Recently I’ve been working really late and starting really early as there’s just so much I want to cram into my day!
A few years ago I wouldn’t have noticed the effects beyond feeling tired but since getting in tune with my own body I’m now aware of when my body is really telling me to get some rest. I’m not saying it’s always easy to do, but I do know I have to make a conscious effort from time to time to avoid making myself ill or gaining weight!
For me, the biggest sign that I’m exhausted and sleep deprived is craving chocolate… all the time! I love chocolate and I do indulge every day in a couple of chunks of high percentage dark chocolate. But this craving goes beyond that… I seriously want chocolate loads, even when I’m not hungry, what’s that all about?
The quick answer is that our body needs energy to function so when we are lacking sleep but still need to be alert… to work, to drive, to play with children, whatever it may be, our body is screaming at us to fuel it in the quickest form possible – sugar. This is what has us reaching for the chocolate, cakes and biscuits. Luckily I’m aware so I have to be organised to make sure I have some healthy sweet snacks to hand to see me through.
A lack of sleep and relaxation can seriously mess up your metabolism over time so if you find you’re battling with your weight you may need to consider whether lack of sleep is playing a part…
Here are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep:
Have a regular sleep schedule
My son introduced me to the practice of working with sleep cycles. He researched it last year when he was 15 as he often had trouble getting to sleep and was tired when he woke up. Now he generally plans his sleep according to this practice and it works really well for him. As I’m sure you know, we go into different levels of sleep and the idea is that if you go to sleep at certain times according to when you need to wake (or plan to wake at a time in accordance with when you go to sleep) you are much more likely to wake up feeling refreshed and alert instead of tired and groggy.
He uses this simple Sleepy Time calculator to plan his optimum time for going to bed.
Use your bed for sleeping and… ahem, romantic activities only
It creates an association with relaxation and rest, so don’t use your bed to sit and do your sewing on.
Make your bedroom a place of peace
Don’t use your bedroom as a dumping ground. Keep it organised and tidy. You might want to explore the feng shui principles. Check out Bedroom Feng Shui Basics
Switch off phones, tv’s, tablets etc for at least an hour before bed.
Clear your mind
It’s hard to shut down when your mind is full of worries or thoughts about what you need to do the next day. Keep a notepad by your bed and write down anything on your mind. This frees you up from the pressure of ‘remembering’. The next morning you can take a look at your notes.
Dim those lights
Reduce lighting or use blue lighting when getting ready for bed. Blue lights help the brain reset for sleep and increases melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate your sleep and wake cycles.
A couple of minutes of stretching will help relax your physical body.
Some people find they sleep better with a hot water bottle warming their core.
Read a book
Reading tends to make the eyes heavy and sleepy but pick something that isn’t going to keep you hooked and in suspense!
These can include guided imagery, deep breathing, meditation, yoga, a bath… anything that is calm, quiet and gentle that works for you.
I tend to use something I learnt at yoga, it’s a meditation practice where in your mind you pass your body through a ‘scanner’. So in your sleep position, eyes closed, focus momentarily on each part… toes, feet, lower leg, knees… work up one side of the body and down the other. I can guarantee I’m asleep before I’ve reached the first arm!! It literally takes me less than a minute to fall asleep! In fact, I find this so relaxing I actually do fall asleep in my yoga class quite regularly when we do this which can be embarrassing!! I will add though, I have always found it easy to fall asleep, but this certainly speeds up the process!
Cut the Caffeine
Lots of people, my husband included simply cannot sleep after even a single cup of coffee too close to bedtime, so switch to decaffeinated coffee or tea or even better, try a herbal tea like camomile. If you waking during the night for the toilet perhaps you need to avoid that last bedtime drink altogether.
There are a variety of herbal and other supplements such as passionflower, valerian root extract, melatonin and magnesium.
Some people find these mats a life-saver, check them out on Amazon… they’re not expensive. Not only do they help with sleep, but during the day they can be used to relieve tension, tiredness and aches.
Earthing or Grounding mat
Again, Google them. They are designed to protect you from electromagnetic frequencies (EMF’s) such as radios and mobile phones that can impair sleep.
Some people do find that once their sleep is under control and their body is no longer in a state of exhaustion and stress, their weight naturally drops, so test it for yourself and keep a note of how different you feel on days when you’re feeling alert and refreshed.
Let me know in the comments if you use any of these or other tips or if you’ve noticed a change in your weight once you started sleeping well.