Sleep is one of the most important things our bodies rely on and yet so many of us struggle to get the sleep we need. Most of us are unaware of just how damaging sleep deprivation can be for our health. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation actually triggers a damaging cycle of hormone imbalance and even activates additional cravings that didn’t exist before. It is during these cycles of hormonal imbalance that our health begins to unravel. The scariest of all is just how quickly everything can come undone. For example, having just one bad night can push our bodies immediately out of balance and to the edge of a health crisis cliff.
The Power of Sleep
It is no secret that we all NEED sleep, it is without a doubt one of the most important aspects of a healthy way of life. When we deprive our bodies of the sleep they need to function at an optimal level we end up with a number of issues. Prolonged sleep deprivation can cause your body to work overtime which lowers the amount of energy and resources it has to fight off illness. Not only does it weaken your immune system by overworking your body, but it also increases your risk of depression. Sleep deprivation can increase stress and anxiety which can often lead to extreme depression. Stress is another big killer of your body’s immune system. Excess Cortisol levels force your body into a constant state of alert which only furthers the cycle of sleep deprivation.
Do We Really Need Sleep?
Our bodies use the downtime of our sleep cycles to store and build up energy. Just because you are not moving does not mean you are not active during sleep. Your body is constantly breaking things down and building them back up bigger and better. When we take away this regenerative timeframe from our bodies they have to look for alternative sources of energy to make up the difference. Now, this is where we start to see just how much of a role sleep plays in our weight. When we deprive ourselves of sleep our bodies are unable to create extra energy. As a by-product, we crave high-calorie foods especially sweets, oily, and fatty foods. Unfortunately, these foods are not high in nutrients so our bodies constantly tell us to eat even more food. Thus, creating an endless cycle of overeating while still being under nutrients.
Break The Cycle
So, how do we break the cycle? At the end of the day, the answer seems simple enough, get more sleep. But what about the individuals who struggle to fall and stay asleep. For some of us, sleep is a luxury that we rarely get to enjoy. What about new parents who are desperately struggling to get at least two hours a night? Don’t worry, there are options. Because sleep is so critical for our health and well being there have been countless studies on how to improve the quality and quantity of our sleep. You don’t need to read through the millions of options. I am going to break down some of the best and most effective ways to improve your sleep and keep those pesky pounds off.
The brain is a busy organ, sometimes especially before you go to sleep. We all have experienced it: we are stressed or overworked and at the end of the day, the only thing you see is your bed, but your mind refuses to shut off. Instead, it’s on a loop of everything that happened that day and everything you will have to do tomorrow.
Yoga might be your fix
One of the benefits of Yoga is that it stimulates the nervous system and increases blood circulation to the brain, specifically the part responsible for inducing sleep. It helps reduce insomnia and promotes more regular rest. Yoga is also useful for detoxifying your mind and body. The increased oxygen intake during yoga also aids in the revascularization and regeneration of body cells. According to research,
“For every minute you spend in yoga, your sleep requirement reduces by one minute.”
According to another study conducted in the USA,
“55% of people who performed yoga had a better sleep and 85% of people performing yoga experienced stress reduction.”
Here are a few yoga tips and poses that promote sound sleep:
Yoga implements a gentle breath referred to as the “ocean breath.” This is slow and deliberate, breathing in through your nose and breathing out through your mouth.
2. Wide knee child’s pose:
Sit back on your legs and bring your toes together. Separate your knees and hips apart. Exhale and, at the same time, lower your torso onto your thighs. Let your hands relax alongside your torso, with your arms on the floor and pointed to the back of the room, palms facing up. This releases shoulder and back stress by separating your shoulder blades away from each other.
3. Legs up the wall:
Find an empty wall and place your yoga mat at a right angle to the wall and in contact with the wall. Lie back on the floor and place your legs up the wall. Meanwhile, relax your arms by your sides.
4. The final resting pose, or “corpse pose,”:
Lie back on the floor, relaxing all your limbs. Inhale and bring your knees in towards your chest. As you exhale, stretch your legs out away from your torso and rest them back on the floor. Your hips should be apart and relaxed, legs and toes turned out. Let your lower back comfort with your palms facing up.
Any one of these poses, with the slow ocean breathing, will relax your body, release tension, and calm your mind. Focus on inhaling your breath into every cell of your body and exhaling out any lousycup energy or stress. Try one or more before bed tonight, and experience better sleep.
Create A Habit
Have you ever noticed that the first two weeks of a new routine are often the hardest? That’s because it takes our brains 21 days to form a habit. Once this habit is in place we are more likely to continue it with ease. If you are looking to establish healthy habits that can improve your health and sleep you may want to add in meditation, exercise, and nutritional ones as well. Meditation is a great way to help your brain slow down before bed to ensure a restful night’s sleep. Exercise comes with a number of health benefits such as improved circulation which can result in a deeper night’s sleep. Nutrition is beneficial in a number of ways. What we eat directly determines what our bodies can make. If you are having trouble sleeping you will want to increase your Melatonin levels and a great way to do just that is with foods high in tryptophan.
Whose Side Are You On?
Did you know that how you sleep can also affect your sleep quality and quantity? Turns out that if you struggle to fall asleep you may want to start sleeping on your right side. Studies have shown that people fall asleep faster when they lay on their right side, unless they suffer from acid reflux. If you are someone who gets chronic heartburn you may want to take a look at your nutrition and sleep on your left side. By sleeping on your left side you actually cut off the flow of acid from leaving your stomach and going up your esophagus. For a deeper night’s sleep, you may want to try sleeping on your back. You should avoid sleeping on your front as it can cause excess pressure on your organs. No matter which options you choose to help you snooze give your body the rest it needs.
Pineapple Chicken Coconut Lime Rice
Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Serves 4
- 1 1/2 Pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- 1 tsp Dried Thyme
- 1/8 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1/4 Cup Honey Dijon Mustard
- 1 Pineapple Cubed
- 8 Ounce Pineapple Juice
- 1/4 Cup Honey (local)
- 2 Garlic Cloves Minced
- 1 Tbsp Cornstarch
- 1 1/2 Cups Uncooked Jasmine Rice
- 14 Ounce Coconut Milk
- 1 Cup Water
- 1/4 Cup Lime Juice
- 1 tsp Coconut Sugar
- A Pinch Sea Salt
Season the chicken with thyme, salt, and pepper; brown the chicken in coconut oil over medium heat. Combine two ounces of pineapple juice with cornstarch and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining liquid with mustard, honey, and garlic. Add mustard mixture to the pan, reduce heat, and cover.
Allow to simmer for 15 minutes and remove the chicken from the pan. Next, stir in the slurry mixture and bring to a boil for two minutes while stirring. Reduce heat and return chicken to pan, flipping it to ensure even coating. Add pineapple cubes and cover for 3-5 minutes. Serve over coconut rice.
To make coconut rice combine all wet ingredients into a pot over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves and add in rice. Let rice cook covered at medium heat for 18-20 minutes until tender. Top with lime zest and green onions.
Cinnamon Brown Sugar Peach Icecream
Gluten-Free Vegan Serves 6
- 2 Cups Coconut Milk Full Fat
- 1 Cup Coconut Cream
- 2/3 Cup Coconut Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 2 Bananas Chopped and Frozen
- 1 tsp Pure Vanilla
- 1/2 Cup Cinnamon Chips
- 1 Pinch Sea Salt
Place all ingredients into a blender except the cinnamon chips. Blend until smooth and pour into an airtight container. Gently fold in the chips and place into the refrigerator for 3 hours to set. Remove from the fridge and mix, then pop into the freezer until ready to use.
Need A Hand?
A happy and healthy life is closer than you may think. We all have to deal with our health daily, and when we don’t feel our best, it shows. If you are tired of just making it through your day, you NEED to start investing in your health today! You are not alone on this journey. If you ever need any help, I am always here to do just that. Even if it is something as small as acting as a sounding board, do you have any questions or concerns I can help you with? Feel free to contact me directly at [email protected], or you can even book a one-on-one call with me. Be sure to subscribe to gain access to tons of free goodies and check back daily for more great recipes and information!