From my previous post I talked about how my motivation is not at it’s peak in January and February. It comes with spring, so although a new month and year is a great idea to start new goals, I usually fizzle out in a few weeks and then go back to my old routine I had at the end of the year before. You have to be honest with yourself when it comes to goals and this is one of my honest moments. So instead what I do, and encourage those who have the same problem, is I think of things you can start doing now that are healthier habits, or the habits you can start now that will help with your motivation when it comes time for the more challenging habits later.
Sleep In The Winter
The days get darker, the stress gets higher, and depression for a lot of people can be the worst in January and February. We are all just trying to make it to sunnier days. Some sleep more. Others are not able to sleep well. The less sunlight the more melatonin our bodies create and thus makes us more tired and sleepy. And the added emotional stress darker days can bring, it can have the opposite effect and keeping us up. So just because you might feel drowsy doesn’t mean you should keep hitting the snooze. Or just because “you don’t feel tired” doesn’t mean you can play another episode of your favorite show. No matter the time of year, our bodies still require the same amount of sleep. Of course the heavier meals, darker days, and warm cozy blankets make it hard to not to just want to nap and sleep longer. This is something I have to constantly have self control in.
Is there a danger in sleeping too much?
Sleeping Over 8 Hours On Average
Studies have shown that people who sleep more than 8 hours or up towards 10 hours have poorer health. Here are some of the results.
- Increases heart disease
- Harder to maintain a healthy weight
- Can raise blood sugar levels
- Brain fuzziness
- They wake up more frequently & not getting enough deep sleep
- Effect moods
Sleep is good and sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health, but too much of a good thing can be bad. If you are sick or recovering from surgery – then sleep as long as you need. But on a regular basis, oversleeping can be just as bad for you in different ways than not sleeping enough.
Not Enough Sleep And Nutrition
For one thing we know sleep is important for the brain although it stays highly functional throughout sleep. It helps with moods, anxiety, we can think clearer, make better decisions, and are more motivated. We know it also effects our energy levels. When we are tired, we sleep, and (usually) we wake up and have energy to last the day. Sleep gives your digestive system time to rest. When you sleep the need for fuel is reduced and your metabolism and digestive system slows down. It also gives your digestive system added energy the next day to do it’s job.
What about specifically nutrition?
- Makes you more vulnerable to inflammation. Those with inflammatory digestive disorders like IBD or IBS, sleep deprivation can make this worse, and then lead to a lack of nutrient absorption.
- Makes you crave sugar. Since you didn’t get a good night’s sleep your body wasn’t able to recharge like it needs to, so it’s crying out for energy! Your cell’s #1 source of energy is glucose (sugar). You start craving sugar in the morning and usually will reach for the less nutritious kinds of it. Move over apples, hello doughnuts!
- Makes you more hungry. Your hunger hormone, ghrelin, is elevated after a poor night’s sleep to be able to get more energy through food that it lacked through sleep.
- Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter and regulator when it comes to sleep. It is primarily found in your gut and is also essential for your digestive functions. If your levels of stress and sleep hormones, including serotonin, are not balanced, that means your digestive functions will be unbalanced as well. Your digestive tract won’t be able to absorb nutrients like it usually does or move the way a healthy gut would.
Whether you are sleeping over 8 hours or sleeping 6 or less hours a night, get your sleep schedule back on track for your mental and physical health. People vary when it comes to their sleep needs, but normal hours are anywhere from 6.5 – 8 hours. Here are some basic things that can help.
Sleeping Too Much (More than 8 hours):
- Sit up when you turn off your alarm.
- Turn your light on. I have a lamp on my night stand that isn’t too high voltage so it doesn’t blind me, but has light. Light helps to wake your body up naturally.
- Wake up and go to bed relatively at the same time (within 30 minutes) every day.
- Have a wake up routine. Once I sit up I do something to stimulate my brain. Even just texting my husband good morning, since he’s usually gone by the time I wake up, will help. Then onto morning stretches and going out of the room to get my morning glass of water.
Sleeping Too Little (6 or less hours):
- Set a time to be in bed 30 minutes or an hour before when you are suppose to be asleep.
- No screens while in bed.
- No alcohol an hour or two before bed. Although it’s a depressant and can make you feel sleepy, it doesn’t help your body naturally slow down, and puts excess stress on your liver when it already will be detoxing while you sleep. Alcohol also doesn’t help you stay asleep once you are asleep. A lot of times when I had a glass of wine too close to bed, I’ll wake up a good 3-4 times a night because I can’t stay asleep.
- Have a night time routine. Some nights that might be hard for me to go to bed, I make an herbal tea – sometimes meant for sleep, sometimes not. I do something that is relaxing and doesn’t involve a screen. Reading a book or magazine, coloring, drawing, etc. Some additional things might be lighting a candle and listening to calm music while in bed.