How To Optimize Your Sleep To Improve Your “Health-Span”
“Sleep is the elixir of life… The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. Short sleep predicts all-cause mortality”. - Professor Matthew Walker
Did you know simply not getting enough restful sleep is linked to mental health issues, immune system failure, diabetes and insulin-resistance, cancer, obesity, memory loss, and accelerated aging. Just sleeping poorly for one night can result in damage to your skin elasticity, the storing of extra body fat. It is also essential to brain health and function. One way to hit the reset button on all of the systems in your body is GOOD SLEEP.
On the other hand, quality, consistent sleep keeps hormones balanced, improves brain function, often is associated with weight loss/management, improves skin, hair, and nail health, lowers the risk for all kinds of diseases, is associated with longevity, and so much more!
It’s common knowledge that we should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but is that all that determines a “good night’s sleep”? NOPE! There is a lot more to learn about what impacts your sleep efficiency. I hope to empower you with knowledge around sleep optimization so that you can make decisions to improve your overall well-being, and support you in your wellness journey through my new program - Serena’s Ultimate Health Reset!
QUANTITY MATTERS :
The number of hours you sleep matters, but there are a few things to note.
- It's not about a specific amount but most people say 7-9 hours.
- To get the 7 hour minimum your body needs, you have to be in bed for 8 hours. The healthy target in terms of “sleep efficiency” if you use a sleep tracking device, is to stay at 85% + sleep efficiency.
Tips for reaching that 7-9 hours of restful sleep :
- Nighttime Routine : Have a nighttime routine that teaches your brain it’s time to go to sleep. Then, get ready for bed an hour earlier than normal (pjs, brush teeth, stop looking at devices).
- Set a bedtime alarm.
- Try herbal teas - Have you heard of banana tea?
- Try Serena’s Plant-Based Sleep Aids : Serena’s Plant-Based Sleep Aids
- Retrain Your Brain :
- Change your mental association with “going to bed”. Think of going to bed as helping you be more productive tomorrow than taking away your productive time tonight.
- Restlessness - If you’re lying awake for over 25 minutes and can’t fall asleep, get up and get out of bed. Do some stretching or read until tired again. Re-teach your brain to link your bed to the place where you sleep.
QUALITY MATTERS :
Not just about quantity as much as quality of sleep - consistent & consolidated as well as how deep is your electrical brain wave activity. Getting good QUALITY sleep gives you more energy, less of a propensity to succumb to physical ailments, less risk of diseases, and supports proper brain function. A reduction in the quality of your sleep can be more detrimental than reduction in amount of sleep. But quantity is still a major factor as your body’s systems still need at least 7 hours.
Understanding your sleep cycle of passing between Non-REM sleep and REM Sleep is powerful information as well. The two cycles are not a complete 50/50 split as far as time goes, but non-REM sleep essentially occurs the first half of the night, and REM sleep occurs the second half of the night. REM sleep is where you dream! REM Sleep is an important part of your health in many ways, from increasing your lifespan, to processing and storing memories, to promoting creativity, brain power, and is your natural emotional therapy session. Yes, your brain actually deals with trauma and stress from the day during REM sleep to process and soothe the edge of emotions felt.
Tips for improving sleep quality :
- Daytime sunshine - Serotonin gets transcribed into melatonin, a helpful hormone for sleep. Did you know that sunlight helps to normalize your cortisol rhythm?
- Being on your phone 2 hrs before bed suppresses melatonin release. Stop all media consumption 90 minutes before bed. The artificial “blue” light emitted by electronic screens triggers your body to produce more daytime hormones.
- Reduce Stress - Have you heard of Flotation Therapy? Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine therapies have a calming effect and clear obstructions in our energetic channels. Learn more about healing your energy channels through my method Culinary Alchemy™.
- Crystals for better sleep : Howlite - Calms the mind & eliminates distractions for restful sleep
- Supplement Support : I recommend my supplements LOVE MY SLEEP, PEACE OF MIND, and SWEET DREAMS to help ease into a deep restorative sleep and support calm brain activity to help the body’s natural ability to stay asleep.
- Caffeine Cut-off- have a small amount of caffeine in the mornings before 10am. Having caffeine after 2 pm will inhibit sleep quality. It takes the average human, approximately eight hours to digest a half of the caffeine they've consumed that day.
- Alcohol - Refrain from alcohol, or cut-off 2 hours before bed. REM sleep is significantly disrupted when you drink alcohol. Not only will your brain and body not be able to rejuvenate, but alcohol also disrupts your memory processing stages.
- Get more Sleep Quality Tips
SLEEP + YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM :
Not only does not getting good sleep make you more susceptible to viruses, it also makes it more difficult for your body to recover. Getting restful, restorative sleep helps support our immune system’s incredible functions. During sleep your immune system releases proteins that are called cytokines, inflammatory agents that go to the site of infection, but also actually help to promote your sleep quality. Production of these cytokines actually needs to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, and when you're stressed.
So, sleep deprivation can actually decrease the production of these protective cytokines and that's how you become more likely to suffer from an infection. Getting 7-9 hours of restful sleep allows for proper functionality of the cytokines and therefore a strong immune system! Make sure you get good sleep to keep your defense system working for you at its best.
ALSO - Your killer-T cells, which are the white blood cells that fight viruses and infections, are produced during stages 3 & 4 of your sleep cycle.
SLEEP SUPPLEMENTS + SUPPORT
Should You Take A Melatonin Supplement?
Experimenting with a supplement in addition to including more whole foods, cutting off lights and stopping to use light-producing technology, and limiting alcohol is an effective method to improving sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, melatonin is not addictive on a short term basis and does not cause symptoms of withdrawal. Some people say they struggle to fall asleep after using melatonin supplements for extended periods of time.
I recommend my supplements *Coming Soon* - LOVE MY SLEEP, PEACE OF MIND, and SWEET DREAMS help ease into a deep restorative sleep and support calm brain activity to help the body’s natural ability to stay asleep. Both of these supplements contain melatonin as well as blends of botanicals, nutrients, and neurotransmitter precursors designed to support quality, restful sleep.
Serena’s Top Sleep Tips + Nighttime Routines from Sleep Experts on Serena Loves IG LIVE :