Why does sleep evade so many of us?

In our go-go-go society, we often trade high-quality sleep for squeezing in one more email, decompressing by watching our favorite shows after 8pm, drinking one glass of alcohol too many, and foregoing exercise to chill out on the couch instead.

Unfortunately, if we make a habit of doing these things “to relax,” we often jeopardize the quality of our sleep.

And if we take sleep aids, like Ambien or Benadryl, we’re actually not getting high-quality sleep even though we may feel as if we are “out like a light.”

Artificial sleep is not the same thing as natural sleep, and on average, adults require at least 7 to 9 hours of natural sleep a day, kids and teenagers even more.

Overnight, our bodies need to enter the “rest and digest” state, so they can properly eliminate waste, toxins, and mental clutter.

When we don’t sleep and we’re stressed out, our hormones get out of whack. And when our hormones get out of whack, we’re less likely to sleep well. This hormonal imbalance can create a vicious cycle leading to:

  • Increased appetite and fat storage
  • A weakened immune system
  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • Exhaustion, chronic fatigue, and brain fog
  • Insomnia

The key to restorative sleep is to make sleep a health priority.

Too many of us think we are super-human and can get by on less sleep than others. We’re kidding ourselves. By trying to squeeze in life, we’re actually doing the exact opposite.

Good sleep is as important to overall well-being as proper nutrition and regular exercise.

In our home, we take sleep seriously. Our teenagers are usually in bed before 10 pm, and I am too.

Ironically, the most knowledgeable person in our family about the importance of sleep is the one who has struggled with it the most.

Over the past several months, Carlos has been working hard on getting better sleep. As a medical resident, he had it hard-wired into his brain that he could get by on less sleep than most. Now, he’s able to personally speak to the impact better sleep has had on his life.

Here are some steps Carlos has taken to significantly boost the quality of his sleep.

  • Agreed to see a therapist with his pesky wife 🙂
  • Reduced caffeine consumption to 2 cups of coffee before 11 am versus drinking 6 cups throughout the day
  • Reduced alcohol consumption, often none on weeknights
  • Adjusted his exercise routine- too much can be as damaging as too little
  • Added a few minutes of daily meditation and deep breathing
  • Established a regular sleep schedule

If sleep is evading you, we’re here to help. We’re all different, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Please email me at nathalie@companionhealthnc.com if you’d like to schedule a free 15-minute health history consultation.

Nathalie is a UNC-Chapel Hill MBA, serial entrepreneur, and health coach with a passion for healthy home cooking, organic gardening, and balanced living.