Enough Sleep

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Sleep. We all need it and most of us can’t seem to get enough of it. Sleep does so much for our bodies, much of which we don’t completely understand, but we do know that getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Healthy sleep habits look different for different people. Mainly depending on their chronotype, job and family situations, etc. Take the time to consider your situation. However there are some habits that seem to be true for all.

Amount of Sleep

First and most importantly is the amount of sleep you get each night. Over that past 15 years or so Americans have increased the amount of sleep they get by about 20 minutes per night. This is great and is a reversal of the previous trend. However despite this slight increase, roughly one third of Americans are sleep deprived. The biggest cause of this sleep deprivation is caused by you lying to yourself. Less than 95% of the population can function normally on 6 hours of sleep or less, chances are you are not part of that group.

Benefits of adequate sleep

Put simply, when you get adequate sleep you’ll be healthier. Stop lying to yourself and get more sleep. Time in bed does not equal time asleep. If you need 7 hours of sleep you should spend 8 or more in bed to give yourself time to fall asleep and in case you are up for part(s) of the night. Go 2 weeks of actually sleeping 7 or 8 hours each night and see if that makes a difference in how you feel. If you try this and haven’t been getting enough sleep for a long period of time you’ll notice:
  • You’ll have fewer cravings, especially for junk food

  • You’ll be less moody

  • You’ll be able to get more done/be more productive

  • You’ll build muscle and lose fat more easily

  • You’ll respond better to stress

  • You’ll generally feel better

  • Most of these happen because you’re giving your body the green light that it’s safe to make these changes.

    There are further benefits of consistently getting the right amount of sleep that you may not recognize including:

    • Better hormone levels

    • More insulin sensitivity

    • Better gut health

    • Better HRV and RHR

    These less noticeable benefits are all markers that are driven by and lead to better health. 

    What can you do to get more sleep?

    The answer to getting more sleep is mostly behavioral. 

    Sleep is sabotaged by anything we place at a higher priority than sleep. Ask yourself how important is your sleep? More important than watching a movie? More important than scrolling on your phone? More important than spending time with friends or family? When you’re faced with a decision, think about the situation and decide what is worth missing sleep for. Is staying up an hour longer than usual because a friend is in town worth feeling more moody, dealing with cravings, and being a little less productive the following day? Yeah it probably is. Go into each decision eyes wide open. (pun completely intended) 

    Instead of thinking that sleep is what happens when you are done with what you need to do for the day, plan your sleep like you plan eating, exercise or work. 

     

    What if you just aren’t able to sleep much at all for one reason or another no matter how long you lie in bed. Examine your habits, make the changes you need to, and give your body time to adjust. If after a month or so of practicing good sleep hygiene consistently you are still struggling, you might want to consider seeing a professional. 

    Sleep Hygiene

    What does good sleep hygiene look like? Comically, it’s a lot of what we tell children. “it’s your bedtime.” “Don’t eat that it’ll upset your stomach.” etc. It wouldn’t hurt if you kept those same cautions as an adult. 

    Like any time you are trying to reach a result, you need to set rules or boundaries. Consider what gets in the way of your sleep and what you can do to maneuver around it. 

    Make rules around sleep. Here’s a couple suggestions: ​

    • Limit eating, especially fatty foods before bed.

    • Limit screen time before bed. The blue light can disrupt your sleep cycle.

    • Schedule your sleep. Plan it just like you would any other important event in your life.

    • Be consistent with when you start and stop sleeping this includes weekends. When you get enough sleep every night you won’t have a need to sleep in.

    Stop lying to yourself, do yourself a favor and give your body and mind the sleep it needs.

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