2019 is around the corner and wouldn’t it be so very cool knowing that you could reach all your goals by taking a magic pill. Oh yes, I can imagine, but I also know that many of us have tried to find the magic pill and yet was really disappointment when we found out it doesn’t exist.
The truth is your health and your goals are a journey and it takes consistency, determination and persistence to reach them. In the past I have seen so many people almost reach a goal but yet then gave up when they were so close to unlocking their true body & health potential.
So yes, consistency is Key but for today the missing ingredient is actually something that is so underrated and not looked after. I believe we treat it quite badly sometimes and we almost will allow anything to get in front of it….
The missing ingredient is Sleep.
In this over-caffeinated, over-worked and gadget addicted society it is no wonder most of us are having trouble with getting enough sleep. In-fact researchers from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Manchester and Surrey universities have found people are sleeping almost two fewer hours a night than they were in the 1960s. As a result, our health is deteriorating.
There is actually not one good thing about not getting enough sleep. I understand some of us have to work at it differently to others because they work shift work, or some find it sometimes impossible being new parents or have serious sleep trouble, I totally understand but for the rest of us how can we work on our sleep in 2019 to not only improve our health but to lose weight. First of all, I think we must understand the affect poor quality sleep has on our lives.
Let me talk about this first;
Individuals who don’t get adequate sleep are more likely to gain weight over time. Contributing to this weight gain is an increased number of calories consumed during the day, particularly high-fat foods consumed later in the evening according to the Harvard medical university
Increased risk of chronic disease
Your body is more susceptible to stress without a good night’s sleep. The immune system does not function optimally, and inflammatory proteins and blood sugar levels increase in response to lower levels of insulin being released throughout the night. Chronic short sleep duration is also associated with hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Increased risk of accidents and injuries
When you are exhausted, both physically and mentally, there
is an increased risk of injuries, errors, and accidents. This tired state of mind may lead to mishaps like stubbing your toe, cutting yourself in the kitchen, falling, or getting into an accident.
Decline in cognitive function
There are measurable changes in brain activity that occur after a period of sleep deprivation. When you do not get a sufficient amount of sleep, your mental performance suffers, impairing your ability to process new information and perform more complicated tasks. This may also impact your overall mood, focus, and high-level cognitive function. Sleep loss has been shown to impair decision making, which may lead you to make choices that you wouldn’t make if rested – this effect may be even more pronounced as we get older.
Without sufficient rest, you may have trouble keeping your emotions in check. Increased feelings of irritability, anxiety, sadness, and anger are common. You may even find that you
are more vulnerable to unprovoked bouts of laughter or tears.
If that doesn’t help you want to improve your sleep remember the Critical activities that happen during the sleep state
- Internal organs rest and recover, allowing tissue repair, muscle growth! (yes, we want this remember) and protein synthesis primarily occur during sleep
- Hormones that help regulate appetite control, stress, growth, metabolism, and other bodily functions are released. Does this not make you want to fall asleep right now?
- Memory Consolidation occurs, which is essential for learning new information.
But how can we improve it when we are working 12-14-hour days have more responsibilities than ever before PLUS we want to wind down before bed by watching our favourite telly show? Well, unfortunately something must give. Perhaps you could record your favourite TV show to make sure you are getting in bed with enough time to reach 7-9 hours of sleep.
Fortunately, there are a fair few ways you can help improve your sleep and the amount you are getting;
- Avoid high sugary snacks and caffeine in the afternoon. My general rule is 12pm cut off time from consuming caffeine or high sugary snacks.
- Try crowding out large meals at night time with things like yoga, journaling, reading or connecting with a loved one. Digestion requires energy. So, when you have consumed a large meal at night the body will not be able to completely rest as it digest the foods.
- Try some carbohydrates and proteins at night. This was a huge win for me personally with sleep, I introduced 150grams of sweet potato to dinner time and because of the release of tryptophan and serotonin, two brain chemicals involved in helping us sleep.
- Avoid late night beverages, as it will get you up in the middle of the night hindering on your sleep quality.
- Create a bed time ritual – switching of electronics 1 hour before bed and not switching it back on an hour after waking. I use aeroplane mode on my smart phone to help me with this. In that hour I like to do my night rituals to assist with setting up my space. Journaling and writing down my grateful are my favourites. If work is playing on your mind as soon as your u get home from work just write down everything that is on your mind – then disconnect from it. You can’t usually change anything until the next day anyways so there is no point worrying (this is hard but worth remembering)
- Busy thinkers… if you think of anything jot it down in a notebook next to your bed, get it out of your head onto paper.
- Wake up and go to bed similar times every day. Creates routine for your body clock.
I also make sure all my lights are dimmed at night or a yellow light to mimic the night and day. I also make sure my eyes have seen sunlight (not directly of course) throughout the day so my body knows oh yes it was day time even if I was stuck inside all day. I take magnesium for the many benefits it provides and melatonin if my body clock is out from traveling.
If you took one or two of these ideas to assist with your sleep, you may not only improve your health but your mood too. Remember it is consistency that trumps all, we must do something long enough to actually see a difference. Get a head start to your 2019 goals by starting with your sleep today, don’t worry you don’t have to cancel your New Year’s Eve party 😉