Recently, I was talking to a patient about the importance of sleep and she said, “I try to prioritize sleep, but my life is too crazy! I have 3 kids and work full-time. I don’t have time to sleep.” Do any of you feel the same way?

While I can completely understand the sentiment, I can’t help but push back on this idea. The problem is, you’re thinking of your time as a simple equation: “If you sleep for “x” amount of hours, that only leaves “y” hours to accomplish all these other things.” Let’s reframe that thinking. Instead, recognize that when life is hectic and you have to be on your “A” game, that’s when you need sleep the most. Good sleep can be your secret weapon! Better sleep will help you be more effective, more efficient, and in that way, get time back in your day, not take it away.

Now, let’s dig a bit deeper into some of the benefits that come from improving your sleep. It’s not just about feeling well-rested; we’re talking about a complete upgrade to your well-being. Improving your sleep has been linked to everything from a more robust immune system and better mood regulation to enhanced memory and cognitive function. Ever wondered why your gym efforts aren’t yielding the results you want? Quality sleep plays a crucial role in muscle recovery and weight management.

Yes, you read that right. Your poor sleep could be playing a big part in why the scale isn’t moving. First of all, if you’re sleep deprived, you are much more likely to be making poor food decisions. Eating a couple hundred extra calories every time you are in zombie-mode can really start to add up! Plus, it’s hard to get motivated to work hard in the gym if you barely have enough energy to get through your day. Besides these behavioral effects, sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your hormones, and that can make it even harder to lose (or maintain) weight. Sleep deprivation leads to:

  • Increase in ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and a decrease in leptin, the fullness hormone,  both of which can lead to more overeating. 
  • Increase in cortisol, the stress hormone, which can lead to increased appetite and increased fat storage. 
  • Blood sugar and insulin dysregulation, which can lead to increased fat storage and potential weight gain over time. 

So, let’s talk about action. What can you actually do to improve your sleep, feel better, and lose those extra pounds?

1. Create an Optimal Sleep Environment

Start by transforming your bedroom into a sanctuary for rest. Keep the room cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows that support your sleep posture. Consider blackout curtains to minimize external light and noise. Avoid working or watching TV in your bed if possible; you want to train your brain that your bed is a place for sleep. 

2. Sticking to a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Establish a regular sleep routine by setting consistent bedtime and wake-up times. Your body loves predictability, and sticking to a schedule helps regulate your internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally.

3. Crafting a Relaxing Wind-Down Routine

Unplug from screens at least an hour before bedtime. Engage in calming activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation, all in low light. This signals to your body that it’s time to wind down.

4. Morning Sun Exposure

Get your daily dose of natural light in the morning. Exposure to sunlight helps regulate your circadian rhythm, promoting alertness during the day and better sleep at night. So, as the weather improves, get outside for a short walk, even if it’s only a few minutes. Or at the very least, open the curtains and let the sunlight in. 

5. Incorporating Exercise into Your Day

Regular physical activity has been shown to both improve sleep quality and help you fall asleep faster. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. However, try to wrap up your workout a few hours before bedtime to allow your body to wind down naturally.

BONUS: Consider using a sleep tracker

Embrace technology to gain deeper insights into your sleep patterns. Investing in a reliable sleep tracker, such as the popular Whoop, can provide valuable data on your sleep duration and quality. These trackers can help you identify trends and triggers, and even offer personalized recommendations based on your sleep habits, empowering you to make informed adjustments for a more optimized sleep experience. Just remember, it’s not about perfection; it’s about progress. A sleep tracker can be a valuable ally on your journey to understanding and improving your nightly rest.

Consider this your wake up call (or your “go to sleep” call): No matter how busy you are, you do have time to prioritize sleep! In fact, you probably can’t afford not to. Make sleep your secret weapon by trying some of the action steps from this post, but know that change might not happen overnight. At times, there are other underlying health issues at the root of sleep problems, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your Practical Healing team or primary care office if you are not seeing progress with your sleep. 

Skip to content