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Let's Talk About Sleep

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

Blog 2. Healthful High Performance 08/07/22

How to Boost Your Health By Improving Your Sleep

Is lack of sleep sabotaging your health?

Sleep matters BIG time. Without enough sleep, life becomes an uphill battle in so many ways. Sleep deprivation is a serious issue, and will sabotage your health and any health goals you might have.

Today I’d like to share exactly why it matters and what to do about it.


Sleep and weight are intimately related. If you are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, you are setting yourself up to be hungrier, eat more, weigh more, and have a more challenging time losing weight. It’s not all in your head.

Scientists now know that if you consistently survive on too little sleep (less than seven and a half hours of sound sleep per night), you will not be functioning at your best, focusing properly or thinking creatively. The cherry on top is that you are also sabotaging any attempts to take control of healthy eating and your weight.

Sleep deprivation causes hormone imbalance, particularly the ones that affect your feelings of hunger. Ghrelin (the hunger hormone that makes you feel more hungry) and leptin (the satiety hormone that tells you when you’ve had enough to eat) are majorly disrupted when you are not sleeping enough. So, after a night of lousy sleep, if you feel like you need to eat a banquet, it’s not all in your head but rather in your hormones. The feast you desire will be filled with high-carb, starchy foods and not the lovely healthy ones you might otherwise choose.


Lack of sleep also messes with stress hormones, and stress messes with your sleep. It’s a vicious circle and one excellent reason why it is so important to take the time to unwind before hitting the sack. Cortisol is one of the main stress hormones. It should follow a specific pattern throughout the day, starting low (after all, you will have just got up from a ‘restful sleep’), rising to a peak in the morning to get you out of bed and gradually tailing off towards evening time. Prolonged periods of stress can create an imbalance in this daily rhythm that may lead to high cortisol levels come night-time. Typically, this would leave you feeling tired but wired – absolutely exhausted, but your head is buzzing when you hit the pillow. Not exactly the recipe for success.

The stress placed on the body by lack of sleep also upsets your body’s sensitivity to insulin (the fat-storage hormone), which contributes to weight gain and this, in turn, exacerbates hormonal symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats.


The more starchy carbs you eat, the more glucose in your blood and the higher the amount of insulin your body needs to restore blood sugar balance. If your diet is high in starchy carbs like bread, rice, pasta and sugars, you make more insulin, which creates blood sugar fluctuations at night, and these cause sleep disturbances. A sugar ‘crash’ at night triggers a release of cortisol to wake you up at the wrong time, which can shift you out of deep sleep into a lighter sleep phase. Moving to a way of eating that balances your blood sugar helps significantly improve the quality of your sleep.


There are a number of things you can do (or not do) to improve your chances of sleeping well.


· Try to go to bed at the same time every day. Your body thrives on routine.

· Keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortable; not too hot nor too cold.

· Keep the bedroom completely dark so you’re not disturbed by light, which your brain detects even when your eyes are closed. Eye masks can be useful.

· Spend time outdoors to soak up the sun.

· Try to take some gentle exercise every day. There is evidence that regular exercise improves restful sleep. This includes stretching and aerobic exercise. A brisk walk ticks both boxes.

· Make an effort to relax for at least 15 minutes before going to bed - a warm bath, massage, meditation.

· Keep your feet and hands warm. Wear warm socks and/or mittens or gloves to bed if you struggle with cold extremities.

· Consider getting a traditional alarm clock so your smartphone can stay out of the bedroom (see below). Better still, work out how much sleep you need by going to bed 15 minutes earlier until you find that you wake up naturally before your alarm. That’s your personal sleep requirement.


· Engage in stimulating activities – like playing a competitive game, watching an edge-of-the- seat film, or having an important conversation with a loved one. Even using smartphones and tablets can interfere with sleep because they emit the same kind of light as the morning sun.

· Eat a heavy meal within four hours of going to bed.

· Drink caffeine in the afternoon – including coffee, ‘normal’ and green tea, and colas.

· Use alcohol to help you sleep. Alcohol can make sleep more disturbed.

· Go to bed too hungry. Have a snack before bed – a glass of your favourite mylk is ideal (mine is half almond and half coconut - with no added sugar :)

· Try to avoid daytime naps.

· Try not to get frustrated if you can’t sleep. Go to bed in a positive mood – “I will sleep tonight”.

Remember that just knowing this information will not give you the restful night’s sleep you are looking for. The only thing that counts is ACTION.

* I warmly invite you to put getting more and better sleep at the top of your to-do list this week to see what a difference it can make. You might already have a whole list of items for this weekend, but focusing on THIS ONE THING might be what you need to see a fundamental shift in everything else.

I wish you a heavenly sleep-filled weekend!

As a final note, putting the ‘Sleep work' into your life alongside the commitment to regularly de-stress, move your body and prioritise nutritious food, is not always easy to do on your own. It can be helpful to have someone – like me – to guide, support and cheer you along the way.

If you would like to hear more about how I help my clients, you can go to my home page to book your complimentary zoom consultation.

I’d be delighted to hear from you!

...and if your organisation is looking to boost Healthful High Performance in the workplace and you'd like to hear more about my ✨Move,✨Nourish,✨Flourish programs,

Because Life Should Feel Amazing!

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