5 Healthy Habits for Optimal Sleep

Baby AsleepMy clients are sometimes surprised to hear that I place so much emphasis on a good night’s sleep.

They wonder what sleep has to do with their food sensitivities and digestive health.

And that’s a great question!

When you think about the purpose of sleep, the primary role is to rest and repair – so that your body can function optimally come morning.

If you consistently go to bed too late, or wake up early, or your sleep is interrupted – your body can’t fully restore itself.

So you end up feeling sluggish and hungrier than usual, and start making poor food choices because your blood sugar is out of whack, and it’s all because you didn’t get enough sleep.

And yes – you might also gain weight!

(With a tendency to hang on to those extra pounds, no matter how hard you try to lose them).

Of course, nothing exists in a vacuum, and developing healthy sleep habits is just one part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

So pick one habit from the list below, and let’s get started!

And remember – for each of these new habits, consistency is important, more so than trying to do everything at once.

Stick to a Regular Schedule

The key, here, is going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.

This might seem like an easy habit to implement, but the reality is that many of us have different sleep habits over the weekend, than during the work week.

You might stay up late to attend a party, the ballet, or just to watch a favorite show on TV.

Because heck – it’s the weekend!

Time to let your hair down, relax and have some fun, right?

Well, the truth is that you’re better off ‘relaxing’ in the comfort of your bed and getting a good night’s sleep.

So, choose a time that works for you, and stick with it.


Implement a Bedtime Routine

Bedtime routines are good, especially if you have a favorite way to relax and wind down before hitting the sheets.

I like to read for 30 minutes or so before bed, or write in my journal – especially when the house is quiet.

Journaling is an excellent way to get the jumble of thoughts out of your head and onto paper, so you can sleep.

(Instead of lying awake every night playing back the day’s events in your head. Trust me – paper is better).

For some people, a warming drink – like chamomile tea – hits the spot just before bed.

You can customize your bedtime routine any way you want.


Pay Attention to Your Environment

Learning to relax before bed does NOT mean watching television.

Sure, TV can allow you to complete zone out especially if you’re watching something mindless, or the umpteenth rerun of a favorite show.

The thing is, watching television late into the night can actually keep you awake – and there are very real, scientific reasons why this is so. (Very briefly, it has to do with the blue light that emanates from the television set).

That’s why it’s important to turn off your TV and all electronics at least 1 hour before bed.

You will sleep better for it.

I cover this in even greater detail in my Healthy Life Toolkit. Be sure to download your Free copy today, if you haven’t already done so.


Understand Your Circadian Rhythms

You’ve likely heard of your circadian rhythms – but what are they, exactly?

Turns out, there are specific times of the day when your various hormones kick in, and do their job.

For example, you need melatonin for sleep.

Melatonin becomes activated late in the day, and it’s the reason why you start to feel sleepy come evening.

Your body produces melatonin automatically. It’s part of your circadian rhythm.

Watching television, or catching up on Facebook before bed tricks your melatonin into thinking it’s earlier in the day than it actually is.

Which is why it will be harder for you to fall asleep when your head hits the pillow.

Ideally, you want to follow the natural cycle of your hormones throughout the day.


Fine-Tune Mealtimes

Try to make a point of eating dinner at least 3 hours before bed.

You’ll want to do this on a regular basis.

(Your body needs time to digest that last meal of the day).

Otherwise, come morning, your dinner will still be sitting in your stomach, and you won’t feel the least bit hungry.

Not to mention, that your body has to work that much harder to digest your food, once you’re lying down.

And that detracts from the hard work it’s suppose to be doing.  (You know – rest and repair).

Sure, there will be exceptions!

A later than usual dinner with friends, or celebrating a holiday – or perhaps you’re ravenous at 9:30, and know you won’t sleep unless you have a quick bite of something.

And that’s perfectly OK, as long as it doesn’t become a daily habit.

Learn to plan ahead!

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