Congratulations! You have made it to week three of our Optimal Health Program. It is probably still quite difficult for you to live a life without sugar and vegetable oils. To say “no” to french fries, donuts, cakes, and cookies is quite hard, but by now it should be starting to become easier. You had to learn new recipes, and with some creativity, you most likely have learned to enjoy your vegetables, leaves, and nuts in a completely new way. That is providing your system with high-quality raw material for building a healthier body.
Last week you add some movement to your life. Now your exercise daily and that is signaling to your body to become more efficient and strong. It is triggering your body to get rid of bad cells and grow new healthier ones, by utilizing the high-quality material you have been providing as building blocks. You might feel like all this growth and repair takes place while you eat or exercise. Think again. Most of the repair and rebuilding inside your body happens in a much quieter time. While you sleep.
This week, we are going to focus on improving the quality of our sleep.
Why Do We Sleep
The human growth hormone (HGH) is an important part of the body’s endocrine system. The hormone is a protein produced by the pituitary gland in the brain and it is released into the bloodstream, to promote growth itself, including the build and repair of muscle, bone, and collagen, but it is also involved in regulating selective aspects of metabolic function including increasing fat metabolism and the maintenance of a healthier body composition. It is estimated that as much as 75 percent of the human growth hormone is released during sleep.
Even though the reason why we sleep is not very clear, one thing we know for sure. Sleep is essential for survival and most of all the building and repairing in our bodies seem to occur while we sleep.
How to improve sleep quality
Here are some of the recommendations given to improve the quality of your sleep that best worked for me:
- Stick to a sleep schedule
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try to limit the difference in your sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends to no more than one hour. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Try to do it without the help of an alarm to wake up.
If you don’t fall asleep within about 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing. Read or listen to soothing music or audiobooks. Go back to bed when you’re tired. Repeat as needed.
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink
Don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed. In particular, avoid heavy or large meals within a couple of hours of bedtime. Your discomfort might keep you up. Eat your carbs for the day two hours before sleep. The sugar will spike your insulin, which can induce sleep and that a snack before bedtime may help you prevent changes in blood sugar by providing an extra source of energy to help get you through the night.
Caffeine and alcohol deserve caution, too. The stimulating effects of caffeine take hours to wear off and can wreak havoc on quality sleep. And even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy, it can disrupt sleep later in the night.
- Create a restful environment
Create a room that’s ideal for sleeping. Often, this means cool, dark and quiet. Exposure to light might make it more challenging to fall asleep. Avoid prolonged use of light-emitting screens at least one hour before bedtime. Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.
Doing calming activities before bedtime, such as taking a bath, cold shower or using relaxation techniques can promote better sleep.
- Get Morning Sunlight
Light is a powerful guide for your body. In part through the connections between the eyes and the brain’s biological timekeeper, light rays influence chemistry and behavior and keep us in sync with the ebb and flow of the day. Supplement with Vitamin D (20.000 ugs) Magnesium, Zinc, and Potassium, especially in the period of the year when sunlight is scarce.
- Manage Stress
Try to resolve your worries or concerns before bedtime. Jot down what’s on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow. Stress management can help. Start with the basics, such as getting organized, setting priorities and delegating tasks. Meditation also can ease anxiety. Associate with people that help you to be relaxed, safe, positive, sharing the same goals, values, and priorities. Avoid friendship with those that make you feel bad, frustrated, and negative.
Below, some other things that help me manage stress.
- Go Minimalistic
Simplifying your lifestyle helps with anxiety and stress. Eliminating nonessentials (example: cable tv, club memberships, eating out, costly hobbies and expensive habits) helps you save money, minimize distractions, and help you prioritize and focus.
Learn how to cook. Learn how to train using bodyweight. Learn to grow your own food. Or learn a new skill that will make saving money making you stress less about it.
- Do Earthing
The earth carries a slight negative electrical charge. This is due to free electrons on its surface. When you come into conductive contact with the earth, by standing on it barefoot, this charge is transferred to your body.
In your body, these free electrons work as antioxidants. They neutralize harmful free radicals and reset your biological rhythms. This includes your sleep-wake cycle. Earthing allows you to naturally fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply and wake fewer times during the night. It does this by increasing your levels of melatonin while reducing your levels of cortisol.
- Go Minimalistic
With this information in mind, we want to make a few modifications to our daily routine.
THIRD WEEK (Daily routine)
06.30 Hydration: 2 glasses of water. (Sometimes with lemon to improve digestion and reduce blood sugar) Meditation: 15 – 30 minutes. (Identify 3 reasons why you are grateful.)
07.00 Coffee: One cup of coffee (without milk or use coconut milk instead).
07.30 Movement: Core, body weight, and mobility exercises or just go for a walk (10 – 30 minutes max.). *During the day KEEP MOVING! Every two hours do stretches and one set of your favorite movements (squat, push-up, burpees).
08.00 Breakfast: Two eggs, or half avocado with oats, or yogurt with red fruits. If you are not hungry skip breakfast.
12.00 Lunch: Big bowl of green leaves salad with feta cheese, onions, olive oil, nuts, tomatoes, and sardines. Or some steam vegetables with salmon (or other fatty fish).
15.00 Snack: A hand full of nuts and a piece of dark chocolate or one rice cracker with natural 100% peanut butter.
18.00 Dinner: Slices of oven-baked sweet potatoes and carrots, red cabbage, cucumber, crunchy peanuts with or without chicken, dressing of fish sauce and lime juice. Or soup (pee, lentils, or pumpkin) with parmesan cheese and dark bread. Take your supplements.
19.00 Move: When possible go for a walk after dinner.
19.30 Leisure Time / Socialize: Spend time with your family. Call or send a message to a friend or a relative. Reach out to people, build and strengthen your relationships, and schedule time in your agenda to help others.
20.00 Dessert (Before bed snack): Greek yogurt with blueberries, oatmeal, and honey, or a piece of dark chocolate.
21.00 Personal Time: Enjoy some lonely time. Work on a personal project. Cath up with some study. Ponder over how you lived that day in harmony with your values, mission, and purpose.
22.00 Relax. Turn off all blue light (tv, phone, tablets…) and wireless signals. (Listen to audiobooks or Bible reading can help to turn the brain off). A cold shower also can help you sleep.
22.30 Bad time: Follow some of the recommendations for this week and make sure you sleep 6 to 8 hours every night.
Keep me updated on how you are progressing and how you are enjoying the journey.
Have sweet dreams and be awesome.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not substitute medical advice.