Recently I began reading a book titled Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker. I had this title in my audiobooks list for a while but had hesitated because I thought “how much can one really discuss about sleep?” Turns out, a whole lot!
This book has opened my eyes to the critical power of a good night’s sleep. I mean, I knew sleep was important. But, wow- was this a (sorry, no pun intended!) wake up call! As a holistic nutritionist, I look far beyond what we eat and check in to how we live too. I have always talked to my clients about their sleep habits. I want to know how many hours you dedicate to sleep each night. What time do you go to sleep? What time do you wake up? Do you wake often during the night? How do you feel when you wake? Do you take naps? And on and on and on.
Typically I hear my clients report an average of six or so hours a night, going to bed between 11pm and 12am. They generally report they feel “pretty good” during their day. Sounds pretty good, right? But then we keep talking and these same clients can’t get themselves going in the morning until they have had their cup (or sometimes two!) of coffee. And they often tell me they feel like they need an afternoon jolt again too. Still pretty good? I am willing to bet that most of us do actually think this is pretty good, probably because we can relate!
But if you need a boost of caffeine to get you going in the morning, and you feel you are constantly chasing the energy bus all day long… chances are it’s less than pretty good. We have simply become accustomed to this routine, and when everyone else around us reports the same we accept this as the new normal. In reality, our bodies really do need eight or nine hours of sleep each night. And when we get this sleep, and improve the quality of said sleep, we don’t actually need that caffeine boost and experience more stable energy throughout the day. (And if you think you are one of those people genetically wired to operate on less, you will find the chances are pretty slim. Less than 1% of the world’s population falls into that category, as you will find in reading the book!)
Trying to lose weight? Did you know that poor or inadequate sleep may be contributing to your stubborn weight problems? It’s true, it wreaks havoc on your metabolism and hunger signals. Feeling forgetful and spacey? Lack of sleep could be at play here. It interferes with our brain’s ability to function. Seemingly minor health grievances like brain fog, low energy, lowered immune function and poor muscle healing post exercise can all be signs related to sleep issues. If we let it go on, we face potential serious illnesses such as increased cardiovascular risk, metabolic disorders and neurological conditions. Type II diabetes, dementia, Parkinsons, cancer… the list goes on.
So the question really comes down to “how do we get the sleep we need?”. It’s a tough one, and one I face often myself. With demanding schedules, family obligations, and our own personal needs too how exactly are we supposed to get it all done plus manage eight hours of sleep? Many nights we want the right sleep, but for one reason or another it’s just out of our reach.
Let’s work together on improving this in your life. Whether you need techniques to help you fall asleep or stay asleep, I can help. Time management more your issue? Or maybe you simply want to learn more about the right sleep needs of the body. Let’s avoid the cascade of health problems, hormone imbalances, and weight issues that can result from lack of sleep. Let me work with you to build a healthier sleep routine.