My War Paint

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Bye Bye Sleeping Through the Night

 

I’m a dark circle with a hit of under-eye puffiness type of girl.

I do not hide sleep deprivation very well and with a soon to be 3-year old that has decided to get up every 3 hours for the last two months, I’ve had to crack out some serious war paint.

Anyone close to me knows that lately, I’ve been obsessing with my families lack of quality sleep. 

Funny how it becomes all you talk about.   For every “how’s it going?”, I answer “I’m tired”, and every new mom that says her 2 month old “is sleeping through the night”, I  want to bop them on the nose.

This utter lack of mental clarity is because you feel achingly exhausted or are “running on stress hormones” all day.

In an effort to help everyone get a solid nights sleep (and save money buying concealer), here are some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we're just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.

It is funny how we can grow an ear in a petri dish but figuring out all the intricacies of sleep eludes us.

We do know this:

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.  People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. 

And don't forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods (ask my husband), memory and decision-making skills.  I.e.) don’t ask me anything but a “yes” or “no” question right now.

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)

OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect???

Knowing this, it's easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:

●      To restore our body and mind.  Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.

●      To improve our brain's ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.

●      To conserve some energy so we're not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

Do you know how much sleep adults need?  It's less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it's recommended that all adults get 7 - 9 hours a night.  For real!  

all those people that say they can go with only 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night – be careful.  They’re not human.

So what can we do to really help us get quality sleep (again, minus the 3 year old)

Tips for better sleep

●      The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule.  Make it a priority and you're more likely to achieve it.  This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off.  Seven. Days. A. Week.  I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.

●      Balance your blood sugar throughout the day.  You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber).  Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack).  Make sure you're getting some protein every time you eat.

●      During the day get some sunshine and exercise.  These things tell your body its daytime; time for being productive, active and alert.  By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.

●      Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12 pm (no I am not joking – if you have late afternoon crashes there is a reason why).  Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it's the “added” sugar we're minimizing.  Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte.  Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening time.

(HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).

●      Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 - 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off).  This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath.

So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?


Recipe (Caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”): Caffeine-Free Chai Latte

Serves 1-2

1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)

2 cups of boiling water

1 tablespoon tahini

1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)

2 dates (optional)

Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.

Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.

Blend until creamy.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip:  You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavour combination you like the best.  Cashew butter anyone?

References:

http://www.thepaleomom.com/gotobed/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/hacking-sleep