FIVE-DAY OIL CAMP - THE ESSENTIALISTS FOUNDATIONS

Day 2 - SLEEP

AMY BOYD

How Sleep Deprivation Affects You?

There are many complex factors involved in the relationship between sleep and health. While it may be more difficult to scientifically prove that quality sleep improves health, the negative effects of sleep deprivation are widely documented.

You’re more likely to gain weight. Leptin, your satiety hormone, is significantly reduced when you are sleep deprived. Since leptin plays an important role in appetite control and metabolism, having low levels of this hormone results in hunger not being naturally suppressed. Therefore your appetite and cravings increase. 

You are at higher risk for illness.

Your body is more susceptible to stress without a good night’s sleep. The immune system does not function optimally, and inflammatory proteins and blood sugar levels rise in response to lower levels of insulin being released throughout the night. All of these negative effects on the body contribute to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and infection.

Your risk of injury increases.

When you are exhausted, both physically and mentally, there is an increased risk of injury, errors, and accidents. This tired state of mind may lead to mishaps like stubbing your toe, cutting yourself in the kitchen, or getting into a car accident. 

Your brain does not function optimally.

There are measurable changes in brain activity that occur after a period of sleep deprivation. When you do not get a sufficient amount of sleep, your mental performance suffers, impairing your ability to process new information and memories and impacting your overall mood, focus, and high-level cognitive function. 

You are more likely to struggle with your emotions.

Without sufficient rest, you may have trouble keeping your emotions in check. Increased feelings of irritability, anxiety, sadness, and anger are common. You may even find that you are more vulnerable to unprovoked bouts of laughter or tears.

How much sleep do you really need? 

Everyone requires quality sleep for optimal health and well-being, but the number of hours vary depending on individual and age group. Try experimenting with your sleep patterns to find out what works best for you and your specific needs. 

Preparing for Sleep

Achieving the ZZZZZZZZZs can be affected by what we eat (especially in the hours before bedtime). Certain foods are known to calm the brain and help promote sleep and others can create physical pain/ discomfort and lead to brain chatter and overstimulation. 
Eating the right things in the evening is definitely part of the recipe for a good night’s sleep!
Firstly, I don’t recommend eating a big meal just before bedtime as it can lead to discomfort and indigestion, however some people (including myself) find a small snack a helpful aid to sleep.
Research has found that certain nutrients play an underlying role in short and long sleep duration. For longer and better quality sleep it’s important to have lycopene (found in red and orange-coloured foods), carbohydrates, vitamin C, selenium (found in nuts, meat and shellfish), and more lutein/zeaxanthin (found in green, leafy vegetables that are rich in stress reducing calcium).
I know you balked at the word 'carbohydrates'... but carbs at night make me fat??? Well yes and no. Processed junk food will feed your fatty stores, however >>> Clean carbs not No Carbs!
Carbohydrates like kumara (sweet potato), potatoes, pumpkin and other plant based carbs are an excellent aid in, not only fuelling your body during the day, but also calming down at night. The 'clean carbs' optimise tryptophan levels and help maintain a stable blood sugar level and switch the body from alert adrenaline cycle to rest-and-digest mode. Tryptophan is the amino acid that the body uses to make sleep-inducing serotonin and melatonin, the relaxing neurotransmitters that slow down nerve traffic and stop the brain buzzing. I'm all for that! 

Do Bananas help you sleep?Bananas are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium which help relax overstressed muscles and make them an ideal go-to snack before bed. They also contain all-important tryptophan to stimulate production of those key brain calming hormones. Eat whole or whizz into a sleep-inducing smoothie.

Other foods to help sleep. Almonds are another winner as they contain magnesium which promotes both sleep and muscle relaxation. They have the added benefit of supplying proteins which help maintain a stable blood sugar level while sleeping and switch the body from alert adrenaline cycle to rest-and-digest mode.Try swapping your evening snack to a handful of nuts and mix it up with a yummy evening 'Sleepy drink' (warm mylk, tsp honey & 1 drop of Lavender oil) for a comforting bedtime snack.
 Most fish – it contains vitamin B6 which again encourages production of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness. Chick peas similarly contain vitamin B6 and are again helpful in aiding restfulness. Team with green leafy vegetables (such as cabbage or spinach) which are also rich in stress reducing calcium.

Food to avoid before sleep.Avoid eating a big meal (especially spicy food) just before bedtime as it can lead to discomfort and indigestion. I also keep red meat for early dinners or lunch if practical. Red meat takes such a long time to digest and I find I get a better nights sleep after a light evening meal. I try and have dinner no later than 7pm.
Go easy on processed high carb (bread, pasta and rice) that cause energy crashes and fatty foods as the stimulated acid production in the stomach can lead to heartburn and indigestion. Remember that excess eating leaves you sleepy, but does not help with a good nights sleep.
 Even if you know to avoid coffee and strong tea, you might be sabotaging your sleep with sneakier sources of caffeine, like chocolate. Dark chocolate, in particular, can pack a significant punch. If you like to nibble on a square or two for dessert, you’ll probably be fine but an entire chocolate bar (or two!) could have just as much caffeine as a fizzy drink.
 While grapefruit seems a healthy option, avoid before bedtime. Citrus fruits increase the stomach’s acidity causing heartburn and keeping you up at night. Equally, limit stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine which reduce sleep quality and prevent you feeling rested.

Hi i'm Amy Boyd - I am an Integrative Health Coach, Mother and passionate Oils Coach. I am passionate about empowering families with natural tools to help them thrive physically and mentally.     

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