How many physician visits are due to stress and inflammation?
I don’t have the numbers, but I imagine lack of sleep is a big contributor to poor health issues and also leads to a negative physical appearance.
On average, how many hours of sleep are you getting every night?
A common excuse for not sleeping enough is lack of time. You’ve got 20 things that just have to get done, so you start cutting a few hours of sleep here and there.
You may already know that lack of sleep drastically depresses performance in every area of life.
Not only will creativity, energy and drive decrease, it will also take longer to complete simple tasks.
That brain fog that comes with poor sleep reduces the ability to see multiple options. Things that are easy when we are well rested become difficult.
There is a difference between hard work and effective work.
Many of us sacrifice sleep to get more work done and fail to see that we are not being effective.
I would argue that we aren’t meant to be night creatures. Going against our biology will lead to a cascade of negative consequences.
Studies have shown that just one night of sleep deprivation can make you as insulin resistant as a type-2 diabetic!
Now you are aging faster AND storing more body fat.
Similar studies show a 6% decrease in glucose reaching the pre-frontal cortex. Simple translation; we get dumber when we don’t sleep enough.
This leads to bad choices when reaching for food, and even bad choices with relationships.
Now you are aging faster, storing more body fat AND regretting the argument you got into last night!
I could go on, but if you are sold on the importance of good sleep, the next question is, what to do?
Here are 2 simple steps you can implement right away to get started.
Strategy #1: Try to get 20 minutes of sunlight in the morning.
Cortisol has a bad reputation as the stress hormone but we need cortisol to help get us up and going.
The problem with cortisol is when the body secretes too much. Getting sunlight between the hours of 6 AM and 8 AM will set our circadian timing and optimize cortisol secretion.
This will help cortisol go down at night when melatonin should be increasing.
Our body picks up light through photoreceptors in the skin, so even if you work in an office, get out of the cubicle and at least spend some time in front of a window.
Strategy #2: Implement a screen and bedtime curfew.
I love my iPhone but it is easy to get too much of a good thing.
Technology has allowed us to utilize light in a way we haven’t been able to before. We can actually manufacture a second daytime.
There is an inverse relationship between cortisol and melatonin and the light coming from your device (phone, computer, TV), will suppress melatonin production.
Don’t think of melatonin as the sleep hormone, it is the ‘get good sleep’ hormone.
You may be able to fall asleep soon after watching the latest Netflix show, but the quality of that sleep will be drastically reduced.
You’ll wake up tired and without energy.
Shawn Stevenson, author of the book Sleep Smarter, recommends putting the screens away 90 minutes before going to bed and taking advantage of the optimal window of sleep time; between 10 PM and 2 AM on average (depends on time of year and how far you are from the equator).
This will allow for melatonin to be secreted and optimized in your system, leading to deeper and more rejuvenating levels of sleep.
Better sleep can improve mood, focus, and insulin sensitivity. It can lead to faster recovery from exercises you are doing, and even developing better relationships.
Take action on these two sleep strategies for the next two weeks and notice how you feel.
Better sleep can be as simple as getting more light in the day and less light at night.
Investing time in quality sleep now will lead to big rewards down the road.
Wah Lum Kung Fu and Tai Chi
Control Your Health
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