Sleep – the most overlooked and underrated aspect of your overall health. So many of us put sleep on our backburner in order to get other “more important” things accomplished. However, a lack of sleep is harmful for your body. Here is why:
During sleep your body;
Releases hormones that regulate appetite control, stress, growth, and metabolic strength
Increases stamina and energy levels
Strenghtens immune system
Improves brain functionality to increase focus, alertness and creativity
Increases mood and helps reduce anxiety and mental exhaustion
Without sleep your body;
Decreases the release of a hormone called, leptin, which plays a HUGE role in appetite control therefore increases your likely hood to gain weight
Increases the amount of inflammatory proteins and blood sugar levels within the body which all increase your risk of illnesses, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and infection
Impairs your brain to function optimally which decreases your ability to process new information and also affects your mood and focus levels drastically.
So how much sleep do you need?
For anyone over the age of 18, it is recommended to get at least 7 -9 hours of sleep a night!
How can I sleep better?
Make a routine – try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
Give yourself at least 30 minutes to wind down – avoid using your IPhone, TV, or other electronic devices
Make your bedroom comfortable and completely dark
Reduce your caffeine intake; especially in the afternoon and night
Don’t overeat before bed
Limit beverage consumption so that you do not wake up in the middle of the night
Stress has so many immediate and long term negative effects on the body. These harmful effects can be both physical and mental. Stress can induce chronic disease, anxiety, depression, heart attacks, panic attacks, and other difficult health issues. Matter of fact, 90% of all chronic disease is caused by stress, and to make it worse, about 70% of the population knows that they are stressed out and only about 25-30% try to do something about it.
What are easy ways to reduce or deal with stress?
Breath. Yes, this may sound corny, but if you can really pause for a few minutes, close your eyes, and practice deep breathing you will immediately feel less stressed. Scientifically, your body can not release the hormone that causes relaxation at the same time as the hormones causing stress therefore this practice works if you focus. Simply inhale 4 to 8 counts of breath and exhale the same; repeat for a few minutes.
Journal. Taking a few minutes to write out how you are feeling will help you prioritize, organize, and refocus your thoughts. It may bring a new perspective or give you an “aha” moment that will help you calm down and distress.
Move. Many people find that exercise is a great way to release stress from the body. It can take your mind away from the issues or challenges at hand while pushing your body into a new level of awareness. When you exercise your body releases endorphins that cause you to feel good and motivate you to eat well and work harder. Exercise can be strenuous or just a light walk.
Sleep. So many people underestimate the importance of getting AT LEAST 7 hours of sleep every night. Inadequate sleep leads to decreases in important hormones that help manage stress levels within the body.
Hydrate. Dehydration does not allow your brain or body to function properly. Drinking the recommended amounts of water daily and avoiding large amounts of caffeine will help keep your mind conscious and more able to deal with challenges and changes thrown at you.
Eat Right. Avoid processed, sugary, or fatty foods. Having a strong and healthy body will give you more energy and fuel to work through stress or even totally avoid it. Here is a great article that discusses foods that aid with stress relief via Mind Body Green : http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4170/7-Foods-to-Fight-Stress.html
I know everyone says this but do you ever take action? Make it a daily assignment to refill that water bottle every couple of hours. Hydration is essential to good health, better digestion, clearer skin and mental clarity. If water seems boring try adding some cut up lemon or cucumber to add flavor. Lemon water has even more amazing health benefits and is especially great to have first thing every morning. It boosts your metabolism and aids with digestion all day long.
Get serious sleep; I am talking about at least 8-9 hours every night
We all are guilty of staying up late watching our favorite show or turning over the next page of a book we are drawn to, but putting sleep as a main priority will show serious health benefits. Even better; studies show that if you turn off all technology one hour before bed you sleep better and get more out of your sleep (I am still working on this one).
Move your body daily
Physical Activity is so important to your health. Physical activity does not mean you have to spend an hour at the gym each day. Moving your body can be a few laps around the office every few hours, it can be taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or it can be a gentle yoga class. Any movement of the body is better than none!
Eat foods that are found on the perimeter of a grocery store
This is the easiest way to think about eating for good health. A grocery store is set up with the fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and whole grains on the perimeter. All of your processed food is what sits in the aisles. Do your best to increase the percentage of food you buy to come from the perimeter.
Do one thing a day that makes you happy or smile
This tool is my favorite. In this day and age we are SO busy and constantly stressed we forget about ourselves sometimes. Happiness and love are so important to your health and making an effort to do one thing a day that you love and makes you smile will make your days and weeks so much better. It can be something as simple as taking an extra minute or two to enjoy your breakfast in the morning, stopping on the way home to get a new nail polish or some flowers, or pouring yourself that glass of red with dinner.