7 Dos and Don’ts for a Better Night’s Sleep
Sleep is so underrated. A good night’s sleep is a key factor for overall good health, ability to cope with stress, brain function, and more. When we sleep our body is hard at work repairing and revitalizing the body. With too few hours of sleep, or consistently disturbed sleep, we are taking this opportunity away from the body, and the consequences won’t take long to manifest.
Poor quality, insufficient and/or inconsistent sleep can take a toll on our health in many ways.
Negative effects of poor sleep may include:
- Higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol
- Poor impulse control
- Lack of focus
- Irregular mood and irritability
- Weakened immunity
- High blood pressure
- Lessened ability to focus and retain memory
- Heightened risk of anxiety and depression
- And more
In relation to nutrition, poor sleep has been connected to increased cravings for high fat and sugar foods throughout the day. In addition, when we stay up late we are more likely to snack when not hungry, leading again to poor sleep (a vicious cycle!).
In addition, there is some evidence to suggest that low fibre and high saturated fat diets may lessen the nightly amount of deep, restorative sleep, and excess consumption of sugar may cause frequent awakening throughout the night.
So it works both ways! We have to eat a balanced, nutritious diet to help us sleep better, and we have to sleep better to help manage our cravings, caloric intake, and the quality of our food choices in our waking hours.
What can you do?
Work on establishing a bedtime routine that you look forward to. Here are some suggestions:
- Getting in regular exercise, ideally 30 or more minutes per day.
- Having a cup of chamomile or lavender tea 1–2 hours before bed.
- Yin yoga or gentle stretching and/or a hot bath 30–60 minutes before bed.