Sleep is one of the main pillars of health – right up there with good nutrition, exercise, and mental peace.
There’s no surprise then that long (or even that that long) periods of poor sleep is a seriously miserable ordeal.
Some of the effects of sleep deprivation on the body include irritability, poor concentration and memory, increased appetite, increased risk of diabetes, and weakened immunity.
And that’s just to name a few.
As you probably know, the hormone balance in our bodies is extremely fragile and immensely important for our wellbeing.
Trust me when I say that poor sleeping habits can wreak havoc on that precious hormone balance.
Lack of sleep and weight gain
When you get into a rhythm of constant sleep deprivation, the body reacts by changing the release of appetite- and hunger-regulating hormones: leptin (a hormone inhibiting hunger) goes down while ghrelin (the hormone triggering appetite) goes up.
Furthermore, studies have shown that when sleep-deprived we’re much more likely to have sugar cravings and make poor food choices like fatty/fried foods/junk food that we’d usually avoid.
Combine that with just being plainly exhausted and lacking energy, it’s obvious that working out or any other physical activity isn’t even on the table anymore.
And yes, even our sex drive goes way down (testosterone in both men and women is decreased) which, of course, leads to intimacy problems.
You can see how a lack of quality sleep is a recipe for a miserable and sneaky weight gain.
Sleep and beauty
I doubt there’s anyone who doesn’t want to look as young and as fresh as possible.
Well, your body has its own mechanism to ensure that but most of those rejuvenating processes happen not just during your sleep but, more precisely – during the deep sleep phases.
Lack of (deep) sleep seriously interferes with the body’s production of collagen (a protein that gives our skin its elasticity) and only after a few sleepless nights we can notice our skin looking dull and lifeless.
“Beauty sleep” is definitely a thing!
How to fall asleep easier
An anxious mind, filled with a constant stream of unsettling thoughts is the most certain way to keep yourself awake.
How can you calm a racing mind?
1. Give journaling a try
Our days are so overfilled with information, events, happenings. We’re constantly in a “Go, go, go!”-mode.
Never in history have people been so massively bombarded with information and thus – emotions.
Problem is – our brains are not made for this.
We need time to reflect, understand and think things through.
And since we don’t get the time for that during the day, there’s no surprise that our minds explode with thoughts at night when we’re supposed to relax and sleep.
Taking 30 minutes in the evening to write down all pressing emotions, ideas or thoughts provoked during the day is a great way to unload your mind and prepare it for bedtime.
Look at it as a peace-inducing, pre-bed ritual.
2. Cut out screen time in the evening
There are two reasons for reducing screen time in the evening.
First, the blue light from screens (phones, laptops, TVs, etc.) is inhibiting the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making it harder for the body to prepare for sleep.
Give your eyes a rest and your body the chance to naturally get ready for rest. Lay down the phone at least 3-4 hours before bed.
If you must use it though, check if your device has a blue light-filter and activate it.
The second good reason to abstain yourself from screen time in the evening is touching on the same point I made earlier – we don’t need to overload our minds with even more information.
Every social media post you read, every news update is an additional piece of information that you need to process, and that provokes certain emotions (whether you realize it or not).
Be careful with where you waste your energy and your emotions.
3. Reduce caffeine intake
Okay, you knew this was coming!
I’m really sorry but if you’re having sleep problems, afternoon coffee should go.
Personally, after much research, I’ve decided to cut out coffee as a whole and I’ve seen a lot of positive changes in my overall wellbeing and sleep quality.
The deciding factor was the effects of coffee on the adrenal glands. Caffeine acts as a trigger to your adrenals, which are responsible for producing the two stress-responding hormones – cortisol and epinephrine.
Basically, chronic caffeine intake can trick your body into thinking you’re permanently in a stressful situation. Add this to your actual daily stress and you can see why there’s such thing as adrenal fatigue – the glands get overworked.
You don’t need to take drastic measures like I did and cut out coffee completely.
Reducing your coffee intake might just do the trick. At best, limit it to one cup in the morning.
Meditation is a great tool for stress-management.
If you’ve never tried meditation, it might feel a bit awkward at first and you’ll probably have a hard time controlling your thoughts.
Just bear with it!
It takes some time and practice but you’ll slowly learn to take control of your mind and thoughts. Like I mentioned in this article about my overcoming of an autoimmune disease – learning to switch off your mind is truly a life-changing skill.
You might want to try some guided meditation apps at first like Headspace or Calm. They are great for a start!
Magnesium glycinate is one of the magnesium supplements with the highest absorption rates.
It also happens to be one that’s gentler on the stomach and less likely to upset it.
Along with many other benefits such as improved bone health and blood sugar control, magnesium glycinate is also shown to have a calming effect on the brain, relieve anxiety, and improve sleep quality.
There’s a lot in our daily life that can deplete magnesium:
- High alcohol consumption
- Processed foods
- Environmental toxins
- Chronic stress
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include PMS, migraines, irritability, anxiety, thyroid dysfunction, etc.
6. CBD oil
I’m a big fan of CBD oil and it helped me a lot when I was struggling with thyroid issues a few years ago.
Sleep wasn’t coming easy back then and CBD oil was one of the things that helped me get my quality sleep back.
I actually wrote a full article on my experience with CBD oil so if you’re interested to learn more about it, check it out.
7. Create a solid nighttime routine
Our brains love habits. And we should take advantage of that!
Create a nighttime routine that you do every night before sleep.
It could be journaling and a cup of mint tea, followed by your before-bed skincare routine.
It could be reading a book and writing down notes.
Anything that calms your mind, brings you joy, and can turn into a healthy habit.
Your brain will start to connect these activities with the following rest and sleep time.
To solidify this habit, aim to go to bed at relatively the same time each night.
How to create a sleep-inducing bedroom atmosphere
There are a few things that can make your bedroom an even better place for relaxation and sleep.
1. Declutter your bedroom
It’s mostly a mental thing but messy or cluttered rooms are hardly a nice place to relax or sleep in.
Keep your bedroom clean and airy – don’t fill it up with unnecessary furniture or accessories.
2. Keep it cool
We generally sleep better at cooler temperatures. Ideally, you want your bedroom temperature to be around 16-18°C (60-65°F).
Make sure to let enough fresh air in before bed.
3. Keep it dark
No surprise here. The darker the bedroom, the better you’ll sleep.
4. Take your comfort seriously
Invest in high-quality mattress, pillows and bedding.
It will not only help you sleep better but it will also keep your body free of any back or hips aches.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, you might want to try out weighted blankets. People using weighted blankets say they feel like being hugged and create a sense of security and calmness.
Sleep is crucial for our health. The quality of our sleep determines the quality of our lives.
Take any measures you can to guarantee yourself a better sleep.
All of the suggestions above can bring you closer to your goal of quality, deep sleep. Just be consistent, building habits takes time!