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When we want to get healthier, we usually focus on our food and exercise. These are two very important elements to health, but there is another element that may be affecting your ability to get the results you’re looking for, and that is sleep.
Your lack of sleep may be affecting your health if you have a difficult time getting out of bed, have strong cravings for sugar and carbohydrates, are regularly too tired to cook dinner, or find it difficult to motivate to exercise consistently. These are all signs that you’re not getting the rest you need.
How much sleep do you need? It varies from person to person, but it’s usually about eight hours per night. The number of hours is not the whole story. If you are going to sleep at 11pm or later, you may feel tired even if you are getting eight or more hours of sleep. I’ve experimented with this and found that I need to go to sleep around 10pm in order to feel well-rested the next day. If I go to sleep at 11pm or 12am, I feel I have lost many hours of sleep – even if I sleep later. Experiment with your sleep schedule and see what bedtime works best for you.
What about “night people?” Some people are convinced that they are night people but I believe they’ve simply forced their body into a new habit. Our internal circadian rhythms, body temperatures, and cortisol levels all give proof that we are not nocturnal beings. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that you start to feel sleepy between 7:00 and 9:00pm. Your body is sending you a message to slow down for the day. If you, ignore this message and stay up past 10pm, you will get a second-wind and be able to stay up for hours.
What happens when you stay up late? For one, you will likely experience one of the side-effects mentioned above. You will feel sluggish, crave unhealthy foods, and have less motivation to eat well, cook, and exercise. This in-turn will impact your ability to lose weight, feel vibrant, and be healthy. Why is this the case? Between 10pm and 2am, our liver and blood are cleansed. If you are awake during this time-frame, your liver and blood will not get cleansed and impurities will be pushed back into the bloodstream. John Doulliard, an ayurvedic practitioner, uses an analogy to explain this that I think is very effective. Think of a janitor who comes to clean an office building after regular work hours. If the people are still working, the janitor can’t get his or her job done. In fact, the janitor will have to let the cleaning wait until the next day. The same thing is happening in your body if you’re not sleeping between 10am and 2pm.
By getting adequate sleep at the right times, you can set yourself up for success in maintaining healthy habits and generally being happy and productive. Think about whether your sleep schedule is working for you right now. If you suspect it could be improved, identify what you think would work best for you and experiment with a new schedule.
Women: are you sick and tired of feeling unhealthy and down on yourself?
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