Finally Get the Sleep You Need to Live Your Best Life
15 Tips for the Best Sleep Ever
With coffee shops on nearly every corner, energy drinks in every gas station, and phrases like “I can sleep when I’m dead” inundating our society, it’s no wonder so many of us are downright exhausted. Our fixation on productivity and staying busy has resulted in pushing rest, relaxation, and most importantly, sleep, to the back burner.
But what effect does this constant “on the go” lifestyle have on our health?
If you’ve ever spent the night tossing and turning, you know the effects of sleep deprivation are real. But missing out on a good night's sleep does more than make you feel grumpy and out of sorts. The long-term effects of sleep deprivation are quite serious.
In fact, if the human body is deprived of food and sleep, you would die of sleep deprivation long before you’d die of starvation!
Why Sleep Is So Important
We can literally die from lack of sleep – it’s that important.
Science still doesn't completely understand the precise function of sleep. But considering we spend anywhere from a quarter to a third of our lives sleeping, there's no denying that sleep is more than a little important.
We used to think sleep was a passive time, where the body and mind were essentially dormant until we woke up. But this couldn't be further from the truth.
During sleep, the brain and body are engaged in a number of activities crucial for life. Sleep is like your body’s chance to recharge and rejuvenate. During sleep our bodies:
- Repair damaged cells and tissues
- Re-balance hormones and neurotransmitters
- Reorganize and process events and information from the previous day
Throughout sleep, your body will cycle between two distinct types of sleep, each one having a specific function. The two phases of sleep are:
- REM (rapid eye movement) sleep: This is considered “deep sleep” and is when we dream.
- Non-REM sleep: We do not dream during Non-REM sleep and there are 3 different and distinct stages
During sleep, your body repeatedly cycles through REM and Non-REM sleep. In a typical night, your body will go through about 4 or 5 cycles. Both types of sleep are crucial and can negatively impact your health if you’re not getting enough.
What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?We can all attest to the fact that a poor night’s sleep leaves us looking and feeling less than our best. But consistently not getting enough shut-eye can do a whole lot more than cause those dark circles under your eyes.
Studies have found that lack of sleep can negatively impact just about every aspect of your life. Let’s take a look at just a few of the ways lack of sleep can negatively impact your health.
Lack of Sleep Can Tank Your Immune System
Ever notice that you get really tired when you have a cold or flu? That’s because sleep is vital for immune function. Your body knows this and signals you to get some rest so your immune system can be restored and get to work on fighting off pathogens.
Even a minor amount of sleep deprivation can tank your immune system's ability to fight off infections.1 One study found that people who got less than 7 hours of sleep at night were three times more likely to contract the common cold than people who slept at least 8 hours each night.2
Sleep Deprivation Makes It Hard to Think Straight
If you’ve ever tried to perform a challenging task that requires lots of concentration when you’re running low on sleep, you’ve experienced firsthand how sleep deprivation can impact your brain. Adequate sleep is vital for memory, concentration, and productivity.
Studies have found that sleep deprivation can have such a negative impact on brain function that the effects are equivalent to alcohol intoxication.3 Which means drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it’s estimated that in 2013 alone, drowsy driving was responsible for:
- 72,000 vehicle crashes
- 44,000 vehicle-related injuries
- 800-6,000 vehicle-related deaths
Lack of Sleep Puts You at Higher Risk for Chronic Disease
If you’re regularly cutting your sleep short, you could be setting yourself up for long-term health concerns. Sleep deprivation increases your risk for:
- Heart disease 4
- Stroke 4
- Insulin resistance 5,6
- Type 2 diabetes 7,8
To make matters worse, poor sleep is linked with increased systemic inflammation.9,10 Chronic systemic inflammation has been linked as one of the root causes of virtually all chronic diseases known to mankind.
Sleep Deprivation Can Make You Fat
Studies have found that people who are consistently avoiding enough shut-eye tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate rest. So much so, that poor sleep is one of the biggest risk factors for obesity.
One study looking at the correlation between lack of sleep and obesity uncovered some startling statistics. Children and adults with chronic short sleep duration were respectively 89% and 59% more likely to become obese.11
The correlation between obesity and sleep deprivation is likely due to a number of factors. Sleep plays an important role in hormone regulation, appetite, insulin sensitivity, and energy levels – all of which impact weight gain.12
Poor Sleep Is Linked to Depression and Suicide
Lack of sleep has even been strongly linked to mental disorders such as depression. In fact, it is estimated that 90% of people struggling with depression also have difficulty sleeping, and poor sleep has even been linked to higher rates of suicide.13,14
To make matters worse, being chronically tired can make it difficult to engage with and connect with others, which can further exacerbate feelings of depression and isolation. When you’re tired, your brain has increased difficulty interacting with others and picking up on social cues, and it negatively impacts your ability to process emotional information.
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
While 8 hours tend to be the golden standard when it comes to sleep time, there are no hard and fast rules. Everyone’s body and sleep needs are unique and may even vary depending on the time of year or what is going on in your life.
Sleep duration isn’t the only thing you need to be worried about though. The quality of your sleep is just as important as the number of hours you are counting.
Sleep quality refers to how restful your sleep actually is. Some determinants of quality sleep include:
- Falling asleep within 30 minutes
- Sleeping soundly through the night without waking up more than once
- Falling back to sleep within 20-30 minutes if you are woken up
The best way to gauge whether or not you are getting enough quality sleep is to tune in and listen to your body. When you wake up in the morning, do you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day? Or do you feel groggy, cranky, and fatigued when you roll out of bed?
Do you find yourself needing to down several cups of coffee or an energy drink before you feel alert? Do you find yourself frequently dozing off when you’re in a meeting?
Your body and the way you feel on a day-to-day basis are the best indicators as to whether or not you’re getting enough sleep. It’s important to note, however, that although sleep needs may vary, most adults need anywhere from 6 to 9 hours of quality sleep in a 24-hour period.
How Modern Life Affects Your Sleep
I know, you’re probably wondering, who the heck has time to sleep 9 hours a night? Unfortunately, our fast-paced modern-day lifestyles have made sleep seem like a luxury to many.
It wasn’t more than a generation or 2 ago that the average person was getting 9 to 10 hours of sleep. They were getting up with the sun and going to bed shortly after it went down. We are built to live within a natural rhythm that is designed to keep our internal systems balanced.
As life evolved towards our modern time, we've found a way to make the night into day and have found ways to squeeze in longer and longer workdays in the name of getting more done. On top of the stress of “getting more done,” we are constantly exposed to artificial light. From city lights to cell phones and television, it’s no wonder our bodies are confused.
Insomnia has reached epidemic proportions, sleeping pills had sales of $5 billion in 2010, and these numbers are only growing. It’s evident that our modern-day life is not working in our favor. Luckily, there are some things you can do to combat modern life dynamics depriving you of precious sleep.
What Is Sleep Hygiene and Why Is It Important?
While the word hygiene might make you think of washing your hands or brushing your teeth, sleep hygiene is different. Sleep hygiene is simply a set of habits and routines you practice before going to sleep.
Whether you practice sleep hygiene that is good or not so good is totally up to you. For example, regularly pulling "all-nighters" or playing on your cell phone until 2 AM are likely not habits that are going to help you get a good night's rest.
Getting in the habit of practicing sleep hygiene that supports optimal sleep is one of the very best things you can do for your overall health. And establishing these habits is actually pretty simple. Here are 15 tips to help you practice good sleep hygiene and get your best sleep ever.
15 Tips to Getting Better Sleep
Reduce Screen Time in the Evening
Avoid watching television or using electronics such as your cell phone or laptop at least 1 hour before bedtime. The stimulation and blue light emitted from these electronics stimulates your brain and can make it difficult to wind down and get to sleep.
Keep Your Room Dark
Even a small amount of light can trick your brain into thinking the sun is up and signal your body that it’s supposed to awake. Keep your lights off, cover up any light emitted from electronics (like your cell phone or television), and use blackout shades to keep outside light from seeping in.
Keep Cell Phones out of the Bedroom
The light emitted from digital devices is incredibly bright and can make it difficult for your body to drift off to sleep. On top of that, text messages, phone calls, or frequent notifications on your cell phone can interrupt your sleep cycle and negatively impact your quality of sleep. Prioritize quality sleep by investing in an inexpensive alarm clock and keep cell phones out of the bedroom. If this isn’t an option, at the very least cover your phone to avoid light exposure and silence all notifications.
Don’t Go to Bed with a Full Stomach
Eating a large meal just before bedtime enables discomfort and delays timely-quality sleep by interrupting your sleep cycles. Avoiding large meals close to bedtime allows your body to rest, repair, and rebalance during sleep instead of expending energy digesting food.
Get More Aligned with the Sun
Our “circadian” rhythms are designed to be in alignment with the sun. In an ideal world, we would all be waking up with the sun and going to bed shortly after sunset. Obviously, this is not always realistic, but making an effort to stick to a more natural sleep pattern can go a long way in improving the quality of your sleep.
Stick to a Schedule
Creating and following a sleep schedule will help your body get into a routine and make falling asleep and staying asleep easier. Try going to bed and waking up around the same time every day.
Try a Magnesium Supplement
Magnesium is a fantastic supplement for sleep as it has a calming effect on the body. Try taking a magnesium supplement in the evening before bed to stimulate your body to relax.
Stress and sleep are strongly linked. Chronic stress severely disrupts your duration and quality of sleep. Being proactive and finding ways to manage stress is one of the best ways to ensure you get restful sleep.
Try Using Candlelight in the Evenings
The blue lights from screens are not the only lights that can stimulate your brain to stay awake at night. Even the light emitted from bulbs can have a stimulating effect on the body. The light from candles is much softer and using candlelight for an hour or two before bedtime can help tell your brain it’s time to begin winding down.
Set Your Bedroom Temperature
Some studies have found that body temperature directly correlates with sleep quality. Our body temperature naturally lowers when we sleep, so sleeping in a cool room helps signal our body it’s time for rest. The best temperature for falling and staying asleep is in the mid-60's.
Get Some Exercise – Just Not Before Bed
Your body wants to be active and moving during the day. Getting adequate exercise will make you physically tired and ready for rest. Just try not to exercise too close to bedtime as it may energize you and make it even harder to drift off to sleep. Click here to check out some fun and functional workouts you can complete anywhere!
Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
The standard American diet is chock full of sugars, fast-absorbing carbohydrates, and chemicals that can be stimulating to the brain and cause systemic inflammation. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet rich in natural whole foods can help your body restore balance and promote better sleep. One of the simplest and healthiest ways to adopt an anti-inflammatory, sleep-friendly diet, is to follow the Paleo diet. Click here to read more about the benefits of the Paleo diet.
Relax and Clear Your Mind
Developing a bedtime routine that helps you relax and clear your mind before bedtime is a great way to ensure you get a restful night’s sleep. Some things you might try:
- Avoiding the news or social media close to bedtime
- A warm bath
- Deep breathing
- Soothing music
- Gentle stretching
- Reading a good book
- A cup of soothing herbal tea
While alcohol might make you feel drowsy and drift off to sleep initially, it actually disrupts your sleep cycle and doesn’t allow you to get adequate REM sleep. And of course, having caffeine late in the day can amp up your nervous system and tell your body it’s time to wake up instead of it’s time to go to bed.
Try a Cold Shower in the Morning
Taking a cold shower within the first few minutes of waking up is a surefire way to make sure you’re wide awake for the day. It also jumpstarts your cortisol production and helps it return to an optimal cycle which will help you sleep at night. Try lasting 3-5 minutes and not reacting to the cold.
Are You Ready to Reset Your Health?
Getting an adequate amount of high-quality sleep is one of the pillars of health. It can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling like sleep is a luxury that you just can’t afford. But the truth is you can’t afford to deny your body the rest it needs.
Our stress-filled, fast-paced, unnatural lifestyles have left many of us disconnected from the natural rhythm and cycles our bodies are designed to not just survive but thrive on. So how do we fight back against the pressures of modern-day life and realign with our roots to find the vibrant health we are all searching for?
The best place to start is with a reset. You see, each of us is unique and there is no “one size fits all” approach that is going to help you achieve the healthiest version of you. The first step in creating the healthiest version of yourself is to restore your hormones, metabolism, and natural sleep cycle back to their original settings so your body can function the way it is designed to.
That is why we created the 30 Day NativeBody Reset – To teach you how to reconnect with natural ways of eating, moving, and living to help you find your own unique native path to whole-body health.
This isn't some cookie-cutter or quick-fix diet. NativeBody Reset is a program designed to help you align your diet and lifestyle choices with your unique biological makeup to fully express the abundant health, effortless weight loss, and invigorating energy levels that nature encoded all of us to experience.
This 30-day program is backed by rigorous scientific research and thousands of personal testimonies from people just like you who have completely transformed their health. So, are you ready to reconnect with your roots and find YOUR native path to whole-body health? If so, click here to get started with your NativeBody Reset today.