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So how are you doing on those New Year’s Resolutions and goals you decided on just a week or so ago?
If you’re like the vast majority of people…you may already be struggling. I know I’ve already stopped eating sugar and started and stopped again several times…and it’s just the second week! Seriously.
Since most of us have improved health somewhere on our list of areas to improve, I thought I’d encourage you to start with something very simple.
Go to bed earlier.
Yup, get your sleep. The experts tell us the average adult needs anywhere from 7-9 hours a night. Chances are you probably fall somewhere in the middle, with 7 – 8 hours being the most common sweet spot.
Last year as I lost 40 lbs., (only 10 have found me again), I made sleep a super high priority and discovered my sweet spot (when I didn’t need an alarm to wake me up) was right at 7.5 hours.
Recent studies like this one are very clear that a lack of sleep tricks your body into becoming more insulin resistant, which in turn creates a toxic environment ripe for pre-diabetes.
Dr. Mark Mahowald, MD, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Hennepin County Minnesota puts it this way, “There is some evidence that sleep deprivation could lead to pre-diabetic state,” According to Mahowald, the body’s reaction to sleep loss can resemble insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
Even worse, one study notes, “sleep deprivation has direct effects on eating behavior; sleep-deprived humans also show increased appetite, particularly for high-carbohydrate, calorie-rich foods.” Yikes!
So if you’re doing all the work of eliminating the foods that harm your system, do yourself a favor and don’t negate your awesome food choices by staying up late!
Here are a few suggestions to help if getting to bed earlier is a challenge for you.
Start your evening ritual earlier. I know sometimes I’m so worn out the thought of washing my face and brushing my teeth actually makes me avoid getting ready for bed! To counteract the issue, I’ll go ahead and wash my face and brush my teeth when the kids do around 7:30, so that I’m one step ahead on heading to bed.
Happy side effect: You’ll cut down on late night snacking. Once my teeth are clean, for some reason, my urge to eat dissipates.
Track your sleep. You might be surprised at how little you are actually getting. (Just like estimating how much we eat, we usually overestimate the amount of sleep we get.) There are many tech tools you can use, like a FitBit or IWatch, or of course you can use the dependable pen and paper. Keep a log for a week or two and see how you’re doing.
Happy Side effect: You may become more intentional to get your 8 hours since you’re writing it down. The strategy of monitoring has the positive effect of helping us do more of what we want to do. In this case, get more sleep.
Make your room an environment conducive to sleeping. Declutter. Get comfy sheets and pillows. Eliminate all light. Did you know that your cells actually “read” light? I know. Crazy, but true. Put your phone on airplane mode so it’s not making noise and sending signals all night. Keep the room cool. The optimum temperature is between 60 – 68 degrees. Save your bed for sleeping and the other fun activity (ahem)
Happy side effect: You’ll smile each time you walk in the room and you’ll sleep better.
We have a long way to go this year. I want to encourage you to set the foundation for success by getting more sleep.
Question: What’s your pattern with sleep? Do you get enough? Are you chronically sleep deprived? What are you hacks to help you get more? Leave a reply and let me know.