As most of us know sleep is an incredibly powerful and essential function of life. We spend approximately a third of our lives sleeping. Why is that? Because our bodies need sleep to function during waking hours. Although sleep is one of our basic daily needs, more than 60 percent of adults say their sleep needs are not being fully met during the week.
What are the main benefits of sleep?
• Maintaining the immune system
• Regulating metabolism
• Regulation cognitive function
• Muscle repair and growth
Reasons for poor sleep quality
With the current shifts in our daily lifestyle, it’s easy for sleep patterns to be disrupted.
• Staying up late
• Watching TV
• Using digital devices
• Overall Stress
What’s the negative impact on poor sleep?
Less sleep can result in lower energy and poor performance throughout the workday, it can lead to less motivation to exercise and the ability to perform at a high level, it can adjust our metabolism and reduce our willpower to make nutritious food choices and impact our ability to manage stress. Working on our sleep and putting some healthy habits into place is important for us to focus on during a time when many of our normal healthy routines have been compromised.
3 of the main sleep challenges
Alterations in our sleep/wake routines are all changes that can impact our ability to rest and recover.
• Increased stress levels
• More exposure to artificial light,
• Shifts in our eating and drinking patterns
How to overcome these obstacles?
In the current age of technology and electricity, our exposure to light is now not only limited to daytime. We can be exposed to light, natural and artificial, 24/7. Natural light is an important part of our health and circadian rhythm, however, artificial light, specifically at night, has a negative impact on our sleep and can suppress melatonin production.
• Use “night shift” for your electronic devices
• Wear blue light blocking glasses
• Stop using electronics or watching TV 2-3 hours prior to bedtime
Chronic stress has been linked to a disruption in the circadian sleep-wake cycle and an overall decrease in the quality of sleep. Finding a positive way to cope with stress will not only be helpful to your mental health but will likely result in better recovery as well. Try to go for a walk, meditate, have sex, or read a book prior to sleeping.
In some cases, alcohol can help us fall asleep quicker, but studies have shown that the consumption of alcohol has a negative impact on the quality of sleep, specifically the total amount of REM sleep we get. After a drink or a few, it is likely easier to fall asleep, but the quality of sleep is probably worse.
One study showed that increased sleep irregularity was associated with increased daytime sleepiness, increased markers of cardiovascular disease, less physical activity, and higher perceived stress and depression.
- Set a bedtime and wake-up time that you can follow throughout the week—weekends included.
- Try to make sure you allow for a minimum of 7 hours of rest with ~ 8 hours being the goal.
- Some studies have shown that in healthy people, higher calorie consumption and increased fat intake within 60 minutes before bed was associated with difficulty falling asleep and decreased REM sleep.
- Consider setting a cutoff time for meals and snacks in relation to your bedtime.
- 2 to 3 hours before bed will likely provide your body with enough time to rest and digest and get your body ready for sleep.
Fasting and Sleep
The impact that fasting has on sleep is likely dependent on the type and duration of the fast. There is a potential risk to have difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep while on a prolonged fast. Aside from hunger pangs, this can potentially be explained by the increase in cortisol and epinephrine while fasting, two hormones which are normally decreased during sleep. The increased stress and “fight or flight” response can have an impact on wakefulness and quality of sleep. The good news is, once a prolonged fast is broken, sleep will generally return back to how it was prior to the fast, if not better.
Therefore you might better not conduct prolonged fasts during stressful times. Instead, focus on short fasts and time-restricted feeding—which helps reduce mindless snacking and improve sleep.
Sleep is yet another component of our life that has been impacted by the global issues we’re facing. Increased stress, more exposure to artificial light, inconsistencies with our schedules, and more alcohol consumption all contribute to sleep struggles. However, there are some simple strategies we can start putting in place to improve our rest and recovery. Here’s what we suggest:
• Put away any electronic device 2-3 hours prior bedtime
• Reduce alcohol consumption
• Have a consistent sleep schedule
• Stop eating 2-3 hours before bedtime
• Keep your room dark and at about 18 degrees
Keep it up!
Your Youdowell Team
Sleep Deprivation as a Neurobiologic and Physiologic Stressor: Allostasis and Allostatic Load
Effects of Experimental Sleep Restriction on Weight Gain, Caloric Intake, and Meal Timing in Healthy Adults
Tissue Regeneration: Impact of Sleep on Stem Cell Regenerative Capacity
Light exposure in the natural environment: Relevance to mood and sleep disorders
Validation of the Sleep Regularity Index in Older Adults and Associations with Cardiometabolic Risk
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