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Get a Good Night’s Sleep

The average American gets about 5-5 ½ hours of sleep each night. The majority of research out there shows that we need at least 7-9 hours, which shows that we are running on a major sleep deficit. Sleep is the required nutrient for your body to function, just as food, water, and air are as well. Below are some examples on how to get a good nights sleep.Listen to the Podcast:

There’s a couple ‘hard-and- fast’ rules when it comes to sleep. One of the key things is establishing a routine – go to bed and wake up at the same time, every day. I recommend going to bed at 9 o’clock because the more hours of sleep you can get before midnight, the better quality of sleep and rest you’re going to get the rest of the night. Your body goes through cycles of sleep: Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3 (getting into deep sleep), Stage 4 & 5 which are REM sleep (dreams), and then the cycle repeats throughout the night. Stage 3, 4, and 5 are when your body releases the highest amount of “growth hormones”, which are responsible for repairing cell damage. While your body is being broken down all day, sleep is when it is being repaired.

As far as wakeup time, I suggest between 4-6 a.m. When you get up in the morning, you want to first do your exercise, because it gets your metabolism going and it’s easier to start your day. If you are working out your body, you will also want to work out your mind by listening to some type of positive music, podcast, or doing something like writing down your goals. These are all things you want to do first thing when you get up.

Another ‘hard-and- fast’ rule about sleep is that you do not nap during the day. If falling asleep at night is difficult for you, a hard rule is not to nap during the afternoon – no matter how tired you are. The reason for this is because after those 2-3 hours of napping, you won’t be tired once 9 o’clock roles around. Another hard rule is to not put anything in your mouth after 7p.m., or 4 hours prior to going to bed. The reason why, is because after eating a large meal and then going to bed, you’re more prone to gaining weight. Also, after eating a meal with more carbs or starches, your blood sugar spikes, insulin is released, and you’re initially tired; but only until your blood sugar is brought back down, which then your body must produce more stress hormones to bring that back up, which wakes you up.

If you’re being woken up around 2 or 3 a.m., that’s typically a sign of high stress. If your mind won’t shut off, one of the best things to do is to create a to-do list. I suggest keeping a notebook right by your bed for when this happens. Another thing that I suggest is to create a gratitude list of 200 things, every single night before bed, that you’re thankful for. No less than 200, but once you’re there; go to bed. The things that you think about before bed are the things that’ll be running through your head all night long. Another hard rule is no screen time prior to bed. Things such as the news prior to sleep cause stress during the night. I also suggest the ’10 Foot Rule’ – no cell phones, computers, etc. within 10 feet of you before bed. Ultimately, you want to read or do something positive before going to sleep.

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This article was reviewed and approved by Dr. Matthew Phinney.

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