Why Sleep is Vital to Maintaining a Healthy Weight [and How to Get It!]

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Provided your experience with sleeping babies did not include things like colic, asthma or eczema, the photo above probably evokes a strong heartfelt desire to have an infant’s quality of sleep be your norm. Handling three simple factors properly can have you well on your way:

Environment: We can set the tone for our quality of sleep with key factors being degree of room darkness (the production of melatonin, a hormone that among other things controls our sleep/wake cycle is negatively impacted by light therefore you want your bedroom DARK!); temperature (while you don’t have to be freezing at night, cooler temperatures – 58-68˚F or 15-20˚C – facilitate better melatonin and human growth hormone production which in turn can promote deeper and longer sleep and better nighttime repair of cells); and use of EMF/blue-light emitting devices (give yourself 30-60 minutes of computer/iPhone/iPad free time before bed and, after that time, use either an old-fashioned paperback or the newer e-ink readers for bedtime reading).

Emotions: How our brain handles the emotional content of our day (or week!) is a factor in how quickly we fall asleep, whether we can easily fall back to sleep if we awake during the night, and how long we sleep. When possible take the time to bring a measure of resolution to stressful situations before bedtime. Have the conversation, make the apology, extend the forgiveness or agree to disagree and be at peace. If the circumstances are bigger picture then keep a notepad beside your bed. If “busy brain” begins happening, threatening to increase cortisol production and wakefulness, jot down the steps you need to take to deal with the issue in the morning. Likewise, if creativity strikes at 2:00am! Under a low light, write down a few succinct notes that will jog your memory the next day as to your brilliant song lyrics or invention!

Eating: There is a lot of conflicting information about how you should eat to enhance quality of sleep but there are some givens. Eat real food and, for the most part, avoid sugar and flour. Whole, unprocessed food, in body type appropriate amounts, provides optimal nutrition and blood sugar management that, in turn, makes deep, restorative sleep a possibility. While most people don’t necessarily need a bedtime snack, Protein Body Types may find they sleep better with a little protein and perhaps a bit of fruit before bed. With their generally faster metabolism, the protein can prevent rapid blood sugar drops in the night and the fruit can help the calming restorative amino acids in the protein cross the blood brain barrier.

And if you need extra help beyond those tips, feel free to try out a program some of us at In Balance are using/recommending: BrainTime. It’s an easy-to-use, patent pending method of helping your brain work better in general. You listen for five or ten minutes, twice a day to scientific sounds that guide your brain to, among other things, improved attention, sharper memory, greater ability to handle stress and, key to our conversation today, better sleep

At only $29USD/mth you and your whole household can use the program and see the positive results!

Eat Well, Sleep Well

As mentioned, for those that sleep better with a little snack before bed, the best option is usually a small amount of protein and a bit of fruit.

What could that look like? How about:

  • 1/2 an apple and a dollop of nut butter
  • a small orange and a chunk of Irish Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries on a 1/2 cup of organic plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup of cherries and a 1/4 cup of almonds

And be sure you aren’t just factoring in your bedtime snack when you are thinking eating for sleep. What we do all day counts as well.

Eat real food, eat it as close as possible to its original form AND eat the fuel mix (percentage of protein-rich foods, carbohydrate-rich food and healthy fats) on which your body is best designed to function.

That means a bit of protein and healthy fat and lots of vegetables most every time you eat, staying away from the foods that wreck havoc on blood sugar levels (for sure the refined sugars and flours and for most Protein Body Types minimizing even the more natural sugars and flours).

How does that translate into a real meal?

Let’s take a look at what I’m planning on having for supper, a great yet simple Pad Thai dish.

For Carbohydrate Body Types use a lighter protein such as chicken breast, shrimp (I know, they’re ocean filters but once in a while you can indulge!), or almonds. Protein Body Types will want to use beef, bison, lamb, salmon or darker poultry meat such as thighs or drumsticks for their protein.

For everyone, substitute palm sugar for the brown sugar and try to find a fruit-sweetened ketchup.

The recipe starts out pretty decent from the get go but a few tweaks will have you, regardless of body type, energized, clear and ready for a sound sleep come bedtime!

Zucchini Pad Thai

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