As far as overall health is concerned nothing could be more simultaneously important and pleasant than a great night’s sleep! You have to get cozy with some sleep essentials to maximize your pillow time.
Sleep is often overlooked in the realm of health and fitness because we get so focused on other things like which spin class burns the most calories or which activities keep our heart and bones in top shape. Yet, we bypass one of the top level players in the global picture of health…sleep!
We treat sleep like it’s a negotiable commodity, though and we bargain our way out of it in lieu of other activities.
It’s common knowledge that we need sleep to rest and recover. But, sleep (or the lack thereof) seriously affects our hormones, which affect appetite. Yikes! Introducing Leptin and Ghrelin. Get to know these two a little better and you might just prefer to DVR your favorite show and hit the sack early instead. And, because I’m sure you don’t want to read a scholarly article, here’s the quick scoop:
- Decreases appetite
- Remember it like L=Lowers appetite
- When you’re sleep deprived, Leptin levels take a nose dive.
- Increases appetite
- I think of the G sounding like=Grrrrowling stomach
- When you’re sleep deprived, Ghrelin levels rise
Long story short, when you don’t get enough sleep expect your appetite to be the constant nagging sensation that keeps dragging you back to the kitchen. Get plenty of deep, restorative sleep and Bingo! healthy food choices magically get a whole lot easier!
For a lot of people, sleep isn’t as easy as turning off the lights and closing your eyes, though. In fact, there are millions of us who have some form of insomnia or sleep disorder, including my husband. So, I know first hand how difficult it can be sometimes to get the sleep we need, regardless of how badly we want it.
Over the years I’ve compiled a list of sleep essentials that have worked really well in our household. I am a little obsessive with my sleep. But, after a full 8 hours most nights, I’ve determined it’s worth the effort!
- Number 1 has to be black-out curtains to make your room pitch black. They don’t have to be expensive. I’ve found a great set through Target in the past for under $30!
- Get your room temperature to 68 degrees or lower, depending on where you prefer your temp set. But, experts say 68 is optimal.
And, check out these goodies…
This melatonin is one of the best I’ve found. It’s a very low dose of the natural sleep aid which I prefer since some people (myself included) have really active dreams with the higher doses. If you want to read more on Melatonin, Dr. Weil has great information on his page.
I can’t say enough about investing in the right pillow. It’s such an individual thing, so no one can really tell you which pillow is the best for you. But, after my car accident in 2003 in which my little 2-door econo-car was sent flying across 2 lanes of traffic, my neck has never been quite the same. For that reason I went to a specialty store and picked up the best pillow of all time for a hundred bucks and I am holding onto that thing until it falls apart! Neck pain has never kept me awake since. Mine is from Carpenter Co.
The same, of course, goes for bedding. It’s worth investing in good quality sheets and comforters made from natural materials that breathe such as cotton. I also use a mattress topper which can turn almost any cheap mattress into a whole new bed.
There are also 2 apps that I absolutely love. One is a white noise app. White noise ( I love ocean sounds) prevents me from waking up from subtle sounds in the house. There are lots of options online. But, the one I have is called sounds of nature, similar to this one from iTunes. I’ve downloaded it onto my tablet which sits by my bed.
I also use a special app called progressive alarm clock. It’s a gentle alarm that makes waking up a whole lot easier than being jolted off the bed by an obnoxious buzzer. It’s $1.99 from iTunes and worth every penny!