How sleepy are you during the day? These are important questions to ask yourself when considering your risk for heart disease, diabetes and depression. Inadequate sleep, either too few hours or inadequate deep sleep, increases your risk for chronic disease. Additionally, lack of sleep leads to alterations in appetite-regulation hormones. During sleep deprivation, ghrelin, a hunger hormone is higher and leptin, a satiety hormone, is lower, resulting in increased appetite and hunger.
Know the Signs
Sleep apnea is one common disorder that results in inadequate sleep. Here are a few signs:
- Breathing or snoring that pauses during the night
- Frequently waking with headaches and/or dry mouth
- Daytime sleepiness such that you could fall asleep at your desk, reading a book, watching a movie or driving
If you experience any two or more of these, talk with your doctor about sleep apnea. If you simply don’t sleep well, and you don’t have apnea, continue to talk to your doctor, nutritionist, psychologist and other health practitioners to find solutions. This is not something to ignore.
Develop a Routine
Without good sleep it is difficult to achieve a vital life full of nourishing food, exercise and healthful stress management habits. Therefore, proper sleep hygiene is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Improve your sleep with these habits:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends.
- Get 15 minutes of sunlight exposure within 30 minutes of waking to promote proper circadian rhythms. Even sitting by a window helps if you cannot get outdoors.
- Exercise daily, ideally outdoors in order to improve circadian rhythm. Stop exercise 4 hours before bed.
- Stop all caffeine at 2 pm or earlier.
- Stop eating 3-4 hours before bed.
- Avoid alcohol 3-4 hours before bed.
- Avoid stimulating or anxiety-provoking activities before bed, such as paying bills, working or having intense conversations with your spouse of family members.
- Do not use computers, laptops, phones or other devices that give off bright light within 1 hour of bedtime. The bright light disrupts brain activity worsening sleep quality by lowering melatonin. This is uniquely important for those of you trying to conceive; melatonin assists with implantation of the embryo.
- Keep your bedroom dark and quiet. Cover the lights from clocks and electrical equipment.
- Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex. Avoid reading books, watching television or using a smart phone in bed.
As you work through the Foolproof Your Ticker Challenge, pay attention to your sleep. If you don’t wake up feeling rested and ready to go everyday, poor sleep could be holding you back. Even athletes attribute good sleep to optimal performance: click here.
Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for personalized nutrition or health advice or healthcare. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read or accessed through this website.