Among the many duties we juggle daily, quality sleep often takes the back burner. This may not seem like that big of a deal in your 20’s or 30’s, but the repercussions eventually show up in our health and around our waistlines. Even if you’re younger and sleep deprivation hasn’t caught up yet, you’re still functioning at a much lower level than you could be on a daily basis. Sleep doesn’t just effect your next day’s priorities, it also has major consequences on your health and long term effects on your skin.
“I read recently that lack of sleep can lead to chronic illness and other serious health issues. I have kids, a job with crazy hours, and personal stress. I can’t seem to ever get a great night’s sleep, it’s always something!” Unfortunately, we hear this at the clinic more often than not from our patients. That’s why I decided to dedicate an entire blog to sleep and how you can reach your sleep goals!
Sleep is a foundation for an energetic, joyful, healthy life. Getting poor-quality sleep, or not enough sleep, adversely affects hormones that can make you tired, fat, and moody. Contrary to popular belief, your body doesn’t just turn off when you lay down to go to sleep. In fact, many body operations turn on when you sleep, such as your body’s ability to make important hormones that keep you balanced. In fact, a recent study found that just one partial night’s sleep could create insulin resistance, creating a path for diabetes and many other problems.
As a nurse, I understand how stress can become a big issue. I feel grateful that I have knowledge about the direct correlation between sleep and health, and with that knowledge has come great power to change my personal life through my sleep regimen.
I used to think that 4-5 hours per night was sufficient, I would ask my friends how many hours they were getting, their number was just as low as mine and they were functioning, it can’t be that bad! I even used to Google if “five hours was sufficient to function” whenever I got a bad night’s sleep, any article that told me it was enough made me feel better.
Something that took me a while to learn is that five hours may feel good to some people (or they might be feeling good when they talk to you in the morning and are crashing by 4 pm), but it’s all about knowing yourself, and getting in tune with YOUR body.
Experiment, and find a number that feels good to you and make that your priority. Don’t worry if it’s higher than someone else’s number, this doesn’t make you a lazy person. This makes you a smart person because you know yourself. Some of the most successful people in the world could be achieving more in the “health and wellness” area of life, if they learned to listen to their bodies a little more. In the end, if you feel good, you will be better at giving your full energy and attention to the people you love.
Trial and error is a great way to figure out what works for you. Many people feel much more alert and focused with seven to eight hours of good sleep (yes, even extremely busy people who are important like you), but I realize it can be a real challenge. Here are five ways to accomplish a better night’s sleep:
- Clear the mind. When you’re finally quiet with your thoughts, something small at night can quickly become something big – hindering your sleep greatly. One way to calm the mind is to keep a journal or notebook by your bed and write down your to-do list or ruminations before you go to sleep so you can make it less likely for your mind to spin. For those out there who love to write and are highly creative, give yourself a set amount of time to journal and then continue with your sleep regimen so you don’t get caught up in a creative spiral. Use it solely as a tool to decompress – not to create an entire business plan or write your next book!
- Guided Meditation. I have used this for the last three years and my sleep has improved tremendously. Friends staying in hotels with me while traveling were definitely skeptical, maybe even creeped out, when they heard a stranger’s soothing voice coming from a darkened room. The funny thing is, most of my friends now do some sort of meditation before bed, and they are totally addicted to it. I enjoy the apps Calm, Headspace, and Guided Mind, and Kerie Logan’s guided imagery on a “Good Night’s Sleep” is also wonderful.
- Essential oils are your best friend. Oils are a great natural option to achieve a relaxed state of mind, and increase the overall health of your endocrine system. I recommend Peak Medical Clinic’s all-natural, paraben-free, vegan, organic GO TO SLEEP body cream. It contains organic essential oils such as lavender, Roman chamomile and ylang ylang, and it works like a charm! You can purchase it in our clinics or at BalanceDocs.
- Use natural herbal therapies. Before I knew the power of natural therapies I was guilty of taking an Advil PM, Benadryl, even a NyQuil (when I wasn’t sick) on nights where I felt desperate to fall asleep. These often act as quick gratification to put us into a deep sleep but can have negative long-term consequences on the liver, kidneys, and gut health – PLUS they make you feel groggy the entire next day! You’re probably better with the less sleep option than the “sleep hangover” feeling. Many of our patients at Peak Medical Clinic (including myself) have cracked their sleep code with our supplements.
Here are our top four sellers:
- BalanceDocs SLEEP supplement – made by our company BalanceDocs. Helps promote a blissful natural sleep to replenish your body and mind.
- Key ingredients: 5HTP (boosts healthy sleep rhythm and mood, reduced cravings and anxiety, enhances serotonin, and melatonin. B vitamins (aids mental performance, balances mood chemicals, and provides a sense of well-being). Passion flower (reduces the amount of time falling asleep and minimizes interruptions during sleep). Skullcap herb (reduces anxiety, restlessness, muscle spasms, and nervousness). Valerian root (improves sleep quality without the “groggy” effect). Melatonin (powerful natural antioxidant and sleep hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycle).
- BalanceDocs MOOD supplement – supports mood chemicals for optimal balance! Fights low moods, anxious feelings, reduces irritability, and encourages deep restorative sleep.
- BalanceDocs STRESS PM supplement – turns off the brain at bedtime for busy brain people that are wired but tired and can’t sleep. It also conserves cortisol at night so you can make more energy pumping cortisol during the day.
- Tri-Mag Tablets – this unique, highly-absorbable magnesium blend supports cellular metabolism. Excellent for sleep, constipation, mood, and reduction in cravings. Magnesium is a component of over 300 enzymatic processes in the body! It also provides nutritional support for muscles and bones in the body, while aiding in cardiac health.
- Environment is key. Only use your bed for sleep. Don’t keep a television in your bedroom. Keep your room cool and un-cluttered. Make your bed your sleep retreat: keep it clean, organized, and made daily (looking inviting). Eliminate things in your room that keep you awake such as, animals, TV, or a snoring person (get them help). Many people find purchasing a white noise sleep machine helps reduce your attention to the environment and distractions from unavoidable noises. I personally use one and love it. Never underestimate what your environment can do for your health!
There you have it, 5 ways to get a better night’s sleep. Don’t forget to listen to your body and find what works best for you, your future self won’t regret it!
Wishing you health, happiness, and sweet dreams,
Kenzie Jackson RN, BSN