Sleep More; Be Happy

Endurance Wellness Coaching

College students were the personification of sleep deprivation and low quality sleep. A study wanted to know why that was. This study looked at 290 college students' sleep quality in relation to smoking, social media use, academic performance, and anxiety. Those who were sleep deprived, had irregular sleep schedules, or had poor sleep quality saw an inability to focus, increased use of caffeine and nicotine, extreme irritability and anxiety, drowsiness, and more susceptibility to illness. Any of those symptoms sound familiar?

Most people need about eight hours of sleep per night. Some need more, and some need less, but most people laugh when I ask them if they get anywhere near that. Chronic lack of sleep can contribute to symptoms of metabolic syndrome such as obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes, as well as the inability to fight off disease and infertility due to hormonal imbalances.

How do you know if you're not getting enough sleep?

  • You crave the carbs, or just any food, to perk up.
  • You're relying on caffeine or other stimulants just to keep your functioning. 
  • You're forgetting things. A lot. 
  • You're having trouble concentrating. 
  • Your skin lacks life and is dull and dry. 
  • You already have symptoms of metabolic syndrome (obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, or high blood pressure)
  • You're kind of mean, irritable, or moody. 
  • You're... wait for it... tired! 

If you really want to fix this issue, the easy solution is to just sleep more. However, you and I both know that it's not that easy. There's a reason your body is not sleeping like it should, and steps need to be made to reach its full snoozing potential. 

  • First, you need the opportunity to sleep soundly, which can be the hardest part. Don't give yourself only five hours to sleep before you have to get up for a big meeting, because then you're sacrificing both sleep time and sleep quality. If you are already sleep deprived, you owe your body a lot of sleep, and it doesn't forget. You may need more sleep than normal while you're catching up, but you'll settle around a good seven to nine hours when you get into a rhythm.
  • Then, you have to know yourself well enough to set yourself up for a good night during the day. Don't have things that upset your stomach, like milk or spicy foods for dinner. Those will keep both you and your stomach awake all night. If caffeine keeps you wide-eyed if you drink it after 2:00 pm, don't drink it after 2:00 pm!
  • Complex carbs are well known for helping you sleep. Not sugar, but your vegetables or whole grains. Keep those in your dinners to get tryptophan, the sleepy neurotransmitter, to your brain faster. Upping your B vitamins in can also get your sleeping better, so have some meats and beans with your dinner, too! Foods rich in calcium, magnesium, and melatonin such as yogurt, whole grains, and fish can also help fix deficiencies that are keeping you awake at night. 
  • Find your best exercise time. Some people exercise at night and get knocked right out. Others' body temperatures are just too high for too long if they exercise in the evening, keeping them from getting to sleep. 
  • Get yourself in a bedtime routine. Drink a cup of tea, read a book, and turn of the light. Disruption of routine, even by a few hours, can mess up your otherwise sufficient sleep.