Catching some ZZZzzzzs
We all love sleep, whether its sleeping in or getting a good night’s rest
This morning, all of my teacher friends (myself included) started off the day saying “Happy New Year” and “Welcome Back” … and then progressed to explain how they “could not sleep last night after such a wonderful break.”
We all know that sleep is important, but these past two weeks really allowed me to realize how much sleep affects our mood, diet, and exercise habits.
For instance, there were several days in December, between studying for grad school finals, writing my own final exams, wedding planning and preparing for the holidays, that I was in bed after midnight and up before 6am .
What happened the next day? You could probably guess…
Crankiness, eating LOTS of snacks (chocolate, chips, you name it), and feeling too tired to complete my daily workouts 😦 – The worst part was that all of these behaviors kept spiraling and repeating themselves!
Here is the good news!
A recent study found that when a group of people slept an extra 1.5 hours per night for a month, they had a 14% drop in overall appetite and a 62% decrease in desire for sweet and salty snacks.
A lack of sleep can alter signals in the brain that correspond with your appetite and cause you to seek out sweet, salty or savory snacks.
Aha! That has been my problem this past month (along with the yummy snack surrounding me). During this past vacation, I finally was able to sleep in, rest, and recharge my batteries, which allowed me to get “back on track” with my diet and exercise routine!
I also did a little research and came up with 10 tips to increase my sleep quality and quantity during 2015 🙂
I hope they help you too!
Ten Tips to Catch More ZZZZZs
1. Plan your outfits the night before, or on Sunday nights for the whole week.
2. DVR your favorite nighttime shows (if you don’t have this, try Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime … or ask a friend to record it).
3. Drink up! Sip some 100% pure cherry juice (or better yet, eat some cherries) or herbal tea before bed. Many clinical psychologists found that cherry juice and herbal tea (check out chamomile) may easy anxiety. A study at the New York Sleep Institute confirmed these results. Just make sure your tea doesn’t contain caffeine!
4. Stretch it out! A light stretch or some gentle yoga poses can put your body at ease. Try some deep breathing or the happy baby pose (Lie on your back, bend your knees into your chest and grab the outsides of your feet with your hands. Keep your feet flexed and gentle rock side to side).
5. Bath Time Beware! Hot baths are okay, as long as you take them an hour or two before going to bed. The water raises your body temperature, which needs to dip naturally before you can fall asleep. If you take a bath or shower and then hop in bed, you may have trouble dozing off right away. This may be a hard habit for me to break, although it usually takes me an hour to get ready for bed after a bath or shower.
6. Stop counting sheep! A recent study (based off of several other studies) found that counting sleep caused before to stay awake longer than those who used visualization or did nothing at all. People who visualized a peaceful, beautiful, or relaxing scene fell asleep 20 minute sooner than people who did nothing. Just don’t visualize yourself doing anything high intensity (skydiving) which could increase brain activity and keep your from falling asleep. Fiji, here I come!
7. Sleep with a firm and contoured pillow. Although I love my feathery down, the gap between the head and neck should be supported. A proper pillow is actually WAY more important than a mattress. A sleep study at UCLA said that mattresses minimally affect sleep quality and spinal health… Who knew?
8. Sleep on your back. I love to snuggle up on my right side, but sleeping on your back puts your head, neck and spine in a nice neutral position. It may even help ease back aches and pains!
9. Avoid spicy foods at dinner for better sleep quality. I always knew that spicy foods could cause indigestion, but it can actually affect your body temperature, which means you may not be able to proper shift through both light and deep sleeping phases.
*In the AM
10. Skip either your shower, blow-drying your hair, your coffee in bed, or the morning news. An extra 10, 15, 20 or 30 minutes of sleep can help you stick with your mood, nutrition and exercise goals 🙂