This subject has been on my mind for quite some time. This post is meant to be a bit of social commentary, as well as an incentive to educate yourself and come to your own conclusion on the subject of sleep. These are things I've recently learned and think are interesting, and I want to know what you think. Are you going to bed at a reasonable time? What does "reasonable" mean? Does it really matter? Why does it matter?
Honestly, I do think it matters. If you're a night owl, you know that around 10pm, you often will get a second wave of energy, and sometimes an appetite for late night snacking. That's why this is a chosen time for people to engage in social activities or pull an all-nighter to study. Bars and clubs specifically open at 10pm and close at 2am, and I don't think it's by coincidence.
If you do get this second wind, it takes awhile for your body to wind back down, making insomnia a miserable issue. I've heard a theory that falling asleep at around 10pm can prevent this second wind, especially if you engage in a few activities to give your body signals that it's time to get ready for bed. What have you guys heard, or what are your opinions on this?
The Importance of sleep.
Your body's most important function is sleep. Sleep is the most healing and restorative part of your day. You can stress about diet and exercise all you want, but if you're not making quality sleep a priority, you'll still struggle with your health. Not sleeping well can make you feel lethargic the next day. You'll be more likely to overeat to compensate, and that's because your appetite-inducing hormone, ghrelin, will increase with a lack of sleep. This is why you may still struggle with weight gain even if you're dieting and exercising.
seriously, turn off electronics.
Know that you are definitely not alone if your smartphone is the last thing you look at before falling asleep and the first thing you look at when you wake up. I am there also!! However, when you do that, you're exposing yourself to blue light, which is the back light color of these screens. Why is this a big deal? Because blue light shifts your body's natural clock and can reduce your melatonin levels (the sleep-inducing hormone).
The light around you and me naturally affects our bodies. When the sun comes up, our energy levels rise and our melatonin levels fall. When the sun sets, the inverse happens. Our energy levels go down and our melatonin increases to prep our bodies for sleep. But if you're constantly looking at a screen, you're exposing yourself to light at all times. Your body doesn't know when to produce the right hormones or go to sleep. I'm especially frustrated with myself concerning this right now, because this past week I dealt with four nights in a row of bad insomnia, to the point that I felt sick. It does make a difference!
If you have somewhere to be in the morning and struggle with falling asleep at night, try avoiding this second wind by going to bed at 10, and see how it affects you. Ending the night at this time can sound impossible (I get it), but there are some interesting ways I've read about that could help aid your body in preparing for sleep:
- take a relaxing bath
- stretch your body after a long day
- spend mindful, quality time with family
- cook your dinner, keeping it light and easy to digest
- take a light, 15 minute walk after dinner to aid digestion
- make/use facial masks
- massage your body with lotion/oil
- engage in a 1-2 hour detox from technology before bed
- dim your lights and light some candles
- turn on an essential oil diffuser
- head to bed and read a book instead of using your smartphone
If you absolutely have to look at a screen, turn on your blue-light filter. If all the ideas and things you realized you need to do pop into your mind right as you're falling asleep, simply write them down! Tomorrow you'll wake up and already be one step ahead on planning your day, and it didn't jeopardize your sleep.
How important do you guys think your sleep is? Where is it on your self-care priority list? How do you think it affects your daily life? I have a feeling it affects us more than we think. Let me know what you guys think about this in the comments! Xoxo ~ Sarah