When you think of healthy and balanced living, it's easy to focus on food and exercise but there's a key missing factor that often gets over looked...
Now before you role your eyes and say 'Leah I already know sleep is important!', hear me out.
It's incredibly easily to make sleep you're last priority, and I'm sure your aware and have felt for yourself how a lack of sleep can impact your energy.
But did you know it can impact your eating???
Sleep affects your levels of leptin and ghrelin, which are two hormones that control feelings of hunger and fullness.
When you don't get enough sleep, your brain reduces leptin - which tells you when you've had enough to eat - and increases ghrelin - which stimulates your appetite.
The combination can result in increased hunger and therefore overeating!! Plus, it could easily explain those late night munchies.
Sleep deprivation can also start a process in the body that raises the blood level of a lipid known as endocannabinoid.
This has a similar impact on the brain as marijuana, by making the act of eating even more enjoyable than usual - especially in the evening!
But here's the killer, it actually increases hunger for specific types of foods, such as cookies, candy, and chips!!
In fact, studies have even shown that people who don’t get enough sleep can eat twice as much fat and more than 300 extra calories the next day, compared with those who get the recommended eight hours of sleep.
How crazy is that?!!
It's also important to note that the less time you're a sleep, the more time you have to keep eating - it's as simple as that!
So now you have all the facts...you may be thinking - 'ok Leah, I hear you! But I find it so hard to get to bed on time. What can I do?'
Well my friend, I've got 5 amazing tips to helps you fit in and enjoy more sleep!
Let's get into it...
1) Get clear on your why
Whenever you're trying to establish a new habit, it's important to understand your reasons behind it.
These reasons give you more motivation and inspiration to make the desired change happen, because you recognise the positive impact it's going to have on your life.
So first and foremost, why do you want to get more sleep? How will this impact your life, your health and happiness? How will you feel when you start getting more sleep? What in yourself and in your life will improve?
Take time to note these answers down in your phone or in a journal, and visualise the positive impact.
2) Go backwards
If you're struggling to workout what time you need to get to be and go to sleep, the best thing you can do is FIRST work out what time you want/need to wake up, and then go backwards from there.
If you need to wake up at 6am then to get 8 hours sleep you want to be asleep by 10pm.
If you know it takes you 20 minutes to fall alseep (and this doesn't include time sitting on your phone or reading), then you know you need to be in bed by 9:40pm.
And if you know it takes you 15 minutes to get ready for bed then you need to start brushing your teeth and washing your face by 9:25pm.
You can easily continue to work backwards from here! You may want to add time for a shower or time to wind etc but knowing these times helps to give you clarity and organise your night time activities accordingly.
3) Set night alarms
Everyone knows to set a morning alarm but do you know to set a night alarm?
Night alarms are great for letting you know when it time to get ready for bed and also go to sleep.
You may have an alarm go off at 8:40pm letting you know you have 20 minutes left until it's time to get ready for bed - this way you can begin to wrap up anything you're doing and not feel suddenly rushed later on in the night.
Then at 9:00pm you'll have a second alarm telling you it's time to get ready for bed and enjoy some wind down time e.g. reading, meditating, a nice bath etc.
Finally, at 9:40pm you'll have a final alarm to tell you it's time to turn lights off, put your phone a way, get comfy in bed and close your eyes.
By setting these night alarms, you don't have to keep checking the time or worry about accidentally having a late night because it's already programmed in your calendar to remind you.
It's amazing how a bit of organisation can be so freeing.
4) Wind down
I'm a big fan of wind down time. For me, this is key to relaxing my body and mind, and getting them ready for bed.
My favourite way to wind down is a bath.
I love getting all my candles out and essential oils - lavender is perfect for preparing for bed -, and then pouring myself a nice warm bath to soak in, while listening to a guided mediation.
My days can get so crazy - and I'm sure your's can too - so these 20-40 minutes are amazing!
What you do in your wind down time is completely up to you!
Simply focus on activities that will help you relax and get ready bed, such as meditation, journaling, reading, ying yoga, cuddling with your pet, spending time with your partner, drawing, having a cup of tea, listening to music etc
While it's tempting, I recommend you try to not watch too much Netflix or TV, or be on your phone or laptop during this time.
At night, light throws off your body's biological clock—the circadian rhythm - because it thinks it's still day time! And, therefore isn't ready for bed, which is why you may find it hard to fall asleep after spending time in front of a screen.
5) Move your body
Exercise is AMAZING for sleep! Even just 20-30 minutes a day can help enjoy a more restful sleep.
I mean it makes sense, doesn't it?! When you exercise you expel energy, and therefore helps you to feel more tired and ready to rest at the end of each day.
Research also shows that regular exercise, can help to boost sleep duration and quality, as well as enable you too spend more time in deep sleep!
Sounds pretty amazing hey?
So there you go! I hope all this information and tips helps you to prioritise your sleep and enjoy deeper rest.
Be sure to let me know any comments you have! I love hearing from you and reading your beautiful messages.