Sleep is Everything
One of the most shocking things that new parents typically experience is not usually the amount of clothes their little bundle of joy soils everyday (though that is always a surprise) , but how much sleep they miss out on. A friend of mine posted on facebook after their first new born, "All of you parents lied to the world".
I've also seen this sleep depravation in the bodies of athletes and other people that I massage. They get up at 4 am to work out for 2 hours, work a full stressful day, maybe even come home to kids, and then get to bed by 11. They function on 5-6 hours of sleep when their body needs 8 or 9.
I've seen it with those in the middle of health problems, Chronic Pain, Autoimmune Diseases, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue, . Their bodies are under stress, and their sleep schedule is off. They either can't fall asleep, can't stay asleep, or can't wake up in the morning (or all of the above).
Sleep is when we heal, when we recover, and when we recharge. Sleep is when your immune system kicks in; when you produce the most HGH (human growth hormone) to heal your body; and when you do a "brain dump" and process what happened that day. Figuring out healthy sleep is VITAL for this program. Many adults walk around like zombies and think that it just comes with the territory. But that is a lie. We are capable of feeling rested, healthy and happy.
One of the best sources for learning about your sleep cycle comes from James L. Wilson, and he talks about the effects of inadequate sleep.
"Lack of sleep can be a significant body burden in in itself... Every time the wake/sleep cycle is altered, it takes several days to weeks for the body and cortisol levels to adjust. In fact, sleep ranks with diet and regular exercise as an essential component of a healthy life. People on alternating shifts with less than three weeks between shift changes are continually hammering their adrenal glands and may become very susceptible to adrenal fatigue.
Chronic lack of sleep is now regarded as a health hazard and has been associated with several possible health consequences. These include lowered immunity with increased susceptibility to infections, impaired glucose tolerance, low morning cortisol levels, and increased carbohydrate cravings. Lack of sleep can also elevate circulating estrogen levels, upset hormonal balance, and slow healing and prolong the recovery period. These are in addition to the decreased alertness and concentration that most people experience when missing an inordinate amount of sleep."
There are ways to know if you aren't sleeping well
The main symptom of ongoing sleep loss is excessive daytime sleepiness, but other symptoms include:
difficulty learning new concepts.
inability to concentrate or a "fuzzy" head
lack of recovery from workouts
auto-immune disease flare ups
inability to lose weight
waking at 2-3 am in the morning everyday
waking up feeling like you didn't sleep at all
falling asleep anytime you sit down
feeling dangerously sleepy in the car
PUT IT INTO ACTION
Ok you get it - you need sleep. This week, this is going to be your focus. But there are a few hacks to getting the best sleep ever that you can use.
1. Go to Sleep at the Same Time - Some research has shown that the earlier the better for nighttime sleep time, but new research shows that it's actually more depending on your individual circadian rhythm. Our rhythm actually depends on our genetics, so if you feel good going to bed at 8 or even 12, you may be the type of person that needs that different bed time. About 50% of the population feels the best going to sleep by 11, and then waking 7-9 hours later. Being consistent is proving to be more important than anything. If you want to geek out on an awesome sleep article by a pretty amazing and knowledgeable trainer -Ben Greenfield- here ya go.
If you do shift work into the night, it is definitely time to reevaluate and decide if its worth the hit your health is taking. Just one night of missed sleep can throw you off. When you are constantly demanding that your body change gears, it can cause changes that will take years to undo.
2. Get Between 7-9 Hours of sleep. If you are the person that says that can live on fewer hours of sleep, you are either lying to yourself, or you just don't realize yet what it is doing to you. There is a very tiny part of the population that actually can function on less sleep, but if your health has been in the toilet, this probably isn't you.
Getting too much sleep can actually cause problems as well, so that 7-9 hours is your sweet spot.
3.. Does the Early Bird Really Get the worm? Not necessarily. Individual circadian rhythm is important, but for those of you who have health issues, getting up before 6 am can have the potential to make it worse. In fact, 7 am or later is really ideal. If you have an autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue, chronic depression, reoccuring injuries, a nursing or pregnant mother or parent of a baby, or you have some condition that requires your body to have extra healing time, I want you to make sure that you are not waking up too early either. If possible, try to sleep in til at least 7 or 8. Ideally you need 2 x 4 hour cycles of sleep to recover from the previous day.
Our bodies love habit, so getting up at the same time will push you in the right direction. If possible, go out in the sun for a 5 min to stimulate your waking hormones right when you wake up.
4. Turn off those devices - This is prob not new to you, but you need to make sure that you are not looking at blue light from screens after 7pm. These babies will totally mess with your hormones, and one look at a screen can suppress melatonin (sleep hormone) for the next hour or so. The best solution is to get blue light blocking glasses that are around $15 on amazon and wear them in the evenings. Then the screen won't be near as harmful and can give your eyes a break.
Now if you wake up still feeling exhausted, I want you to just keep doing this. A lot of times if your circadian rhythm is off, and you need to give it time to readjust. The rest of my program addresses those hormone imbalances but the best thing you can do is try the best you can.
If you can’t fall asleep, here are a list of things that can help. If they are still not doing the trick, go to your doctor and talk to him about what you can take to help you nod off to dreamland. Getting Sleep is a non negotiable in this program. In order to heal, lose weight, reduce pain and injury, you MUST give yourself this sleep -
-take a warm epsom salt bath
-eliminate screens after 7pm
-use melatonin when needed
-take cod liver oil before bed
-take cbd oil before bed
-remove all sources of light from room - no tv in room
-use a night mask - it can be comforting and will eliminate all light
-get at least 20 min of sunlight a day
-use sleep hypnosis music (you can buy off amazon)
-use white noise machine or a fan
-use blue light eliminating glasses
-avoid eating sugar after 5
-avoid caffeine after 3
-have sex (for some)
-go outside right when you wake in the morning
-try to keep a consistent schedule- your circadian rhythm is a rhythm -it likes patterns
-write down your to-do list before bed
-switch exercise time to 4-5 pm instead of morning
-use deep breathing exercises right before sleeping
Once again, I'm going to paraphrase Greenfield's article on napping when he says that the ideal time is between 20-60 minutes, and the best time to nap is 8 hours after wake time. Avoid Caffeine and exercise right before, and try to it at the same time everyday. Naps are great if you can make them happen. If you can't then don't worry about it as long as you are getting enough sleep at night.
You can also take this quiz to find out what your ideal sleep time is. I'm considered a bear like 50% of the population that goes to bed at 10 or 11 and wakes at 6 or 7.
When sleep doesn't help
James L. Wilson
My fellow Chronic Fatigue sufferers need further guidance here as well. We are in a unique situation where our fatigue isn't caused by lack of sleep, though it can further exasperate it. Our fatigue comes from our brain and our nervous system. Our body has decided that we need to function at a lower level as a protective mechanism. At one point, our bodies were pushed to the limit with stress, trauma, illness, overexercise, or some other event, and our body is trying to keep us out of danger. We aren't in danger anymore, and we have to teach our nervous system little by little that movement is ok.
There is a standard treatment out there used by many doctors called GET or Graded Exercise Theory for people with CFS, but I'm here to tell you that it is incomplete. When specialists push patients to do more and more movement WITHOUT any sort of fascial manipulation, they are setting the patient up for failure. We will address this more in the chapter, Fascia, Fascia, Fascia, but guys, it really does work.