Sleep, the place we dream. Something we do every night. Indeed, it is a process we take for granted, or something we often give up in an effort to work and do more.
Sleep, as it turns out, is more important than we thought. Sleep science continues to find out more about its relationship to health, and even sleep experts now help people get better sleep.
Menopause can be a factor in sleep issues. As women age our ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone. The change in these hormone levels can lead to sleep problems and other symptoms including hot flashes or excessive sweating. These symptoms can make it difficult to sleep which can lead to other problems.
When we lose sleep, especially the “good kind,” our bodies are more prone to having a range of issues, such as the ones listed here.
Increased amounts of cortisol – the stress hormone.
Reduced leptin. This mimics starvation and hunger, creating cues that urge us to eat.
Increased ghrelin – the hunger hormone.
Activated rewards systems that boost cravings and addiction behavior.
All of these increase the chances of gaining weight and becoming a diabetic, not to mention lost sleep affects your mood.
Studies have shown that fewer than 7 hours of sleep significantly increased the risk of obesity. One terrifying statistic is that 5 hours of sleep correlates to a 73% increase in weight gain.
There are several steps you can take to help improve your sleep. Ensuring that your vitamin D levels are adequate is important, lack of this vitamin has been shown to cause symptoms such as night sweats and hot flashes that will affect sleep. Also, be sure you are not consuming caffeine, especially in the afternoon.
You can consider taking supplements that support sleep. A few suggestions are magnesium which helps regulate the body’s stress response system. 5-HTP (L-5-hydroxytryptophan) is a precursor of serotonin, consider speaking with your doctor as this one may cause side effects. Magnolia bark contains polyphenols that have been found to help induce or improve sleep.
Creating a positive sleep space can also improve your sleep quality. Consider implementing these different strategies:
Keep your bedroom well-ventilated and between 60-70° F.
Decrease outside noise. Experiment with ear plugs, sleep music, or yoga nidra meditations.
Decrease the use of electronics, especially in the evening. Blue light affects melatonin release.
Use blackout curtains or an eye mask, full darkness triggers melatonin.
Invest in a quality mattress. After all, you spend approximately a third of your life on it!
Invest in a heavy or weighted blanket, particularly if you feel anxious.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Routines also aid the sleep cycle.
Wear loose clothing to bed, confining clothes can impact your sleep.
“Sufficient sleep, exercise, healthy food, friendship, and peace of mind are necessities, not luxuries.” – Mark Halperin
If the above strategies do not help improve your sleep, consider hiring a sleep coach. They may be able to provide you with some insight into things that are causing your sleepless nights.
There are many benefits to improving your sleep. You will improve your memory and increase your attention span. There are anti-aging effects including, decreased stress, sleep is a natural antidepressant, and expanded longevity.
Make sure you set aside some time to implement sleep strategies so that you can rest well and live your ideal life.