Updated: Aug 9, 2019
If you’re feeling tired, you are NOT alone!
Did you know that we’re getting less sleep than ever?
Almost 60 years ago, a survey of more than 1 million people found that most people got 8 to 9 hours of sleep every night.
By 2000, that number dropped to about 7 hours a night and now almost 20 years later, sleep experts say we’re sleeping even less with many of us only 5 to 6 hours a night!
That’s a serious drop in a short period of time don't you think?
It's not surprising that energy drinks and drinking copious amounts of coffee are so popular, right?
However, “powering through” on too little sleep is not a good idea for the long-term health of your body.
The fact is, you don’t have to wait to feel the impact of too little sleep on your hormones. You might be feeling it already today!
Sleep is so important to your well-being, and not getting enough of it can impact your health far beyond just feeling tired and lethargic!
Lack of proper sleep can affect your heart, your waistline, your brain, and your level of focus and productivity.
I want to talk to you about how sleep affects your hormones and this is important if any of the following apply. You are struggling to loose weight, your libido has taken or a nose dive or you feel constantly stressed and tired!
There are two major hormone “pathways” that take a big hit when you don’t get enough sleep, including hormones that handle things like your stress, sex drive, hunger, and blood sugar and (ironically enough) even your ability to fall asleep!
It only takes a night or two for them to get out of balance.
One pathway is governed by your pituitary gland and the other is your autonomic nervous system. Both are intertwined, and they have a hand in virtually every function of your body.
Keeping your hormones in balance is a huge part of feeling focused, strong, and ernergised.
Let’s have a closer look:
Hunger: When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases two important hormones that affect your appetite; Ghrelin and Leptin.
Ghrelin is your hunger hormone, which tells you to eat. Leptin is your “I’m full” hormone, which signals when to stop eating. Having disrupted sleep can throw these out of whack, leading you to feel hungry and stay hungry, even after you have eaten!
On top of that, when you eat your blood sugar levels can spike, causing your body to release insulin (another hormone) to help offset it, followed by a rapid decrease in blood sugar that can make you feel hungry again.
As you can imagine, this can cause a vicious circle effect, leading to weight gain and a long list of related health problems (g.g. leptin resistance, insulin resistance, metabolic disorders, etc.).
Stress: A lack of sleep can cause stress – and stress can cause lack of sleep! The two go hand-in-hand.
When you’re stressed, your “fight or flight” hormones like adrenaline and cortisol can rise and lower (also affecting your blood sugar and insulin levels, see above!), making it hard to sleep or wind down.
Over time your cortisol levels which normally rise in the morning to help get you going, and lower at night to help you sleep can get turned around, throwing your sleep cycle off.
Libido: Being sleep deprived for one week can cut your testosterone levels (yes, us women have testosterone). This can have a pretty big impact on your sex drive, making you feel less “in the mood,” less often!
All of that adds up to have a pretty big impact on your quality of life.
Your sleep greatly impacts your health, how you recover from strenuous activity or illness, your ability to focus, and even your waistline.
It can be tempting to think of sleeping as wasted time, but it’s actually the opposite.
Every minute that you’re sleeping, your body is performing an important function; whether it is to help you relax, restore your body, or refresh your mind.
Sleep is when your body recovers, restores and recharges for the coming day, helping you to live your best life!
Now you know more about how a lack of sleep affects your health, how can we make sure we get enough?
One off the things that has helped me the most in terms of falling asleep and staying asleep is having a nighttime routine.
Create your own nighttime routine!
Our bodies love schedules and routines.
It is hard wired into us and in fact, our bodies have their own 24 hour internal clock called circadian rhythms which basically means our hormones and bodily functions respond to day and nighttime cycles.
Creating a bedtime routine that you follow every night will help set up clues to your body clock and mind that it is time to go to sleep.
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day (including the weekends) to help regulate your body’s internal clocks.
Make it part of your routine to switch off electronics at least an hour before you go to bed (preferably more) so there is no white light in your eyes as this messes with your circadian rhythm by tricking the body into still thinking it is daylight.
Here’s are some suggestions to incorporate into nightly routine.
Read a book or magazine
Take a warm bath adding in some relaxing essential oils
Journal your wins for the day or write down 3 things you are grateful for
Put pen to paper to brain dump any stresses or worries you have
Practice some simple yoga stretches (this is my favorite to do every night as it releases both physical and mental tension)
You wouldn't pick a child straight up from an activity and put them into bed expecting them to be able to fall asleep and we are no different.
Taking the time to unwind will help you sleep better which will help you stress less, eat better and live well.
Before you go: If you enjoyed these tips, I'm sure you will love my free Facebook group called Everyday Wellness for Women which promotes manageable and sustainable tips for healthier living.
In this group you will find support and access to mini weekly challenges, free recipes, stress-busting techniques, along with ways to improve your sleep, energy, moods and much more.
Click right here to join my free group today.