Happy, Healthy Deep Sleeping! This week is all about those nighttime Zzzzs. When it comes to body weight, it may be that if you snooze, you lose. Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite. Shortened sleep time is associated with decreases in the peptide, leptin (signals satiety to the brain) and elevations in the peptide, ghrelin (stimulates hunger). When you don’t get enough sleep, your body also releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. It also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. Ongoing studies are considering whether adequate sleep should be a standard part of weight loss programs. In fact it would be nearly impossible to be truly fit without sleep. It is crucial to our overall health and yet is often put last on our list of health priorities. In the “Whitehall II Study,” British researchers looked at how sleep patterns affected the mortality of more than 10,000 British civil servants over two decades. The results, published in 2007, showed that those who had cut their sleep from 7 to 5 hours or fewer a night nearly doubled their risk of death from all causes. In particular, lack of sleep doubled the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, heart disease, heart failure, strokes, diabetes, and so much more. It causes daytime drowsiness which leads to accidents, impairs cognitive processes, makes you forgetful, lowers the libido, contributes to symptoms of depression, breaks down collagen in the skin causing premature aging, and makes us prone to poor judgment. Time to put getting a good night’s rest of at least 7-9 hours at the top of your to do list! Here are our top 10 important tips for improving your Sleep: 1. Whatever time you plan on going to sleep each night, make yourself go to bed 1 hour earlier. 2. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, heavy or spicy foods, and vigorous exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime. (However, a light snack might help. Nuts, seeds, and bananas contain tryptophan, which is a sleep-promoting substance. In general, carbs are good for sleep, proteins and fats are not. A little bit of water is good to flush out the digestive system which will slow down during sleep, but not too much or there could be bathroom break interruptions. Non-caffeinated chamomile tea is a good, calming choice before bed. Or a quality herbal supplement like Shaklee’s Gentle Sleep Complex, which has a combination of passion flower, German chamomile, and valerian root.) 3. A quiet, dark, and cool environment are the 3 triggers for sound slumber. Lower the volume of outside noise with earplugs or a “white noise” appliance. Use heavy curtains, blackout shades, or an eye mask to block light. Keep the temperature comfortably cool—between 60 and 75°F—and the room well ventilated. 4. If you tend to take your problems to bed, try writing them down and then putting them aside. Journaling helps release unresolved and lingering emotions and thoughts from the day. Visualization of a “happy place” also helps lull you into dreamland. 5. Ease the transition from wake time to sleep time with a period of relaxing activities like light reading (or even a warm bath beforehand). Leave yourself 1 hour from when you get into bed to when you may be “ready” to fall asleep. 6. Do not bring electronics into bed with you. Artificial blue light impacts the way your body produces melatonin, the chemical in your body that makes you feel sleepy. And optometrists are said to be seeing higher levels of retinal stress in young people that could lead to disorders such as macular degeneration. In extreme cases, this can cause near blindness. This exposure can also cause retinal toxicity. Just leave the smartphone charging overnight in another room. Or at least on the other side of the room. Bonus: if you use it as your alarm clock, you’ll be forced to actually get up in the morning to turn it off instead of “hitting snooze”. 7. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body’s “internal clock” to expect sleep at a certain time night after night. Try to stick as closely as possible to your routine on weekends to avoid a Monday morning sleep hangover. 8. Let in the light first thing in the morning and use natural light to your advantage when it comes to regulating our circadian rhythms. 9. NAP. Napping is recently getting more attention for it’s health benefits. There is a thing such as too little or too much napping though. Experts recommend between 10-30 minutes for a powerful creativity and performance booster, any longer and you could be very groggy instead. 10. If you’re frustrated and can’t fall asleep, don’t just lie there obsessing over it, staring at the clock, and getting worked up which just makes it worse. Leave the room and do something relaxing in dim light, like listening to music, deep breathing, or meditating until you feel tired again. In general, make your bedroom your getaway for sleeping. Don’t bring work to bed. Don’t associate it with other activities if possible, except for the obvious between the sheets. Make your bed in the morning so that when you go to bed at night, it looks more appealing. And if you find that you are having consistent, troubling issues sleeping, don’t wait too long to discuss the possibility (and solutions) to more serious problems like insomnia, apnea, narcolepsy, or another clinical sleep disorder with a professional. For mild restless legs syndrome, you can try adding a calcium/magnesium supplement before bedtime to calm the nerves and relax muscles. A severe case could have other underlying medical conditions to discuss with a doctor. Next week will be Week 5 of our new Team RLEI Reset Program to Live Amazing. Let’s all go into it having slept more soundly, deeply, and peacefully!