Day 20 is here! I intended to write a half-way point post, but my schedule last week was ridiculous. Normally I would have sucked it up and written the post instead of sleeping, but I didn’t and I’m about to tell you why.
After taking care of my diet and doing well with that for about two weeks, I started realizing that something was still missing. I was feeling better, but still not to that fantastic point. As I told you in my last post, if something is amiss, it’s a good idea to evaluate your diet, your sleep, your exercise, your stress levels, etc. Immediately what came to mind was my sleep pattern, or more appropriately, my lack of a sleep pattern. I’ve always been a night owl but pregnancy and children have compounded my problem.
I had a baby a little over a year ago and as anyone that has ever been pregnant already knows, sleeping isn’t fun when you’re 30+ pounds, achy pretty much everywhere, and have this wiggly human kicking your organs. Oh, did I mention that for a stomach sleeper it’s basically torture. You have to sleep on your side, with a pillow between your legs to support your hips, because your hip joints are loose, weird, and painful. Seriously, who does that! I won’t even get started on the leg cramps that keep you up all night, if you’re lucky enough to fall asleep. They say this lack of sleep is preparing you for the sleep you aren’t going to get when the baby gets here, which brings me through the next year, baby waking up all the time to eat and be annoying.
On top of being a night owl, pregnancy and baby complications, I also have a job as a bartender. I work from 4 p.m. to around 10 p.m. By the time I get home, eat a bite, clean up, and actually sit down to relax it’s usually well after midnight. A few hours of down-time, kids are sleep, house is clean and quiet. It’s MY time! I can read a book, work on my blog, watch TV, or aimlessly surf the internet. I frequently stay up as late as 3 a.m. or 4 am. The baby wakes up around 9 a.m., sometimes earlier. So you see my problem? I’m getting between four and six hours of sleep at night when for optimal health it’s recommended you get between seven and nine.
I’ve been working on getting to bed earlier. I’m usually getting there by 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. There are a couple of things I’ve had to tweak, I make something in the mornings in the crock pot so I have dinner ready when I get home from work. I eat almost the second I walk in the door. Instead of cleaning up at night, I do it in the mornings. Sometimes that means being okay with a messy house at night or dirty dishes in the sink. I have been taking a hot bath a few nights a week. It is the most wonderful feeling in the entire world. I put away my phone, my computer, no TV. I light a few candles and for 30 minutes I read a book and let all the stresses of the day melt away. It has literally been a game changer. It makes me so sleepy, I can barely get dressed and in bed before I fall asleep. No joke, a hot bath works like a charm.
I’m still not getting as much as I would like but a week of prioritizing sleep and making an effort to get to sleep earlier has made me feel much, much better. The more I research, the more I understand just exactly HOW important the sleep factor is. Sleep loss increases levels of cortisol, your stress hormone. Which can suppress thyroid function and worsen or trigger hypothyroidism. Thyroid health is so important, it regulates your metabolism and controls how quickly the body uses energy and how sensitive the body is to other hormones. Cortisol also increases blood sugar, suppresses the immune system, decreases bone formation (think osteoporosis), and makes it harder for your body to burn fat. This is literally just the tip of the iceberg. Having your hormones in proper balance is key to making your body function efficiently and making you look and feel your best.
Are you getting enough sleep? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are purely the author’s own and are not necessarily shared by Green Oklahoma or other members of the staff. Use caution when starting new diets, if you have any health concerns be sure to consult a doctor. The author is not a doctor or dietitian.
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