a heavy meal that is hard to digest. This can impede the process of internal triggers that signal to your body it's time to hit the sack. Alcohol, dark chocolate and sugary foods can all interfere as well, so skip the treats and nightcap. Opt for lighter foods and snacks if needed an hour or 2 before bedtime.
Technology- Have you ever felt absolutely exhausted, crawled into bed and then find yourself surfing the internet or Facebook for way more time than you initially expected, opening up a whole new world of second winds? That's one of the worst things to do for the melatonin in your body, which is the hormone that releases each night to promote sleep. Little things like the light from your phone, laptop, and television can be very detrimental to a good night of REM sleep. A good rule of thumb is to stay away from technology at least an hour before bed, keep it out of your room and only use the space for sleep & sex!
Stress: Not being able to turn off the "hustle and bustle" from the day will absolutely set you up for a horrible night's sleep. Some good strategies for overcoming this all-too-common problem is to "write your worries" down in a journal that you keep on your nightstand. This will allow your brain to get a break from the constant gerbil wheel, and hopefully focus more on rest. You can then tackle all those issues the next day, removing them from your mind and placing them in a checklist for future reference. Meditation, taking a bath, breathing exercises, light reading and creating other relaxing nighttime rituals will certainly help as well.
Environment: Your room should be cool and dark. Think cave-like, but not so much that you block out the natural sunlight in the morning. You can add in "white noise" to help drown any other sounds. A fan or machine can be a good addition, especially if you feel your mind race when you try to lay down to rest or you are a light sleeper and get woken up by the slightest sounds at night.
Generally speaking, most people need 7-9 hours to function optimally. Sleep synchronizes so many of the processes that relate to your health and should not be taken lightly. Look at your current habits and make the necessary changes needed to finally get the proper rest.
"Your future depends on your dreams - so go to sleep!"
To Your Best Life,
P.S. Stay tuned for great Fall specials coming in September...