We all are guilty of it. Don’t be shy, admit it! I will be the first to raise my hand- I am not getting enough of it…We are all not getting enough… Sleep. I know where you thought I was going with that… Get your mind out of the gutter people!
In our day and age, we are always on the go. People want to interact socially with one another in a public environment, even into the wee hours of the morning. When we are not interacting with people in person, we sit on our smart phones and laptops when we should be sleeping. Once you get me on Youtube, #gameover.
Everything in our lives is in constant motion. Living life, commuting, working a job, spending time with family, checking emails, and checking status updates puts us all instantly within reach, and it has now put sleep as a low priority on the totem pole. Sleep is vital for us to survive but research is now showing that our lack of sleep is worse than malnutrition and dehydration (which people are hospitalized for daily).
Most people think, “If I catch up on sleep over the weekend, I can make up for lost hours during my workweek.” But this is not the case. Our bodies work on a circadian rhythm (your internal body clock), and when we do this “catch-up” everything gets thrown off.
Signs you are not getting enough sleep include:
-Not as alert
-Sleepy during the day
-Blood pressure rising
-Depression or anxiety begins to show or is amplified
Of course this always comes back to diet and overall health. Obesity could be one of the reasons for many sleep issues according to the National Sleep Foundation. Over 65% of Americans are overweight or obese. This is not only an issue for adults but also a growing issue for children. There was a 20-year study on obesity and associated diseases amongst children conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This study reviewed the number of hospital discharges in obese children from the ages of 6-17. Discharges for sleep apnea increased over 430% during this time. Why is this a growing epidemic?
Overweight and obese children and adults tend to suffer from sleep apnea because of weight gain in certain parts of the body such as the neck. This can compromise respiratory function. Most people who suffer from sleep-disordered breathing are too fatigued and not as motivated to exercise or diet because of daytime sleepiness. But not only does sleep apnea occur in obese people, the reverse can happen where sleep problems can also contribute to obesity and weight gain issues. This vicious cycles happens because fatigue is often confused as a sign of hunger to the brain.
Are you feeling tired during the day, even after you feel you are getting a good amount of sleep? You probably are not getting enough sleep and on the verge of suffering from exhaustion.
Here are some things you should try to help fight sleep disorders:
1.) Seek medical treatment. Make an appointment with your primary care physician and discuss the sleep issues you have had. Be open and honest. Your doctor may order a sleep study at a local sleep center so that your issues can be properly addressed and treatment can be provided. (This is a good thing.)
2.) Make healthy choices. Avoid fast food and increase the amounts of whole foods you are getting throughout your day. Increase foods with natural energy derivatives like fruit, fish and vegetables. Avoid processed foods that have hidden sugars like manufactured (not fresh) breads, meal replacement bars and frozen entrees.
3.) Make exercise a priority. Just like sleep is important, so is ANY kind of activity you can get. Whether it is walking your dog, chasing your kids around the house, or even doing jumping jacks in the AM, any little bit of exercise helps! The best way to make it stick is make it part of the routine in your daily life. Set a reminder on your phone or a sticky note on your mirror reminding you that exercise is important for your health and sleep. Remember, overweight people are the ones most at risk for sleep disorders, and studies show that those who exercise do get a better night’s sleep.
4.) Talk and visualize. Quiet your talking mind by talking to someone before bed. Just letting it all out will ease any anxiety and tension you have and make you feel secure enough to sleep. Often times we do not get a great night’s sleep because of our mind racing about things that need to be done; but saying them out loud, gives our mind closure to shut down for the evening. No one to talk to? Visualize. Visualizing your favorite color, favorite vacation spot and things moving slowly helps people to rest better through the night.
5.) Oil up. To get a deeper and more restorative sleep, invest in some all natural lavender oil. Studies have shown that those who sniff lavender before bed experience a deeper and more restful sleep than those who did not.
6.) Sleep to the beat. Do you suffer from bad dreams or does your child have a hard time going back to sleep after a nightmare? Download a delta wave sound app from the iTunes or Google Play Store. There is a stage in the sleep cycle called the Delta phase and this phase of sleep is dominated by slow brain waves called “delta waves.” The idea behind these apps is that your brain will sync up with the waves of the music in the app and help you to calm restlessness with restfulness.
7.) Get Smart. With technology working against us for sleep, most of the time there are some great products that can actually show your sleep patterns. Fit Bit, which also syncs with Vitabot to track your vitamin, nutrition intake and exercise, can also track your sleep cycles. This is great for you to see how much sleep you are getting during the night and keep you on-track for visually seeing your weight loss results, which as we now all know helps with sleep.