Bye Bye Sleeping Through the Night - 5 ways to overcome sleep deprivation
Bye Bye Sleeping Through the Night
Have you said “bye bye” to sleeping through the night and have sleep deprivation?
Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?
Is it sleep deprivation?
Our sleep patterns change as we get older. Midlifers often report finding it harder to drop off to sleep and also difficulties staying asleep too. But the recommendation of 7-9 hours of sleep per night stays the same throughout adulthood. This means many midlifers experience sleep deprivation.
I remember the physio telling me, during a bout of injury, that I needed to be getting 9 hours of sleep a night. But with an alarm call at 5:30am that would have meant being asleep by 8:30pm! And whilst I have to admit that sounds fantastic, it’s also totally unrealistic.
So I do appreciate that it’s hard to meet the recommendations. Even 7 hours per night can be hard to achieve on any sort of consistent basis, especially if you’re waking several times in the night.
But, it’s worth paying attention to your sleep. As we established in this previous blog post, sleep is one of the factors affecting our stress hormones and sleep deprivation can make us more likely to deposit fat around the middle.
Do not fear, I have some great, easy to implement tips for overcoming sleep deprivation!
The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing
Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we're just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.
Sleep deprivation affects just about everything in your body and mind. People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance and inflammation.
Research earlier this year linked midlife sleep difficulties with cognitive decline later in life compared to those midlifers who had uninterrupted sleep. And don't forget the impact sleep deprivation can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.
Do you know that sleep deprivation may even negate the health benefits of your exercise programme?
In fact, what aspect of health does sleep not affect?!
Knowing this it's easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:
To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” while we sleep.
To improve our brain's ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
To conserve some energy so we're not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.
As mentioned in the intro, it's recommended that all adults get 7 - 9 hours a night.
So, try not to skimp!
(Don't worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)
5 ways to get your sleep habits supporting your weight loss and avoid sleep deprivation
The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you're more likely to achieve it. This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off. Days. A. Week. I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.
Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fibre). Make sure you're getting some protein every time you eat. Try to allow time between your dinner and your bedtime rather than going to bed on a full stomach.
If you’re struggling to reduce your sugar intake and want to balance your blood sugar levels, why not join the FREE 5 day sugar free challenge
During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it's daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
Cut your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm (this was also discussed in Coffee – are there any benefits or side effects?) Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it's the “added” sugar we're minimising. Yes, this includes your beloved afternoon chai latte. Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening plus I find myself awake about 2:00am if I’ve been on the coffee.
Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 - 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath. I’ve started using the iphone software to set limits on my phone usage between 8:30pm-7:00am. This has been easier than I thought and it's certainly stopped any lazy social media scanning first thing in the morning with the alarm on snooze! I can really recommend it.
So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?
The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Midlife Menu Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.