Are you sleeping through the night?

Have you said “bye-bye” to sleeping through the night? Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day? Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing. Sleep is this nightly thing that we all do and yet we're just beginning to understand all the ways it is helpful to us and all of the areas of our lives it affects. Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.  People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation.  And don't forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills. 

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!) What aspect of health does sleep not affect??? Let me tell you about the three main purposes of sleep:

●      To restore our body and mind.  Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep. Imagine our brains doing a total dump of all the stuff we went through all day and clearing the slate for the new day. 

●      To improve our brain's ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.

●      To conserve some energy so we're not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day. Those little powerhouse descendants of ancient bacteria known as our mitochondria, they require tons and tons of energy to make us move, think, when you feel like you're in a fog, think of them, they're tired.

Do you know how much sleep adults need?  It's less than growing kids need but you may be surprised that it's recommended that all adults get 7 - 9 hours a night, yes, really. And of course, you might be part of the very small percentage of people who can get by on 4-6 hours, lucky you! But for the most part, we need long hours of zzz's, try not to skimp! (Don't worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)

Tips for better sleep

●      The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule.  Make it a priority and you're more likely to achieve it.  This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off.  Seven. Days. A. Week.  I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.

●      Balance your blood sugar throughout the day.  You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber).  For example, choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavored snack).  Make sure you're getting some protein every time you eat. And if you need more tips on that, make sure to check out my FREE 5-Day Kick Sugar for Good Challenge!  

●      During the day get some sunshine (vitamin D) and exercise.  These things tell your body it's daytime; time for being productive, active and alert.  By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.

●      Cut off your caffeine and processed sugar intake after 12pm.  Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte!  Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).

●      Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 - 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off).  This would include dimming your artificial lights, wearing blue blocking light glasses, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath.

How does this all tie in to cravings and mental fog during the day? Well, if you don't get enough sleep, you throw your hormones into a spiral, which send out signals to your brain that you need a quick fix for energy (remember those mitochondria we talked about? This is they, screaming for sugar!) which translates into making bad food choices, like a not so good carb-loaded lunch instead of a big salad with lots of good fats, then crashing at 3pm and starting the cycle all over again. Therefore, try your very best to get in those much needed hours of sleep, it affects every aspect of your day! 

How many of these tips can you start implementing today?

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Chai Latte, caffeine free

1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)

2 cups of boiling water

1 tablespoon tahini

1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)

2 dates (optional)

Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.

Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.

Blend until creamy.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip:  You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavor combination you like the best.  Cashew butter anyone?

til next time,