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As we continue our series on small microhabits of health, remember there are six key components to optimal well-being: nutrition, movement, sleep, water, mindfulness and stress management.
Two weeks ago we discussed the difference between a diet mindset and healthy living mindset and how to live a lifestyle of balanced nutrition is the best way to ensure long-term success with your health goals. This week we are going to talk about sleep.
I love sleep. I used to have the hardest time falling asleep, but now, I drift right off and get the most restful sleep ever in my life.
Sleeplessness is hard on anyone, especially women. As a matter of fact, women who only sleep five hours or less a night are at a higher risk of heart problems — 45 percent more likely! Women who sleep about six hours a night have a 20 percent higher risk. Sleep is serious business. Individuals that get less than seven hours a night may experience anxiety, moodiness, depression and overuse alcohol and stimulants. Between 50-70 million people in the U.S. alone may be affected by this.
Sleep is one of those habits of health, that if neglected for too long, you will not be able to sustain optimal well-being. Why? When you sleep, that is the only time your body can heal and repair itself. Sleep truly is nature’s nurse. Restorative sleep can help prevent weight gain, reduce inflammation, reduce blood pressure and improve your immune system. When my clients are sick, I tell them to drink water with electrolytes and sleep. Your body needs to heal and restore.
We were created to experience restorative sleep. It is in our biological clock. Have you ever heard of the phrase, “the third eye?” This term is referring to the pineal gland, a pea-sized organ located in the center of the brain just behind the eyes. What does this gland do? It releases melatonin, cools your body temperature and lowers your metabolic rate. All of this is in preparation of going to sleep and experiencing sleep cycles.
There are five stages of a sleep cycle and each cycle can last around 90 minutes. The preparation for a cycle is when your close your eyes and start to drift off to sleep. The first stage is light sleep and your heart rate lowers. The second stage is when your brain waves slow down resting the parts of your brain you use when you are awake. The third stage is when you hit a deeper level of sleep and your body makes repairs, restores and recharges the body. The fourth stage is the rapid eye movement stage, or REM. REM is the deepest sleep you can get. Your body is pretty much motionless and your brainwaves are active causing dreams. The last stage is when your heart rate begins to rise, blood pressure increases, your temperature rises and you make wake up and roll over. Then the cycle starts all over again. It is great to have five or so sleep cycles a night.
Can you begin to see the importance of sleep as an instrumental habit of health? With the age of electronics and stimulation at every turn, allowing ourselves the opportunity to create a healthy environment for healthy sleep is difficult for many. Here are some suggestions for helping you create a sleep sanctuary and tips for healthy sleep.
• Don’t go to bed angry — resolve issues
• Limit caffeine after 3 p.m. (it can stay in your system for up to six hours)
• Avoid exercise within two hours of bedtime
• Say no to naps — recipe for insomnia
• Limit water intake two hours before bed
• Low glycemic eating — no sugar
• Avoid alcohol two hours before bedtime
• Decrease stimulation –— low lights, no computer or cell phone in the bedroom — this affects the pineal gland and melatonin
• Set a specific bedtime
• Take a hot shower or bath
• Aromatherapy: chamomile, jasmine, lavender, rose, sweet marjoram, sandalwood
Implement a few of these tips and over time you will see a huge difference in the quality of your sleep and therefore a difference in your quality of overall health. As always, if you would like to schedule a time to do a free health assessment with me, reach out. I am here to help. Next we will look into the benefits of water and why it is so important.
Honey Wiggs is a speaker, author and a certified health coach. Even though she lives in North Carolina, she has helped over 7,000 people across the country transform their lives one healthy habit at a time. Honey can be reached at info@legacyOfJoyInc.com or visit her website at www.LegacyOfJoyInc.com.