I like to live by the motto “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, but really that just means I don’t take naps or sleep past 7 am. In reality, I live for my 8 hours of sleep. A consistent good night’s sleep is imperative; if you don’t get enough, you could be shortening your life span. Healthy sleep habits are crucial for not just being able to function the next day, but for immunity, brain function, metabolism, and overall health. While motherhood tends to make sleep a hot commodity, one that is often times out of reach, there are some things that you can control to get some more slumber.
Cut the caffeine. Okay, before you write me off, hear me out. If you struggle with insomnia or issues falling asleep or staying asleep, I urge you to consider cutting back on caffeine temporarily to see if you notice a difference. Even if you only have a cup of coffee in the morning, it can still cause havoc to your wake-sleep cycle. And if you need an afternoon pick me up, try some fresh squeezed lemon water.
Take a probiotic. Our guts are phenomenal and are responsible for nutrient absorption, immune responses, as well as sleep patterns. By taking care of it and feeding it healthy bacteria (probiotics), we are leading the way towards better sleep. Foods such as Kombucha, kefir, miso, and sauerkraut are also good sources of good bacteria.
Make sleep a priority. While your gut helps you sleep, sleep can also help your gut. Research shows that the good bacteria that lives in your gut can change with poor sleep habits. This can lead to worse sleep as those bacteria are useful in promoting good sleep rhythms. In Layman’s terms, it’s a vicious cycle that can be improved by, you guessed it, sleep.
Furthermore, sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain because your hormones are legitimately out of whack. This hormonal shift increases your appetite as well as sugary cravings, thus leading to overeating, a slowed metabolism, and lo and behold, an unhappy gut.
Make dinner your smallest meal. This one is the hardest for me. Dinner is where we all sit down and talk about our day. It’s the meal I actually get to look forward to and savor. So, if you’re calling me crazy, I get it. However, breakfast or lunch is when your digestive system is most active and should be where bigger meals are eaten, especially if you find yourself to be a troubled sleeper. If you don’t sleep well (baby waking you up aside), consider having a large lunch and keeping dinner to a minimum.
Close the kitchen by 7 pm. You know how everyone these days is talking about fasting? Well, the most efficient and possibly “healthiest” way to fast is while you sleep. Your gut needs to sleep just like you do.
Eat a well-rounded diet. Especially one filled with lots of fruits and vegetables. You already know fruits and veggies are filled with vitamins and fiber, but did you know that vitamin deficiency has been found in those with sleep disorders? Or that fiber has been found to keep people asleep longer, while keeping them less tired during the daytime? Filling your day with
Nix the sugar. Sugar highs are real, and so are the lows. If added sugar is a part of your daily routine, it is most definitely affecting your sleep. Alcohol has similar results so if you are struggling to get shut-eye, you may want to take a hiatus from your evening glass of wine.
If your biggest problem with sleep isn’t a you-problem, but more of a baby, toddler, 12 year old-problem, don’t stress. There will be a day that you take charge of your Zzzz’s again, just keep in mind that sleep is important and if you can do something to control the chaos to get yourself more sleep, do it. It will keep you happier, healthier, and living longer.