Among the many duties we juggle daily, quality sleep often takes the back burner. This may not seem like that big of a deal in your 20s or 30s, but the repercussions eventually show up in your health and your waistline. Even if you’re younger and sleep deprivation hasn’t caught up yet, you’re still functioning at a much lower level than you could be. Sleep doesn’t just affect the next day’s priorities, it also has major consequences on your health and long-term effects on your skin.
“I read recently that lack of sleep can lead to chronic illness and other serious health issues. Kids, a job with crazy hours, and personal stress. I can’t seem to ever get a great night’s sleep, it’s always something!” Unfortunately, we hear this at OnePeak Medical more often than not from our patients. That’s why we’ve dedicated an entire blog to sleep and how you can reach your sleep goals!
Sleep is a Foundation for an Energetic, Joyful, Healthy Life
Getting poor-quality sleep, or not enough sleep, adversely affects hormones that can make you tired, fat, and moody. Contrary to popular belief, your body doesn’t just turn off when you lay down to go to sleep. In fact, many body operations turn on when you sleep, such as your body’s ability to make important hormones that keep you balanced. In fact, a recent study found that just one partial night’s sleep could create insulin resistance, creating a path for diabetes and many other problems.
Stress can become a big issue, but with the knowledge comes great power to change your personal life through your sleep regimen.
I used to think 4-5 hours per night was sufficient. My friends were functioning at a number that was just as low as mine, so I thought it can’t be that bad! I even Googled if “five hours was sufficient to function” whenever I got a bad night’s sleep. Any article that told me it was enough made me feel better.
Something that took me a while to learn is that five hours may feel good to some people (or they might be feeling good when they talk to you in the morning and are crashing by 4pm), but it’s all about knowing yourself and getting in tune with YOUR body.
Find a Number That Feels Good to You
Don’t worry if it’s higher than someone else’s number. This doesn’t make you a lazy person, it makes you a smart person because you know yourself! Some of the most successful people in the world could be achieving more if they learned to listen to their bodies better. In the end, if you feel good, you will be better at giving your full energy and attention to the people you love.
Trial and error is a great way to figure out what works for you. Many people feel more alert and focused with seven to eight hours of good sleep (yes, even extremely busy people who are important like you), but I realize it can be a real challenge.
Five Ways to Accomplish a Better Night’s Sleep
1. Clear the mind.
When you’re finally quiet your thoughts, something small at night can quickly become something big – hindering your sleep greatly. One way to calm the mind is to keep a journal or notebook by your bed and write down your to-do list or ruminations before you go to sleep. For those who love to write and are highly creative, give yourself a set amount of time to journal and then continue with your sleep regimen so you don’t get caught up in a creative spiral. Use it solely as a tool to decompress – not to create an entire business plan or write your next book!
2. Guided meditation.
I have used this for the last three years and my sleep has improved tremendously. Friends staying in hotels with me while traveling were definitely skeptical, maybe even creeped out, when they heard a stranger’s soothing voice coming from a darkened room. The funny thing is, most of my friends now do some sort of meditation before bed and they are totally addicted. I enjoy the apps Calm, Headspace, and Guided Mind, and Kerie Logan’s guided imagery on a “Good Night’s Sleep” is also wonderful.
3. Essential oils are your best friend.
Oils are a great natural option to achieve a relaxed state of mind and increase the overall health of your endocrine system. I recommend the all-natural, paraben-free, vegan, organic BalanceDocs Go to Sleep Lotion. It contains organic essential oils such as lavender, Roman chamomile, and ylang-ylang. It works like a charm! You can purchase it in any OnePeak Medical clinic or online.
4. Environment is key.
Only use your bed for sleep. Don’t keep a television in your bedroom. Keep your room cool and un-cluttered. Make your bed your sleep retreat: keep it clean, organized, and made daily (looking inviting). Eliminate things in your room that keep you awake such as animals, TV, or a snoring person (get them help). Many people find purchasing a white noise sleep machine helps reduce your attention to the environment and distractions from unavoidable noises. I personally use one and love it. Never underestimate what your environment can do for your health!
5. Use natural herbal therapies.
Before I knew the power of natural therapies I was guilty of taking an Advil PM, Benadryl, and even NyQuil on nights when I felt desperate to fall asleep. These often act as quick gratification but can have negative long-term consequences on the liver, kidneys, and gut health. PLUS they make you feel groggy the entire next day! You’re better off with less sleep than the “sleep hangover” feeling. Many of our patients at OnePeak Medical Clinic (including myself) have cracked their sleep code with our supplements.
Nisha Jackson is a nationally recognized hormone and functional medicine expert, lecturer, motivational speaker, radio host, columnist, author of “Brilliant Burnout” and founder of OnePeak Medical Clinics in Oregon. For 30 years, her approach to medicine has successfully reversed chronic problems such as fatigue, brain fog, depression, insomnia and lack of stamina.
This story was originally published on the OnePeak Medical Center Blog.