If you have trouble falling asleep at night, or find yourself waking up in the wee hours of the morning and can’t fall back to sleep right away, chances are you’re not waking up in the morning feeling your best. Getting a restful sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your body, but so many of us are plagued by sleep disturbances, some of which we cannot control, and some that we can.
While you sleep and rest your brain is doing the opposite. It’s producing hormones called melatonin and growth hormone that help repair cells, building memory, processing new information, reducing inflammation and helping the body literally clean house as things get flushed through your lymphatic system.
Sleep Deprivation Makes These Health Issues Worse
Having trouble shedding that extra weight? Poor sleep may just be a contributing factor. Getting enough sleep helps maintain a balance in the levels of hormones that increase appetite, burn fat, and help increase lean body mass. Secretion of these hormones increases during deep sleep.
Do you seem to catch every cold and flu that makes the rounds? Lack of sleep lowers immune system function, including the natural killer cells, leaving you more vulnerable to illness and disease.
Have you ever noticed how much grumpier you are after a poor night’s sleep? There is a strong relationship between quality of sleep and mood. Poor sleep may not necessarily be a cause of depression and anxiety but it definitely makes symptoms worse. Women suffering from post partum depression have a particularly difficult time due to the chronic sleep deprivation that comes with having a newborn. Poor sleep health can increase anxiety, irritability, impatience, and inability to concentrate.
Staying up late to cram for a test or exam may backfire. Through a process called memory consolidation, sleep can help your brain sort through new information and commit it to memory. If you’re trying to learn or do anything new you’re better off getting a good night’s sleep.
Address The Cause Of Your Poor Sleep
If you’re having a tough time falling asleep or staying asleep (both are types of insomnia) consider your diet and lifestyle as contributing factors before reaching for a prescription sleeping aid.
Medication won’t address the root cause of your sleeplessness, which could include:
use of technological devices (tablets, computers, phones) too close to bedtime
Lifestyle Changes For Better Sleep Health
Start by making lifestyle changes that increase your relaxation leading up to bedtime – turn down the lights, drink a cup of relaxing herbal tea, or maybe even do some breathing exercises.
Consider cutting down (or cutting out altogether) the amount of alcohol you consume in the evening. You may think that’s it’s relaxing you, but in reality, it’s interfering with your deep sleep and may be causing you to be more restless. Also, make sure that you are sleeping in total darkness by using blackout curtains, removing night-lights, and turning down the light emitted by clock radios.
Most of my clients find that simply changing what they’re eating quickly changes the quality of sleep that they’re getting, so if you’re having sleep issues don’t despair! Making some simple changes could yield big results. If you’re not sure where to start consider working with someone to help you start getting a better night sleep simply through diet and lifestyle changes.