I consistently see clients trying to ignore or outrun the most important element in their health routine: consistent high-quality sleep. Check out our segment on ABC 7 Let’s Talk Live and hear a summary of these tips.
Sleep should not be underestimated – it’s when our brains detoxify, our nervous systems rest, and our bodies heal. Without regular deep sleep, we are on track to get hormonal imbalances, weight gain, mood swings, brain fog, and so many other preventable symptoms. I found myself a victim of consistently poor sleep and I suffered the consequences.
We live in DC and so many of our clients are in high power, high pressure jobs. They pride themselves on productivity, and see sleep as a nuisance that gets in the way of work, family, TV, the Internet, email, and exercise. They then fall into the cycle of making up this lack of sleep by filling up with sugar, refined carbs, caffeine, and other stimulants to get more energy. But if we just prioritized a good night’s rest every single night, we would have all the energy we need to take on our day and do the things that we want to do, without relying on foods that rob our health.
Inadequate sleep can quickly sabotage your efforts at getting healthy and losing weight. Sleep is a major cornerstone for an energetic, joyful, healthy life. Not getting enough sleep or getting poor-quality sleep adversely affects hormones that make you hungry and store fat.
One study found just one partial night’s sleep could create insulin resistance, paving the path for diabesity and many other problems. Others show poor sleep contributes to cardiovascular disease, mood disorders, poor immune function, and lower life expectancy.
I experienced first hand that lack of sleep adversely impacts my health. I know I have to make sleep a priority, so I give myself a goal to get seven or eight hours of sleep every night. Trust me, I know what a challenge that can become. Here are a few things I do to achieve a better night’s sleep:
- I avoid any caffeine after 1 pm – this is a strict rule that I rarely break.
- The colder the room the better
- The darker the room the better – bright light can disrupt brain activity and alter sleep hormones like melatonin. Your bedroom should be a quiet, peaceful haven.
- Blue light glasses – I have also adopted using blue light glasses at night. Low blue spectrum light helps your brain reset for sleep and increase melatonin.
- I try to use an acupressure mat. This helps stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and create deep relaxation. Lay on it for about 30 or more minutes before bed.
- Every night, I religiously take magnesium and ashwaganda before bed. I only buy high quality supplements by the way.
It’s all fun and games until someone has a sugar crash right? You can experience a crash after eating a high amount of carbohydrates, especially simple sugars such as cake, ice cream or candy. Although we need sugar, it also needs the amount of sugar to remain at a consistent level.
A crash happens when the body has more sugar than it’s used to, it rapidly produces insulin in an attempt to keep the levels consistent. This causes blood glucose to decrease, which results in a sudden drop in energy levels, or a sugar crash.
With this drastic drop in energy, you can experience:
- difficulty concentrating
- excess sweat
The best way to avoid sugar crashes is to incorporate balance by keeping blood glucose levels consistent, which can be done by balancing meals with the appropriate amounts of protein sources, fiber and fats:
- Eat a variety of foods. To keep blood glucose levels consistent, keep a balance of all major food groups and nutrients. All meals and snacks eaten throughout the day should include a mix of protein, fiber, carbohydrates and fat. If a high-carb meal or snack is consumed without any sources of protein, fiber or fat, blood glucose levels drop. This drop causes a sugar crash.
- If you’re going to eat simple sugars, eat them with or after other meals. Simple sugars are foods that contain refined sugars and very few essential vitamins and minerals. Examples of foods that contain simple sugars include fruit juice, milk, desserts and candy. Avoid a sugar crash by making sure to eat them with foods containing fat, fiber and protein.
- Eat less but more often. Eat smaller portions every two to three hours throughout the day. Continue to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, but eat smaller portions at those meals and incorporate two to three snacks a day in between those staple meals.
- Don’t restrict any foods. Avoid overindulging but enjoy it all. Consume all foods, drinks and desserts in moderation, especially simple carbohydrates/sugars. Just be sure to eat your simple sugars with other nutrient-dense meals to avoid a sugar crash.
- Plan your meals. To ensure each meal or snack includes an appropriate balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat, plan meals ahead of time.
Fixing a crash? The body needs protein to balance out blood glucose levels. Great snacks to pack and have with you if possible.
- Hard-Boiled Eggs.
- Yogurt with Berries.
- Handful of almonds
- Sliced apples with peanut butter
To your good health and sleep!!