Ways to Maintain a Healthy Sleep Cycle

Let's be real.. We all lack quality sleep most nights because of our busy days. Trust me, I struggle with the same problem! I am a nursing student... I don't think any of us even get our recommended hours of sleep most nights of the week!

While it may be hard to find time to sleep, I have developed the best plan for myself to increase my sleep time and regulate my sleep cycle. With these easy tips, you can find a bunch of ways to increase your beauty sleep at night!

  • Change into your COMFIEST PJ's & socks, turn your fan on and cover yourself in your coziest blanket in your house! Night routine's are essential to the regular secretion of melatonin.
  • Place some Lavender essential oil on your pillow. I like to shower and place a couple drops of lavender in my hair so every time I get a smell of my hair, it makes me feel dreamy! (I will soon talk about wonderful uses lavender can bring to your life, stay tuned)
  • Turn off your phone, tablet and laptop, turn on your bedside lamp and get out your favorite book! Reading calms your mind from the thoughts and busyness from your life. 
  • Avoid watching TV!! I can not stress this enough!
  • Make a cup of hot tea or warm milk before bed, but do not overeat during dinner time and stay hydrated during the day, read about the importance of water here!
  • Create a sleep pattern by going to bed and waking up around the same time everyday.
  • Be active during the day. To learn more about the importance of exercise and activity, read my post here. I was chilling around the house HARD CORE a couple of days ago and ended up going to bed past 1am (which I haven't done in a couple years) because I did not have any activity in my day and was not tired. Talk about lack of sleep..

My personal nighttime routine

I love my nighttime routine; I typically go to bed around 10 on school night and wake up around 7am depending on the day. Some of my sweet classmates and friends like to laugh at my early evenings, but I very highly appreciate my nighttime routine, that I just can't skip it! So here are the things I seem to do almost every evening to get ready for bed:

  • Shower or wash my face & body, put lotion on almost every part of my body because who doesn't love moisturized skin, and face moisturizer on.
  • Brush my teeth, take out contacts, pluck eyebrows, etc. 
  • Put on my chosen comfy PJ's of the night. I value comfy PJ's and you can see me wearing a giant t-shirt and sleeping shorts almost every night. 
  • I take a vitamin and drink an entire GIANT glass of water before crawling into bed.
  • I never forget to roll some lavender onto my pillow or wrists before leaving the bathroom as well.
  • Sometimes I even put on soft music to listen to before pulling my covers down and crawling into bed.
  • I plug EVERYTHING into a charger so I am prepared and ready to go the next day.
  • Finally, I crawl into bed and pull out my chosen book for the week that I want to read. I typically read for 15 minutes before turning on my bedside lamp and setting my alarm.  

Melatonin Supplements

I must talk about these synthetic hormone supplements while we are on this topic.. If any of you have ever heard my rant about these supplements, you may understand why I had to hit on this topic. 

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by your brain, the pineal gland, and is helps regulate your sleep (circadian) cycle. Melatonin helps your body become sleepy and thus helps you fall asleep. While melatonin may help you fall asleep, it doesn't necessarily help you STAY asleep. 

My personal issue with melatonin supplements is the dependence they can create - no not like a drug. Melatonin supplements taken on a regular basis can cause your brain to be tricked into thinking it doesn't need to secrete melatonin as much, so your body does not become drowsy at night as it is suppose to, thereby producing the inclination to take another melatonin supplement. 

As you can probably guess, this causes an endless cycle of an unregulated sleep cycle. 

Now, if your doctor prescribes or recommends these supplements, follow your regimen. There are many reasons and explainations for using these supplements. But that is just my PERSONAL preference. 

Importance of Sleep

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation impacts many people in all cultures, all social classes, all ethnicities and all regions. It is an increasing health issue that can be prevented. But, you may ask and wonder what kind of health impact does sleep even have on your health? You may be surprised with this answer. 

Approximately 1 in 3 Americans are receiving less than 7 hours of sleep each night AND over the past 20 years the prevalence of adults receiving less than 6 hours of sleep has increased.

If you were wondering who this perfect, precious baby is, don't be surprised when I tell you that he is my favorite (my only) nephew in the entire world. Join me in praying for the handsome boy's future!

If you were wondering who this perfect, precious baby is, don't be surprised when I tell you that he is my favorite (my only) nephew in the entire world. Join me in praying for the handsome boy's future!

Recommended time for sleep is listed below:

Hours of sleep per day based on age

If you pregnant, older than 65 or have a history of disturbed sleep, your needs for sleep may increase.

Deficits

Sleep deprivation decreases performance, cognition, safety and quality of life.

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  • Cognition - Sleep deprivation causes memory loss, inattention, complex decision making, slow response time, decline of short-term recall of working memory, reduction of cognition tasks and learning, response suppression occurs and causes an alteration in prefrontal cortex functioning, performance deficits
  • Motor Performance - Sleep deprivation increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents, work related injuries and fatal accidents. 

Overall health deficits

  • Healthy individuals with prolonged sleep deprivation have been shown to have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, impaired glucose intolerance, diabetes, obesity, higher evening cortisol levels, higher levels of inflammatory activators causing cell injury, antioxidant defenses decrease, and much more.
  •  People with 7-8 hours of sleep per night have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Sleep deprivation increases your blood pressure and strain on the heart and blood vessels, which lead to stroke and heart attacks.
  • Sleep deprivation increases the risk of diabetes and obesity, you have increased hunger hormones in your body which makes you overeat. 
  • Decreased immune function, impaired ability to fight off infection.

Your body NEEDS sleep in order to function correctly. It is so important to create a pattern and schedule of your sleep cycle because your body has a natural circadian cycle, where it secretes the hormone melatonin which creates sleepiness. 


 

Sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353049/

Importance of Water

HYDRATION

1 cup down, 10 more to go! i challenge you to see the difference in your health by drinking your recommended amount of water! I would love to hear the difference it makes in your life, send me results!

1 cup down, 10 more to go! i challenge you to see the difference in your health by drinking your recommended amount of water! I would love to hear the difference it makes in your life, send me results!

Fluid intake is one of the most important, modifiable factor that is essential to your body's function. Your body is about 2/3 water, that means you constantly need to replenish your water supply to maintain your healthy amount of water! Without adequate fluid intake, you can start to see the effects of dehydration almost immediately to the extent of not being about to maintain life after a few days without any water intake!

Dehydration is a term that means the state of something that is lacking water, or fluids. 


Sometimes I just CRAVE a ripe watermelon and a day in the sand. That was my  goal  for spring beak:  Lay out on the beach and eat a juicy watermelon.  Watermelon is 97% water, which we all know you can't just eat a couple pieces of. This delicious and juicy fruit is a perfect way to add to your fluid intake. 

Sometimes I just CRAVE a ripe watermelon and a day in the sand. That was my goal for spring beak: Lay out on the beach and eat a juicy watermelon. Watermelon is 97% water, which we all know you can't just eat a couple pieces of. This delicious and juicy fruit is a perfect way to add to your fluid intake. 

You can intake water from foods (22% of water intake), like fruits and vegetables, or directly as a beverage. Keep in mind, if you do not consume fruits and vegetables daily,  your intake of water from food will greatly decrease from this average.

Good sources of water in food: Fat-free milk, cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon, lettuce, cabbage, celery, spinach, pickles, squash, yogurt, apples, grapes, oranges, carrots, broccoli, pears, pineapple, bananas, avocados, cottage cheese

I recommend balancing your diet with 8-10 8 oz glasses of water per day and then receiving the rest of water intake from meals/diet.


Functions of water:

  • Maintains the energy your body needs in order to function
  • Lubrication of joints and eyes
  • Eliminates toxins on the skin, keeping it healthy to maintain its function as a barrier in the immune system.
  • Facilitates proper digestion and gastric emptying
  • Maintains circulation, heart blood flow and blood pressure
  • Supports your cells in regeneration and regrowth
  • Helps release byproducts, toxins, and waste products from your body
  • Promotes the function of the kidneys
  • Regulates your bodies temperature control, through sweat production
  • Enables physical performance, athletes are at risk for dehydration related to increased sweating
  • Sustains blood volume which impacts stroke volume of the heart and cardiac output (blood pressure and heart rate)
  • Influences cognition
  • There is a BILLION other functions water has on your body, these are just a few main ones I can inform you of!

ways to incorporate water into you daily routine

When I hit the beach, I try to bring  3-4 bottles of water  since heat causes your body to lose fluids through sweat.

When I hit the beach, I try to bring 3-4 bottles of water since heat causes your body to lose fluids through sweat.

  1. Drink a glass of water right when you wake up to start your metabolism and urinary system to eliminate toxins.
  2. Drink 2 glasses of water with each meal, drinking one during and one right after.
  3. Drink 1 glass before going to bed. I started doing this and have NOT experienced any nocturia (night time urination).
  4. Take a water bottle or 2 to work, class or even throw a couple in your car! You never know when you may need some.

Early Symptoms of dehydration

  • Thirst - You start to feel thirsty when your body loses 1-2% of fluid. 
  • Dry, cracked lips
  • Dry skin
  • Sleepiness, tiredness, dizziness, confusion
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dark colored, minimal urine
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fatigue

Once your body feels the sense of dehydration, your posterior pituitary gland secrets Antidiuretic Hormone, which decreases the urine production by the kidneys, thus trying to maintain the concentration of water in the body.

Dehydration can be determined by the 'skin turgor' test. To determine skin turgor, grasp the skin on the back of the hand between two fingers so that it is tented up. Hold the skin for a few seconds, then release. Skin with normal turgor snaps rapidly back to its normal position. Skin with decreased turgor remains elevated and returns slowly to its normal position. A decreased/slow skin turgor shows dehydration.


Here is a table that shows the amount of water to consume based off of energy requirements

Compared to water, it is shown that added sugar such as milk and juice actually decreases your energy intake. It is hard to determine the amount of water to individually intake since it is influenced by so many factors such as body mass, muscle mass, energy consumption, state of health, etc. But, it is shown that the best way to determine the amount of water to intake is based off of energy requirement.

Barry Popkin, Kristen D’Anci, and Irwin Rosenburg state here that studies suggest US adults averagely consume about 2100 ml of water per day, while for 19-30 year old females should be intaking 2700 ml, and males 19-30 at 3700 ml.

That means females should be drinking 11.5 8oz cups of water per day and men drinking 15.5 8oz cups of water per day! How many cups of water are you not intaking DAILY?!?! 

You can look at this peer-reviewed article to read about hydration and chronic illnesses.


Barry Popkin, Kristen D’Anci, and Irwin Rosenburg state in their peer reviewed article, ”We need to know more about the extent that water intake might be important for disease prevention and health promotion.” This indicates a need to further investigation the effects of water, because so much is still unknown. But today I wanted to merely just talk about the effects of water that we know of today and would be most beneficial for you.

 

Sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/