For many years, I had health issues I couldn't seem to shake. I was eating well, working out consistently, and yet I felt absolutely terrible. I wasn't getting great sleep, but what mom does, I asked myself. The truth is, I wasn't dialing in my sleep because I hadn't learned this valuable lesson:
You can’t out exercise, out supplement, or out eat a sleep deficit.
No amount of supplements, yoga, plant-based foods, or naps will make up for an uninterrupted night of sleep.
Here are some fundamental steps to building a better sleep routine:
Start with sunlight.
Getting outside first thing in the morning can do wonders for our circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are related to mood and mental health. Excess or early/late artificial light exposure can cause a person’s circadian rhythm to be misaligned with the day-night schedule, which throws sleep off and can mess up metabolism, cause weight gain, cardiovascular problems, and more.
Sleep efficiency—how much time you spend actually sleeping—and sleep latency—how quickly you fall asleep—improve significantly with the introduction of exercise during the day. Fitness-based yoga, strength training, pilates, and walking or running are all great forms of exercise.
Avoid screens at least an hour before bed.
Screens also mess with out circadian rhythms by emitting blue light, which signals the brain to wake up and move. Exposure to light reduces the release of melatonin, a hormone connected to our circadian rhythms. Even low light can interfere with your circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. Some studies suggest even show a link between exposure to light at night, to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Choose your foods (and drink) wisely.
Alcohol, caffeine, high-carb, high-glycemic foods can reek havoc on sleep. These foods can cause surges (and crashes) in blood sugar and interfere with your REM sleep.
Create a night routine.
Finding a routine that helps to calm you down and helps you relax is so important. Breathwork or gentle yoga can be a great way to begin. Essential oils, soft music, and a book (no thrillers!) can help you get in the mood for sleep. There are so many ways to help improve sleep, but for me the first step was choosing to focus on improving it. I found that while I was happy taking another supplement, working out even more, or eating even more kale, it was harder for me to implement a healthy night routine. So I started with one small change—no caffeine after 3:00pm. And I did that until I was comfortable. Then, I added another change. And did that until I was comfortable. I worked on this for a very long time, but can now finally say that I get great sleep. And I feel amazing! What have you tried to improve your sleep? What do you struggle with?
Have a beautiful week!
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