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How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Written by Bonnie Flemington

Do you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep? If your answer is yes, then you’re not alone. It is estimated that 25% of adults are dissatisfied with their sleep, and 10-15% report that their sleep issues negatively impact their ability to function during the day.

A lack of sleep impacts more than your energy levels and ability to concentrate on your work. It has far-reaching consequences for your health.

A lack of sleep affects just about everything in our bodies and minds. People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for many health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. Not to mention effects like a slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance and inflammation.

What can you do?

Optimize Blood Sugar

You may not realize that your diet has a huge impact on your sleep. Many sleep problems are related to blood sugar spikes and crashes. If you eat refined sugar, flour, or processed foods, you are more likely to experience disruption in the amount or quality of your sleep.

If you end your day with a blood sugar spike (hello, night-time snacking!), you have set yourself up for a corresponding crash when you sleep. Your body responds to these crashes by increasing cortisol (our stress hormone) to bring blood sugar back up, which wakes you up or causes restless sleep. This is also how drinking alcohol before bed adds to sleep problems.

Start your day with a high-protein meal so that you don’t get on the blood sugar roller coaster to begin with. Healthy fat and fiber are also important to keep your blood sugar steady. Make sure each meal includes these components, and you avoid alcohol. Not only will your sleep improve, but you will also have steady energy during the day.

Manage Your Stress

Once again, cortisol is at play here. When you are stressed or ruminating about something, your body produces cortisol, which can cause you to wake when you’d rather be asleep.

Having a system to manage your thoughts before sleep is key. One of the best ways to calm an active mind before bed is through journaling. This can help you get your thoughts down on paper and out of your mind so that you can relax. Adding in some gratitude journaling gives you something positive to focus on instead.

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

It can take more than eating right and journaling to help you sleep. There are many

components to good sleep hygiene, and it starts in the morning!

  • Get bright, natural light first thing in the morning. Ideally, get outside so the sun can hit your face and reset your circadian rhythm. This is the time of day we want to maximize our cortisol for energy!

  • Have regular mealtimes. Our body works best with routine, and when our meals are regular, our sleeping will be as well. Ensure that you avoid caffeine in the afternoon and avoid eating 3 hours before bed. Anything that raises our body temperature at this time can make it hard to get to sleep (this includes both eating and high-intensity exercise).

  • Create a non-negotiable bedtime routine. Winding down without screens is key, as the blue light from screens keeps the pineal gland from making the melatonin you need. Also, ensure your sleeping space is cool and dark to support optimal sleep. Wear a sleep mask if you need to.

As always, pick one strategy to start with, and when you have made that a daily habit, come back and start on the next tip so you become a good sleeper, too.


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