For months, I have had it on my ‘to-do’ list to get to bed earlier. But, there was always something else to get done in the evening. Not to mention, I do love relishing in the quiet after a full day of active little people in the house. So like most lifestyle changes, it took a brick wall before I finally decided to change. You know that cough, cold crud going around? I got it too. I felt really cruddy for 4-5 days and then seemed to get somewhat better. So, I just assumed I was on the mend and went about life like I normally do. Bedtime schmedtime. I can get more done if I stay up a little longer!
But, next thing I knew, a full month had gone by and I was still hacking. WHAT?! Wait, I do want to have clear lungs again. It was time to get uber-disciplined and make good on that go-to-bed-earlier resolution. I wanted clear lungs and I wanted them yesterday. I pulled out all the stops. I loaded up on the highest strength immune-boosters I had on hand, took a hot bath and crawled into bed at 9pm. The next morning I could breathe better. And each day after that. Fine universe. You win. Again. No more cutting corners on bedtime. I GET IT.
If you are fighting that go-to-bed or stay-up-just-a-little-longer-and-get-one-(or five)-more- thing-done battle, I hear you. But, let’s talk about why sleep is so important. And possibly more important for women:
Your circadian rhythm is the cornerstone to all hormones. If your circadian rhythm is off, then likely so is everything else: estrogen, progesterone, LH, FSH, leptin, ghrelin. One of the first steps to getting all hormones back in check is better, longer sleep.
We clean out the body’s garbage best at night while we are sleeping. When the body doesn’t have to work on everything else it needs to do to run ‘you’ during the day, it takes the evening hours to clean house. This includes toxins, cellular waste, used hormones and battled bacteria, fungi and viruses.
One week of reduced sleep (6 hours or less) cuts the antibody formation in response to an immune challenge in half. IN HALF. When you feel a cold coming on, this is definitely not the time to skimp on sleep.
Melatonin increases the level of the growth hormones. Ever noticed how your kids wake up taller? During sleep is when your body is able to rebuild and repair bones and muscle tissue. To get the most bang for your buck on that workout you did during the day, you need to sleep.
I can hear you clear over here.
“That all sounds nice Kristi, but I still JUST CAN’T get to bed earlier. It’s my quiet time, that’s when I get X done, I just don’t calm down until 11 or 12, or I’m just not tired at night.”
Here are my tips to help you get to bed earlier.
- Eat dinner by 7pm. Your body doesn’t like to sleep while still digesting and you want to give it a good 2-3 hours to work the food through the stomach and down into the small intestine.
- Eat starchy carbohydrates at dinner. When you eat the bulk of your carbohydrates at the evening meal they help induce sleep.
- No coffee or chocolate past 3pm. I know you may be crashing at 4 or 5pm and looking for that pick-me-up, but drink a tall glass of water with a pinch or two of sea salt instead. You will be nourishing your adrenals but not disrupting your circadian rhythm for the day.
- As much as you may like it to, alcohol does not induce restful sleep. It may help you fall asleep, but it does not set you up for a restorative sleep. Instead it leaves your body with a blood sugar challenge it has to balance and secondly, you just hit your liver with an extra burden for the night. Think of the liver as the Mom of the house. She has 500 things on her to do list and she doesn’t need another ‘to-do’.
- Turn off the computer, tv, phone, or I-pad at least 30 minutes before you want to be in bed, for extra credit, turn it off 60 minutes before.
- Take 10 minutes before you get in bed to meditate. Two of my favorite positions at night are legs up the wall or lying on the bed with my head slightly off the edge and a rolled up towel under my neck for traction. This feels amazing.
- Finally, give yourself some time to wind down with a good book before turning off the light. Choose a book that allows you to completely escape from your day-to-day world and give your brain a change of pace to settle into a more parasympathetic pace (relaxed) and ultimately a more restful sleep.
Try getting to bed 30 minutes earlier for the next several days. What does it do for you? Does it change your energy during the day? Focus? Appetite?