Sleep is fundamental for endocrine system health.
Lack of sleep, or sleeping out of sync with the body’s circadian rhythm (think night-shift workers), interferes with the release of a variety of hormones.
For example, melatonin, which starts to increase in the evening and is highest around midnight, functions to regulate our sleep. Melatonin also helps to ensure we get quality sleep, and helps to increase the length of our sleep.
Things like blue light emitted from laptops, phones and other devices blocks the production of melatonin and therefore interferes with our ability to get adequate sleep. The best thing we can do is avoid looking at screens for a last a couple of hours before we go to bed, but if this is not possible we can adjust the settings on these devices to ‘night’ mode, as well as wearing blue-light blocking glasses such as those from Ra Optics of Blu Blox Glasses.
In addition to this, other hormones like insulin, growth hormone and ghrelin are also affected by poor sleep habits. Disruption in the normal release of these hormones can result in weight gain due an increase in fat storage, lowered metabolism and an increase in appetite, respectively. Lack of sleep also affects our cortisol levels which can also lead to increased stress & anxiety.
Fortunately, there are many things we can do to improve our sleep that have little to no cost associated with them!
I suggest you begin by setting yourself some hard limits on when you need to have “lights out” to give yourself a full 8 hours sleep before your alarm goes off. If you like to read before bed like I do, then plan to be in bed even earlier so that your reading time doesn’t creep into your sleep time.
I also find it helpful to have a bedtime routine. This includes all the usual items like brushing my teeth, putting on pjs and having one last pee, but might also includes diffusing a favourite essential oil, having a bath, writing in a journal, performing progressive muscle relaxation or doing a meditation.
Sticking to this routine helps to tell your body it’s time to start preparing for sleep, and can help you fall asleep faster.
Other things we can do to improve our sleep include:
Hopefully I’ve given you a couple of good reasons to start prioritizing your sleep, and some ways in which to do so.
Have a great week!
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