Sleep plays a crucial role in our overall health and well-being, and it is especially critical when it comes to nutrition.
As dietitians, we work with our clients in many ways to help them achieve their health and nutrition goals.
In this work together, we look at many ways to help our clients, and in almost all cases, the discussion comes to one area that so many people overlook as something that can help improve your health.
When we get enough sleep, it helps our bodies in many ways: regulating appetite, aiding digestion, improving metabolism, and enhancing cognitive function. All of this means that sleep can help maintain a healthy diet and improve our overall nutrition – especially for folks that are in recovery too.
Getting adequate sleep means our bodies are better equipped to make food choices and decisions that work toward our nutrition goals, not against them.
In case it is not clear… I am saying that not getting enough sleep can lead to binge eating, emotional eating and restricting food too. All those habits that work against your recovery and achieving your nutrition and health goals.
Lack of sleep affects so many areas of our lives. This is why we often work on this with clients to focus on prioritizing sleep as a part of their healthy lifestyle and recovery plan.
But, in today’s busy world, sleep is often something not many people get enough of, and that is why I want to share with you some steps to help you get more sleep and a better sleep too!
According to Sleep Foundation, more than 1/3 of adults in the US get less than 7 hours of sleep each night, and almost 50% of workers say they are regularly tired during their work day – and that number jumps when the work day is done.
We are all tired and need more sleep.
There are many reasons why people have difficulty sleeping well.
Common causes include stress, anxiety, depression, poor sleep hygiene, irregular sleep schedules, diet and lifestyle habits, certain medications, and medical conditions such as chronic pain or sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea.
Factors such as shift work or exposure to bright screens late at night can also disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep.
But you can change your current sleep habits … and here are 7 steps to get more sleep:
- Set a consistent bedtime and wake time: Establishing a regular sleep schedule can help regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
- Create a bedtime routine: A relaxing way can signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Some ideas include reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing deep breathing or other relaxation techniques.
- Make your sleeping environment comfortable: Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, and use a comfortable mattress and pillows. Consider using a white noise machine or earplugs to block out any external noise that may disrupt your sleep.
- Avoid stimulating activities before bed: Avoid activities that may stimulate your mind or body, such as watching TV, using electronic devices, or exercising, for at least an hour before bed.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption: Caffeine and alcohol are both stimulants that can interfere with sleep. Avoid consuming them, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime.
- Get regular exercise: Regular movement and physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Just be sure to finish your movement activity a few hours before bed, as exercising too close to bedtime can disrupt sleep.
- Practice relaxation techniques: These include deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation, which can help calm your mind and body, making it easier to fall asleep. Try incorporating these techniques into your bedtime routine to help you relax and prepare for sleep.
Changing your habits takes time.
The solution is rarely an overnight success, so remember this as you put these 7 steps into play in your life. Try adding one new step at a time and then adding another and another.
By the time you’ve introduced all these habit changes and they have become habits that you practice daily, not only will you be getting more sleep, but you will also see that boost in your overall health because that sleep is so important to many areas of your health and well-being.
If you are working on your eating disorder recovery or even getting off the diet roller coaster and know that your sleep habits are not ideal and could be working against you, then reach out and talk to us. We are here to support you on this journey.
Book a quick call with me, and we can determine what help you need and who is the best person on our team to get you there!
Remember, we are in network with Cigna, Aetna and Oxford Health plans, which means our services may be covered by your health plan.
Not quite ready to work with a dietitian? We have several free resources that can help you with your nutrition goals. Check them all out here.
Erica Leon is a Registered Dietitian and practices from a Health at Every Size (HAES®) lens. She is certified as an eating disorder specialist and is passionate about helping women at midlife, menopause and beyond to make peace with food and body image.
Erica is a highly sensitive nutrition therapist who takes the time to learn where you or your family are in the pursuit of health. Respectful of your individual needs and lifestyle, she will provide an honest assessment of whether or not you are a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a 15-minute Discovery Call with Erica to let us know about your needs, and to see which of our Dietitians is the best fit for you!
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