How many hours of sleep do you get each night? You know, between frightened kids, colicky babies, anxious animals, a snoring spouse and unplanned bathroom meetings. Oh wait! I should have asked, how many hours of uninterrupted restorative sleep do you get each night? That is usually a different story, isn’t it?
While coaching clients toward their health goals, this is often an area that is overlooked yet it has a profound effect on all other areas of our health.
According to one of my mentors, Dr. Wayne Andersen,
Inadequate sleep—less than seven hours a night—can also contribute to weight gain. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body secretes more ghrelin (a hormone that increases appetite) and less leptin (a hormone that signals you to stop eating when you’re full).
Getting quality sleep can prevent junk-food cravings, too. Sleep loss can result in a deficit of the feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin, causing an increased hunger for sugary, calorie-laden foods.
So what can you do to ensure you get the best sleep possible? Here are 3 simple steps to help you create optimal sleep in your life taken from coaching material found in Dr. A’s Habits of Health:
Step 1: Find your Chronotype – are you a lark or an owl? Are you active and alert early in the day or do you prefer to stay up late? If most of your sleep occurs at the wrong time of day it’s harder to get the rest you need.
Step 2: Set a Bedtime – Count back from the time you need to get up in the morning for work or other responsibilities (7 hours for a woman and 8 hours for a man). That’s when you should be asleep. Your actual bedtime – when all lights and other electronic devices are off marks the beginning of the falling-asleep time.
Step 3: Set Your Routine – Set each day so your optimal health pattern is in place as soon as you are out of bed.
During the Day:
- Get out of bed – limit in-bed activities and get moving!
- Limit caffeine – once noon hits, limit or avoid anything caffeinated and make sure absolutely no caffeine within 3 hours of sleep time
- Eat responsibly – avoid eating within 3 hours of sleeping
- Say no to naps – for adults napping is a recipe for sleep disruption especially if it happens for longer than an hour
In the Evening:
- Decrease stimulation – lower ambient light several hours before bed, turn off tv, computer or other devices and any loud music.
- Eliminate cell phone use – use a headset if you have to be on it but turn it off at least 2 hours before bed time
- Minimize liquid intake – to avoid having to make bathroom trips at night, stop drinking liquids two hour before bed time and empty bladder before turning in
- Avoid exercise within two hours of bedtime – it is too stimulation right before sleep and make sure you’re not sacrificing sleep time for exercise by getting up too early
- Take your medications – if pain or allergies keep you up, make sure you take any medications one hour before bedtime so they have time to begin working
Certainly it might seem overwhelming to make all these changes at once. Pick one or two and begin there. Maybe it’s just shutting down your phone earlier than usual or limiting caffeine before bedtime. Whatever you choose, just be consistent and begin moving in the right direction. Your NEW rested self will thank you!
For more information on how my Health Coaching services can help you with your health goals, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my Health Coaching site at www.onelifehealthcoaches.com