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Jul 08

Build Your Best Self While You Sleep. 10 Tips to Help You!

Guest blog by Stephanie Williamson | Inspired Training

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While my grandchildren have NO problem sleeping, and my husband is very good at sticking to a regimented set bed time each night, I never seem to get enough.  Never.  I’m tired around 3 or 4 in the afternoon but I wake up around 6 or 7 and before I know it, it’s 11, 12, or even later.  Pretty typically, I get up at 5 or 530, so this is not ideal.  It’s not great for my mood, my health, my appearance, and definitely not for my concentration.  Did you know that a lack of sleep can affect everything from your heart to your weight?

I’ve tried many tips, and done a lot of reading about getting more sleep.  I know it’s important to have a bedtime routine and to limit both caffeine and technology before bed.  I know that I personally do better if I have a little something to eat before bed (something like maybe a protein waffle or cottage cheese – nothing major).

Recently I’ve considered setting an alarm when it’s time for me to shut everything off and head to bed.  Today, though, as I have been up since 430, following 4 hours of sleep, I turned to my friend, Stephanie Williamson, at www.stephwillinspire.com for suggestions.  Steph is the creator of Inspired Training and promotes the {Eat Well, Train Smart, Love Always} Lifestyle. She was nice enough to provide these 10 tips for getting to sleep a little easier.

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I love sleeping!  In fact, my bed might be my favorite place on earth. Not everyone feels the way I do about sleep, but maybe you should allow yourself to explore the wonders of good sleep. Maybe you’ll even apply my “early bed time” rule. I am in bed either reading or relaxing by 9 PM… 8 PM if I’m extra lucky!

Phrases like “Sleep is for the weak” and “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” are going out of style. The importance of sleep is being researched and proven true. Not only does it make us more productive and alert, it can help our performance at the gym! When we sleep our bodies do amazing things. We release HGH which is a Human Growth Hormone. HGH helps us build and repair muscles which can improve our fitness level and our performance at our next work out. Research backs up the theory that it is not the training that improves our performance, but the sleep we get while recovering that really boosts our personal best. Now it is important to mention that quality of sleep counts too.

When we sleep we go through 5 stages of sleep. Each stage is important to our bodies, minds, and ability to perform daily activities as well as fitness goals.

 

Here is a short overview:

Stage 1: Light sleep. Loss of self awareness, start to relax

Stage 2: A light dreamless sleep. Breathing and heart rate slow down.

Stage 3: First stage of deep sleep called slow-wave sleep. HGH is released

Stage 4: Deep slow-wave sleep. Helps replenish physical and mental energy

Stage 5: REM sleep. This is where dreaming occurs.

 

You want to be able to get through multiple sleep cycles each night.  If you are tossing and turning you are most likely not getting into stages 3-5 which is what really helps us recover. You want better results, don’t just focus on going to bed early. Work on getting better quality sleep.

Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, unfortunately most of us are only getting about 6.5 hours a night. This is quite an issue in our society today. Some people sacrifice sleep not knowing the full effect of what they are doing. Losing 1-2 hours of sleep a night can really impair performance, memory, attention, and judgment. Chronic poor sleep can cause that awful feeling we get that we cannot catch up. This includes being irritable, getting muscle ache, headaches, unable to focus or complete the most simple tasks. We all know how that feels right?! Did you know that lack of sleep contributes to other issues like: diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression? That pillow is sounding better and better!

The icing on the cake here: You naturally eat less fats and carbohydrates when you get enough sleep!!!! So if you’re still awake to finish this paragraph I can explain. Lack of sleep messes with our hormones. Men and women both have this issue. Sleep deprivation can cause a rise in cortisol (a stress hormone) which makes us crave high fat comfort foods. When we are tired we also mess with the hormones that send signals to our brain that we are hungry or full, causing us to overeat when we do not need to. There is an average gain of some where around 1-2 pounds in a study done on people not getting enough sleep. Put down the peanut butter and crackers and just head to bed, trust me, you’re probably more tired than you are hungry.

Bottom line: Getting more sleep will help improve our lifestyle and get the results we want in the gym.

 

Here are 10 Quick tips to help you get to sleep:

  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol consumption right before bed
  • Try to limit your use of electronics 90 minutes before bed. LED screen signal our brains to stay awake
  • Keep the house a bit cooler near bed time, our bodies like to sleep in cool conditions
  • Use your bed for only sleep, snuggles, sexy time, and relaxation reading
  • Your last meal should be at least 90 minutes before bed time
  • If you cannot fall asleep, get out of bed and do something productive until you feel tired enough to sleep
  • Limit lights and sounds in your bedroom, and make sure you have a comfy bed and pillow

 

  • Square Breathing Technique Stress and Sleep

Sometimes our bodies and minds are still too active at night to fall asleep. Often times this is a result of stress from our day. The Square Breathing Technique can help you calm yourself during stressful times as well as help you calm yourself into sleep. Here is a simple info graphic to show you how it’s done.

Square Breathing

 

 

 

[Debbie’s note:  I DO this.  It is fantastic for shutting off all those noises in your head.  Things like, “Tomorrow I need to xyz.  Did I abc? etc.  Give it a shot!!]

 

 

 

  • Yoga for Relaxing in Bed

 A night time yoga class can help you wind down after a long day, and help you slip into bed with a relaxed state of mind. I count on my gently yoga at night to help me get my best sleep. If you don’t have the option of a night time gentle yoga class try these few poses from Fitness Magazine Online

Yoga

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/yoga/poses/yoga-routine-before-sleep/?page=1

 

  • Herbs and Tea to help you get better ZzZzZzZz

If you need a little extra herbal support to help you catch your zzz you can use an herb capsules. Please ask your doctor or health care professional if these are right for you. They should only be used as a short term solution not a permanent or on-going solution.

Valerian Root – Is often used to help promote sleep. You can get this in capsule or tea form from your local health food store

A warm tea can help you relax before bed. It helps soothe you, and set you up for your best relaxation. I suggest drinking the tea about 30-40 minutes before bed. That way you have a chance to empty your bladder before sleep. No one likes to be woken up in the middle of an awesome dream session just to go pee!

My favorite pre-bedtime teas are:

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 8.58.02 PM

 

I am not affiliated with Traditional Medicinals Teas, but I do love them for all sorts of tea remedies =)

I hope this information and helpful tips can help you get the sleep you and your body deserve. Get better results with better sleep!

That being said…I’m off to bed now. Good night!

– Steph

7 comments

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  1. Melanie T. Campbell

    Great tips. I wonder if lack of sleep gets worse the older you get. I LOVE sleeping. I can sleep like a baby if it’s daylight but when it gets dark, I toss and turn. I must be nocturnal … LOL! Love the idea of square breathing and also the different teas. I’ve found that lavender essential oil also works well. Thanks for the wonderful ideas and body awareness information.

    1. Hatcher252

      I am nocturnal also, Melanie. Lol.

  2. Danielle Howell

    Great tips here as I drink a cup of coffee… I never have had a problem sleeping but my husband on the other hand tosses and turns and snores uugghh, so you can just imagine my night most evenings, however, I do find unwinding by doing a nice meditation and drinking chamomile tea like you suggested definitely helps to relax me on this nights when my husbands nightly actions are too much to bear.
    Thanks for the tips!
    Much success to you,
    Danielle

  3. Chris McDonald

    I WILL try these, one at a time till I find out what works. I am 60 and lately sleep has been horribly elusive. Last night I was awake until 5:30 AM, woke at 11:30. This has been going on for a while now, every other day and it has to stop. I am getting desperate!

    1. Hatcher252

      I understand your desperation, Chris!! Once you find something that works, please let me know what it was for you.

  4. Buddy

    In the coimcplated world we live in, it’s good to find simple solutions.

    1. Hatcher252

      Thank you! Glad you found it helpful.

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