Change Your Sleep, Change Your Life - Movement-Rx

Change Your Sleep, Change Your Life!

Improving your sleep can literally change your life. 

From mental health to physical health, you can’t go wrong starting with sleep.

But for some reason, it’s a badge of honor to live our lives on as little sleep as possible. How would you change your approach to sleep if you knew that getting the optimal amount (8-10 hours) would make every dimension of your life better?

Here’s what you need to know about sleep:

#1. Sleep can help you with your other health goals with NO EFFORT

We’re not lying when we say that sleep is the easiest way to make progress toward your health goals. Here are some examples:

  • Weight loss: A full night’s sleep keeps your hunger hormones in check and prevents large blood sugar swings. Insufficient sleep increases your cravings for calorie-dense foods and ramps UP your hunger hormones.
  • Anxiety: A full night’s sleep puts the brakes on the area of brain that processes fear. Insufficient sleep removes the brakes and causes anxiety, frustration, and higher stress.

  • Building strength or endurance: A full night’s sleep helps your muscles recover from exercise and makes them stronger for the next workout. Insufficient sleep leaves you feeling fatigued, sore, and less motivated to workout due to low energy levels.
  • Heart Health: A full night’s sleep reduces your risk for heart diseases as it allows time for the heart to recover from the day’s strain. Insufficient sleep results in higher daytime blood pressure especially in middle aged people in high-stress jobs. Further, poor sleep triggers chronic inflammation which damages blood vessels. People who sleep less than 7 hours have an elevated risk of heart failure.
  • Improved Relationships: A full night’s sleep lowers irritability and reactivity and improves your ability to navigate conflict with loved ones. Insufficient sleep makes us pessimistic and lowers our ability to tune into our partner’s emotions.

#2. We MUST pay attention to the stimulants we are consuming.

Don’t get us wrong: we love a good coffee. But it’s easy to forget that caffeine is a stimulant, along with tea, chocolate, sodas, energy drinks, and nicotine. And no matter which way you slice it, no matter how long you’ve been drinking it, stimulants stimulate the brain, an effect you DON’T want when you’re trying to sleep. And they take longer than you think to clear our system: after 4-6 hours, only HALF of the caffeine has been processed out, leaving the rest of it still floating around your brain keeping you alert.

Keep your caffeine and stimulant consumption to the morning hours to give your body the best chance of clearing it before it starts to wind down…and remember that the more you drink, the longer it takes to clear. If you use nicotine, plan for at least a 4-hour window before bedtime. And note: the difficulty sleeping that comes with nicotine withdrawal typically resolves after you’ve stopped using nicotine!


#3. Certain lifestyle tweaks can improve your sleep

There are many ways to improve your sleep, which improves your health, which improves your sleep, and so on!  You can try the following:

  • Get outside in the morning sunlight for 10-15 minutes to strengthen your circadian rhythm. This bright light resets your clock so you’ll get sleepy slightly earlier
  • Avoid bright light at night (screens, TV, overhead lighting). Bright light at night keeps you more alert, which can be helpful if you need to stay up, but horrible if you need to sleep.
  • Get in daily moderate intensity exercise (this can be walking!). Exercise is known to make it easier to fall asleep and can improve deep sleep quality.
  • Use meditation to help you manage stress, which often keeps people up at night (“I just can’t turn my brain off”)

Perhaps the most helpful tweak of all is to PRIORITIZE sleep. You’ll be a better parent, a better partner, a more powerful worker, and most important, you’ll FEEL like a healthier, happier person from head to toe.

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