Sleep: that vital, often elusive, ever-changing facet of our lives with which we may have all but given up on pursuing a healthy relationship. But it may have more to do with the overall picture of your health than you realize. I have a family history of obesity, diabetes, heart disease…and insomnia (thanks, genetics). So I have to be very proactive in fighting for my sleep. And so do you.

With only 6 hours of sleep, your obesity risk rises 23%. 5 hours, it increases to 50%. 4 hours…73%! That’s because leptin, the satiety hormone, drops and ghrelin, the hunger hormone, goes up. So the extra weight you’re carrying could be due to more than diet alone. Here are some practical tips:

Make your room completely dark. No LED lights. No night lights etc. your eyes have light receptors, but did you know your skin does, too? Not in the budget to get blackout curtains? Get a high quality eye mask. Yeah, skin receptors won’t be fooled, but it’s better than nothing at all. Here’s the one I recommend. Click Here.

Unplug from any and all screens at least 2 hours before going to bed. Night time light exposure suppresses melatonin production which is a major hormone controlling sleep and wake cycles. The blue light from computer/ipad/phone screens can be incredibly impactful on melanin production. The obvious solution – two hours before bed don’t look at them. A more realistic solution, download a program called f.lux to get rid of the sleep-reducing blue light.

Go to bed at the same time every night and establish some consistent nightly rituals. A diffuser with lavender turned on at the same time each night, a warm bath, turning lights down low, calming music (I know, but it sounds heavenly, right?).

Nap when you need to. If you feel you’re hitting a consistent afternoon slump, your diet may have a LOT to do with it. But instead of reaching for another cup of joe every day, consider closing your eyes for a bit. According to Mark Sisson, just a 20 minute nap can help you catch up on sleep deficiencies from the previous night. Lunch time car siesta, anyone?

Temps 60-68 degrees. Studies show we sleep much better in these cooler temps. Temperature setting much out of this range either way can cause restlessness and affect quality REM. It’s so common for women to want it cooler at night and men to want it warmer, but better sleep is shown in the ranges for both sexes. Since there’s science to it, maybe our men-folk will be on board! And all the ladies said, “Hallelujah!”

Take 1 tsp to 1 T of raw honey before bed. Carb storage from the liver is used by the brain at night. Raw honey can supply glucose keeping your blood sugar stable through those nighttime hours.

Kill the coffee consumption after 2pm. Clients often tell me they aren’t affected by caffeine, yet they deal with insomnia. That 3:00 cup may be one of your main culprits. If you still need a bit of help, Salted Caramel Tea by Yogi and chamomile teas can be an additional sleep aid. I’ve also found great benefits by taking Insomnitol by Designs for Health which contains valerian, passion flower, and lemon balm.

There are other tips and tricks for better sleep, but these are some of the more practical ones I’ve found through research and self-experimentation. Implementing any of these changes will be helpful. Implementing all will be life-changing!

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