In addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise, getting enough restful sleep is the most important thing you can do for your health.
If I’m not getting a decent night’s sleep, I really feel it the next day… my husband tries to drag me out of bed for my morning power walk, I’m irritable, grumpy and both my digestion and immune system suffers. Mostly it’s self-inflicted from either working late on the computer, shooting for my next cookbook or staying up watching my favourite drama shows.
Studies have conclusively shown us that people need 8 hours of sleep a night to function optimally. Yet many of us are getting fewer than 6 hours of sleep each night. I also find that I literally start craving foods I don’t normally eat that are high in fat and sugar, causing my mood and hormones to get out of wack!
Sleep deprivation affects literally every cell and organ system in the body. Not getting enough sleep is associated with everything from obesity to diabetes to autoimmune disease to Alzheimer’s. The bottom line is that it’s impossible to reach your healthiest self if you don’t get enough sleep.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Studies show that a lack of sleep interferes with normal mind and body function. It may compromise a healthy mental state, the immune and nervous systems, and your sense of wellbeing. Those who don’t get enough sleep suffer from irritability; mood disorders including anxiety and depression, headaches, daytime drowsiness, impaired functioning and task performance, decreased concentration and memory, increased risk of alcohol and other substance abuse, weight gain or weight loss, diabetes and heart conditions.
According to research by the Sleep Health Foundation, sleeping less than six or seven hours on average per night may increase the risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
WHAT CAUSES LACK OF SLEEP
There are many contributing factors to not getting enough sleep… I know that for me personally, it’s mostly work related, anxiety or my hormones.
For others it could be medications, menopause, jet lag, stress, depression or even the use of electronic devices late at night before bed.
THE SOLUTION – HOW TO GET A GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP
One of the most important tips I’ve learnt for a good night’s sleep is to properly unwind and nurture my body into a restful state in the evening. If I’m exercising at night, I have to make sure I’m properly hydrated before bed. I’ve had a few occasions when I’ve woken up in the middle of the night due to electrolyte imbalance and dehydration.
HAVE A BEDTIME RITUAL
I love a nice warm epsom salts bath scented with a few drops of lavender oil. It’s important to nurture my body and practise self-care as I wind down for the night.
I also enjoy a nice pot of Healthy Chef Relax + Renew tea, which has calmative properties coming from lemon balm, peppermint and lavender blossom, to help me just relax. If I’m craving something decadant and creamy, I’ll often have my Turmeric Latte or Healthy Drinking Chocolate as an anti-inflammatory and protein rich elixir that helps calm my nervous system.
Going to bed at the same time is the most important thing you can do to establish good sleep habits. I often stay up late on weekends, expecting to make up my sleep the next day, but this practice often disrupts my rhythm so I fall behind during the week.
REDUCE YOUR STRESS
Stress is one of the most common causes of sleep disorders so learning to relax is key. I often find that I can’t switch off my racing mind and in turn have trouble sleeping. Simple strategies such as deep breathing exercises and meditation – trying to clear the mind – really helps to feel calmer.
BOOST YOUR SUPERFOODS
If you’re already at the point of chronic fatigue or you generally just feel run down and can’t get restful sleep, it’s essential to get your immunity back on track to support your body’s repair process. I’ve talked a lot about this in my previous post, How To Reduce Stress + Heal Your Immune System.
I focus on a plant-based diet, high in antioxidants as well as prebiotics, to nourish my digestive system. Healthy Chef Organic Superfood provides wonderful support for your general health and wellbeing. It provides a boost of antioxidants from pure wholefoods that is quickly absorbed by the body – especially good when your immune system is compromised.
DRINKS TO PROMOTE SLEEP
Herbal teas can help to promote a good night’s sleep. I sleep well when I avoid caffeine and drink warm restorative teas throughout the day and night. Infusions such Ginger Snap Chai or Turmeric Latte gently heat the body and can promote a calmative state before bedtime.
Right now, however, I can’t get enough of Healthy Chef Turmeric Latte with my homemade almond and macadamia milk. Turmeric Latte is my absolute favourite drink other than a hot tea. It’s comforting, relaxing, and soothing, especially if you’re highly stressed like me! Turmeric Latte is also extremely nutritious and is rich in antioxidants to help heal and nourish my digestive and immune system.
Alternatively, especially during these cold winter months, I love to unwind at the end of the day with my Healthy Hot Chocolate. This drink is comforting, nourishing and full of magnesium from the cacao, which helps calm the nervous system.
DON’T OVEREAT AT NIGHT TIME
Your metabolism slows down in the late afternoon, so having a light dinner is one of the most important keys to getting a good night sleep. If I get home late from the gym, I’ll often have a small protein shake for dinner which nourishes my body but doesn’t bloat you out… giving me a chance to recover and rebuild whilst I sleep.