Sleeping Beauty had a problem. She couldn’t wake up unless a handsome prince kissed her. She had been cursed by the wicked witch. Do you feel this way – cursed because you have trouble waking up in the mornings? Experts tell us that 40% of the American population has sleep deprivation. That’s quite a few of us who don’t get enough sleep for whatever reason. Getting less than seven hours of sleep a night is considered to be sleep deprived. There are many consequences of having little sleep. One of the troubles associated with lack of sleep is the sensitivity to insulin. There is a greater risk of having type 2 diabetes when sleep eludes us. Conversely, if you have type 2 diabetes, insomnia is one of the consequences of the disease.1
Hormones play a major role in our overall health. Cortisol, adrenal, insulin, thyroid, etc. hormones play a key role in our sleep cycle. The key to health is balance. All the hormones should work together. It’s really a brain thing. Hormonal imbalances impact brain inflammation, which in turn affects gut health, which in turns affects everything – it’s a vicious cycle. Insulin especially impacts the brain’s chemistry. After all, glucose is the fuel source for the brain. The brain is 60% fat; so good fats are essential for brain health. And the so called evil cholesterol – it too is needed for a healthy brain. The brain contains about 25% of the cholesterol in our bodies.2
I have a confession to make: I love sugar. It’s my nemesis. I know when I eat just a little bit my sleep patterns will be disrupted. I have noticed this when I go on a sugar fast, and when I go back to eating it once again; my sleep patterns are definitely affected. This past week, I had a downfall. My cashew milk frozen treat was back on the shelf in the freezer section – and on sale. Needless to say, I let my taste buds decide my spending habits. After all, who can resist salted caramel? It’s one of the latest tricks of the food industry.
Since I purchased my treat, I have been eating a little bit every day. When I say a little bit, I mean two spoonfuls. And even this small amount affects my sleep patterns. Every morning over this last week, I have woken up at 5:30 in the morning. This is not good! I need my sleep. But what’s interesting though, I don’t get tired in the afternoon. I don’t crash and burn like expected. However, I can’t continue down this path. It’s a treat and should be kept at treat status. Even though it’s in the freezer, that doesn’t mean I need to indulge every day. Can you say discipline?
In order for my sleep to be corrected, I need to get back to doing what I know I need to do. Avoid sugar like the plague. Avoid the other foods that create the same pattern of bad habits. Get back to good bedtime habits of going to bed at the same time every night. Powering down the stimulating nighttime activities; like watching television shows or movies or reading Adrenalin-inducing material before bedtime. Eating the right things for brain health – healthy fats, good slow carbs and clean protein sources. These are the things that will help take the right steps to a healthy body. Reducing stress is also essential! We all have something we enjoy doing, and we have to make the time to do those things that will put is in a good position to living well.
Good sleep doesn’t have to be a fairy tale, it can be done. If we can get this sleep thing right, then we could be taking greater steps to a healthier life. Sleep helps our brain function which in turn helps our body work better. When the brain is happy, the whole body is happy! Taking steps to better health can be as simple as making a few adjustments in our diet and in our lifestyle that will make a dramatic difference in how we feel when we wake up in the morning. It’s possible and doable right now by taking the first step – whatever that first step maybe for each of us. One step at a time. Let’s do it together!