Is Lack of Sleep Keeping You From Better Health?
Personal Observations and Tips For A Better Nights Sleep
Written by Teri Market, Miracle Noodle Ambassador and Personal Trainer
Sleep. Ugh. Why is this the hardest thing to balance in my life? I get so tired at the end of the day that I have a problem moving from the couch, to head upstairs and crawl into bed.
Am I the only one who faces this? I'll end up not hitting my pillow until way past my bedtime. In our home, my husband has set our Alexa to announce when it's time for bed. Last night, I made it! It only took three months...sheesh. What are some of the reasons I cannot get my hind-end to bed? I'll tell you straight up.
For me, it's my brain. I feel like I have a hyperactive gerbil in there who won't get off the wheel. Ideas flow all the time. I have notebooks strewn around the house with just ideas and concepts. I have to get them out on paper, or I would never get to bed.
That brings me to some tips for you. But first, hear me out on why you need to sleep.
Why is sleep so important?
Well, I wouldn't advise operating heavy machinery on a lack of it, that's for sure! Sleep can affect cognitive ability, motor skills, mood, and ability to handle stress. It can lead to weight gain, throw you off balance, increase your risk for high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes, take your immunity down a peg or two, and crush sex drive (Pietrangelo and Watson, August 2014).
Yup. I went there. Are you paying attention now? LOL! It's a real deal.
I've had almost all of these happen to me. The weight gain that can happen is a reality. Your body can reduce cortisol levels if you get enough sleep. If you consistently lack sleep, your cortisol levels can become elevated, creating a problem with stabilizing blood sugar levels.
What else happens to me? Unfortunately, when I do not get a minimum of 7 hours (it should be 8, but let's be realistic), I tend to get cranky, scatterbrained, and I take it out on my husband. #badwife. My patience for the cat and his meowing for wet food will suddenly drive me up the wall, and if I have to scrape ice off my windshield one more time.......gaaaaahhhahahaa.
See what I mean? All of a sudden I become a monster. I swear the whole neighborhood heard my disdain for scrapper at 7:45 am. "It's March. I should not need to deal with frost anymore!", says the Minnesotan. I've even had slurred speech from lack of zzzzzs.
Other side effects are consistently losing my keys, phone, or whatever I-need-right-now! Also, my workouts become subpar, and then the caffeine beast rears its ugly head to just get me through the day. Then, the caffeine keeps me wired. We have come full circle!
So what can I do about it? What can you do about it? Here are ways to get geared up to throttle down:
- Get a notebook. Seriously. Jot down everything you need to do for the next day, and have it ready for you. If it's down on paper - you can put a mental "hold" on it for awhile. Heck, keep one next to your bed. I do this on the regular.
- Get away from the screen. So what some of you may not know is outside of being a personal trainer, I'm the social media manager for Miracle Noodle. Hello! We may have typed before. Social media is 24/7, but recently I had to start saying at 8 PM CST - 9 PM at the latest, the phone shuts down.
While I pride myself on response time and I love talking to all our fans and helping those who ask for help, I have to create balance. You, my dear reader, need to create balance as well.
Get away from your smart/dumb devices 2 hours before bed. There are settings on smartphones to allow only specific contacts to come through. Check into those settings if you are "on-call" for certain people in your life. AKA - your Mother.
- Meditation. This is a goal for me. 2018 is going to be the year this lady learns meditation. For 10 minutes each day, I am going to try and find calm. This doesn't need to happen right before bed, but it is still beneficial for sleep. Look up breathing techniques and exercises to help create a tranquil environment for yourself. Then apply these concepts to bedtime!
- Coloring. I've said it before, I'll say it again. I color. If I am not ready for bed, the pencils come out, and I bring out a pile of coloring books. One is old school Wonder Woman comics; another is mandalas, another is inspirational wording.
- Reading. OK, maybe not a major suspense novel, but something that will take you out of your current place and transport you. Take your mind off your day. Even if it's one of those romance novels with a guy on the cover with way better hair than anyone you've ever met. Cue Fabio. Wait, you don't know who Fabio is? Google him and come back. I'll be here.
- If the above is not working, I suggest a non-habit forming sleep aid. I have used a ZMA (zinc, magnesium acetate) supplement and I have used ZzzQuil. Both have sufficiently taken me to sleepy town. As always, make sure there are no medical issues when taking supplements.
Melatonin is one as well, but I caution people against it if they are dealing with hormone imbalance, depression, or live in a state that has little daylight during the winter months. It can have negative effects in some people with the conditions mentioned above at play.
- White noise or sound machines. You know, for some reason, a good ol' thunderstorm will put me at ease. For some of us, we need a little background noise. You can also find apps for this as well.
The previous brings me to apps. Calm is one that is getting a lot of buzz. Here is a list of others that may prove helpful to you:
Apps for a Better Night's Sleep
- Warm shower, then cool bed. The act of coming from warm to cool will help your body get ready for sleep! How cool should your room be? The National Sleep Foundation recommends 60 - 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Try self-acupressure. There are trigger points on your body that can help you fall asleep. I found this article extremely helpful and descriptive in finding the places to press: 4 Pressure Points to Help You Fall Asleep Instantly.
There are many recommended ideas out there. The point I am trying to make is that for your sanity and the safety of yourself and others around you, sleep is needed. Who knows? It could be that lack of sleep is the one thing keeping you from living a healthy and happy life because of the side-effects that come along with it.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment on the blog, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can help point out resources, or maybe you just want to talk about your experience. I'm here!
Teri Market is a Certified Personal Trainer with a Diploma in Nutrition. She is also a Physique Competitor and Powerlifter. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat at @fcpchick.
Pietrangelo, Ann, and Watson, Stephanie, 2014, August 19th). The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body. Medically reviewed by Weatherspoon, Deborah, Ph.D., RN, CRNA (2017, June 5th). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-deprivation/effects-on-body#1