Get Your Best Night’s Sleep Starting Tonight

Our daily lifestyle activities can be boiled down to 3 simple things: eating/drinking, moving, and thinking.

Evolution has shaped our behaviors and genetic requirements in all three categories and if we fail to fulfill these requirements, over time we suffer consequences. Most notably are the ramped, preventable chronic diseases. All of which can be traced back to toxic or deficient eating, lack of exercise, poor posture, or lack of purpose, social connection, and overwhelming stress.

BUT WAIT…. there is one thing not mentioned that we all have in common. If we don’t get enough of it, it doubles our cancer risk, demolishes our immune system, cranks up our blood sugar, hardens our arteries, makes us prone to depression, anxiety, makes us fat, and reduces our lifespan.

Yes, if the title of this blog didn’t’ give away the answer already, it’s sleep.    

Did you know that up to 2/3 of adults do not obtain the required amount of nightly sleep?

That probably doesn’t surprise you, because so many people seem to struggle with this problem. Research shows that if you do not routinely get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted restful sleep it can lead to severe consequences. Consequences looking a lot like the ones from lack of healthy nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction.

So why isn’t there more emphasis on this problem?

The reason is that sleep is still largely misunderstood. We are the only species on the planet that deliberately deprives themselves of sleep.  We still often hear people say “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!”, which is ironic since lack of sleep has been shown to contribute to early death.

America is especially guilty of maximizing work hours from its 24/7 economy and celebrating entrepreneurs and CEOs who sacrifice sleep and recovery for unrelenting work. We are also participating in so many unnatural behaviors like staring at an illuminated screen, sitting in cubicles and cars all day, eating processed chemical-laden foods, drinking everything but water, and taking on crazy amounts of stress and responsibility.  All of this leads to feeling tired and wired and unable to pull the plug.

Sleep has become a very elusive state for many people and there is no one solution for everyone to get an awesome night sleep, but here are my top 10 that you can start with.

 My suggestion is to pick one at a time until you’re ready to move on to the next.

  1. Get to bed before 10 pm. I know, this isn’t realistic for some of you, but I didn’t invent biology. We are meant to get to sleep with darkness and awaken with the sun. Typically, this means if you are getting the recommended 8 hours you are sleeping 10 pm – 6 am.
  2. Make your bedroom PITCH BLACK. Your body is sensitive to light and if you have the glow of an alarm clock or a streetlamp shining in your bedroom, black out the shades and cover the alarm.
  3. Finish drinking water at least 2 hours before bed, and finish eating around the same time. Try to avoid high carbohydrate meals before bed as this will keep you up and restless.
  4. Avoid caffeine after 12 pm even if you don’t think it bothers you. Caffeine can still cause restless sleep whether you know it or not. If you feel like you can’t operate without your coffee in the morning, this might be your problem.
  5. Find the right pillow and mattress for your body type and sleeping position. If you have deep curves in your spine or you’re a side sleeper you will likely be better with a medium or soft mattress and pillow. If you have flatter curvatures in your spine or struggle with back pain you will likely do better with a medium to firm mattress. If you and your significant other are different, invest in a sleep number bed.
  6. Keep your room cool, ideally in the low 60s, this will promote better sleep.
  7. Avoid TV or computer screens at least 1 hour before bed. This will help keep your mind calm and not stimulated by light and electronics.
  8. Try 10 minutes of meditation or box breathing to calm your nerves before going to sleep.
  9. Read a book.
  10. Skip the nightcap. No, alcohol doesn’t promote better sleep.

Don’t miss Tuesday night October 24th Dr. Ryan will be doing a FREE 1-hour sleep workshop in room 221E at the Cummings Center in Beverly.  Sign up at the front desk today and bring a friend who is struggling with sleep!

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