Do you feel like you’ve had a messy breakup with sleeping through the night?

Are you feeling exhausted or basically running on fumes all day?

Keep reading! I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) to help you stay in bed all night long… for the other good reason. *ah-wink*

The science of sleep is fascinating, growing… and complicated

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. And how our adversely affected sleep in turn adversely affects our health… it’s a jumbly knot of causes and effects.

Lack of sleep dominoes into just about everything your body and mind wants to do. People who get less sleep on the regular 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 lack of sleep can have a profound impact on mood stability, memory, and decision-making skills.

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? *gasp!* Nobody wants to spend hours sweating it out and not be rocking the results for it!

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 zipping from task to task 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.

Seriously, try not to short-change yourself… so that you don’t short-circuit yourself.

(Don’t worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)

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 fewer 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, maybe not unsurprisingly, tell your body it really is 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. (Shift workers: try a daylight-simulating lamp, and make a point of moving around during those night shifts.)
  • Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. I know, I have a hard time with this myself! Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine – it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimizing. Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte. (Be aware that most coffee shop chai lattes are made with flavoured syrup concentrates instead of a fresh-brewed cup of infused tea. I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!) Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you generally want it to be come evening.
  • 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 a book, or having a bath.

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

Caffeine-Free Chai Latte

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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. I love cashew butter and hazelnut butter. And especially before bed, pumpkin seed butter is fantastic – it’s naturally rich in calming mineral magnesium and soothing amino acid tryptophan.

References:

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

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

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