How to Get a Good Night of Paleo Sleep
FACT: Sleep is as important as diet, and it’s far unhealthier to skip sleep than it is to skip a meal.
But we all still do it. A few late nights here and there – ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’, as the saying goes.
The problem is, sleep deprivation is detrimental to your health, and without wanting to scare you too much, is a contributing factor to potentially fatal conditions such as heart disease and cancer.
If you are skimping on sleep, consider the following health risks
1. Cardiovascular Health Risk Lack of sleep can affect cardiovascular health. Serious sleep deprivation has been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels and irregular heartbeat.
2. Poor Immunity Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of killer cells that fight off immunity. Although it hasn’t been entirely proven, it is thought that sleep may help fight cancer.
3. Weight Gain Sleep deprivation affects the way the body stores and produces carbohydrates. This alters hormone activity, affecting appetite and causing us to crave more food.
4. Mood As we have all experienced, lack of sleep affects mood. Tiredness makes us irritable and impatient and impairs concentration and focus. This means we can’t do the things we normally enjoy doing to our full potential. Stay in this zone for too long and we become unhappy and demoralized, which subsequently impacts every aspect of our lives, including relationships, work, exercise and eating habits.
5. Accidents Those with a sleep debt are more likely to have car accidents and accidents in general. You are also more likely to make a mistake at work, which could be very serious if you are a doctor, pilot, driver or machinery operator.
Try the following to get a better night’s sleep:
* Go to bed before 11pm. You’ll get a more restorative sleep during the hours of darkness.
* If you can, wake with the sun each morning. The body’s natural sleep-wake cycle is regulated by darkness and light, and is therefore at its healthiest when in tune with Mother Nature.
* Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and sugar in the afternoon and evening.
* Stop eating three hours before you attempt to sleep. You will find it much harder to sleep properly if the body is still digesting.
* Turn off your computer at least two hours before you go to sleep. Science has recently coined the term “LCD insomnia” for those who stimulate the brain with digital devices prior to going to bed and then are unable to sleep.
* Make sure you exercise every day, even if it’s just a brisk 15-20 minute walk. The more worn out you are the better you’ll sleep. However, stop exercising at least two hours before you sleep.
* Avoid any kind of stress before bed, including heavy conversation or work-related tasks. Give your mind time to settle down into a calm, balanced state – try light reading or listening to some relaxing music.