It’s Women’s Health Week and studies show that while women today are leading healthier lives physically, there are still quite a few missing pieces to the overall picture of health and well-being.
Over 6 days I’m sharing scientifically proven biohacking tips on taking charge of your overall health and wellness.
Biohacking is the process of making changes to your lifestyle in order to “hack” your body’s biology and feel your absolute best. Everything we put into our bodies — our foods, our thoughts, our physical movement — are inputs to our biology and have an enormous impact on our outputs — how we behave, feel, function, and perform on a daily basis.
If the goal is better outputs such as increased energy, clearer thinking, better moods, happier relationships, reduction in illness, optimum performance, and so on, then we need to adjust our inputs.
DAY 5 // SLEEP
Sleep is one of the most critical aspects of our overall health and most women aren’t getting enough of it. Especially the week before a new cycle begins.
Sleep is imperative to supporting optimal health, a healthy metabolism, energy production, immune function, proper digestion, good decision-making, training performance, regulating cortisol levels, and keeping a clear and calm mind. Unfortunately, more than a third of adults get the minimum requirement to keep health problems in check.
As adults, we need a minimum of 6 hours of sleep, but in order to function well and thrive, we need 7-9 hours.
Signs you aren’t getting enough sleep:
You struggle with your weight — Poor sleep disrupts appetite regulation and can lead to increased eating as well as an increase in the stress hormone cortisol which is related to weight gain
Your brain is foggy — Sleep is important for reinforcing learned experiences into memory. Without adequate sleep, you can experience confusion, impaired judgement, forgetfulness and reduced alertness and concentration
You get sick frequently — Lack of sleep increases inflammation and decreases T-cells which lead to increased vulnerability to viruses and bacteria as well as a risk for heart disease and other inflammatory-related disease
Your workouts feel super hard and you’re not recovering well — Your body uses sleep to recover and recharge the nervous system. Minimal sleep can lower energy levels, decrease reaction time, decrease your capacity for endurance, lower the desire to exercise, and lead to depressed mood
You’re unhappy — Sleep is imperative for hormone regulation and an interference can cause impaired regulation of emotions, heightened stress, decreased mood and an increased risk of depression
How to prepare for a better night’s sleep:
Wake naturally with light which naturally raises cortisol, a hormone we typically don’t want to see a big spike in except for the morning, which helps you feel more alert and relaxed.
Use an app to sync your sleep and wake cycle by sensing and waking when you’re at the lightest stage in your sleep cycle.
Avoid hitting snooze a million times and sit up and put your feet on the floor right away. (this is the hardest one for me).
Make sure to get exposure to daylight throughout the day to regulate the sleep hormone melatonin.
Get consistent and regular exercise. This helps normalize the body’s internal clock and regulates the nervous system and hormonal levels. Avoid intense exercise in the evening which can make it more challenging to fall asleep.
Avoid caffeine after 2pm and limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks in the evening.
Eat a balanced and small to medium sized that consists of protein, fat and slow digesting carbs and avoid caloric deprivation.
Do a brain dump before bed by writing down any thoughts that are on your mind, things you need to do, responses to emails you need to get out, a friend you need to call, etc. This helps promote true relaxation and reduces worry by getting the things swirling in your mind down on paper.
Stick to a schedule and attempt to go to bed at the same time every evening which teaches your body when to release appropriate sleep hormones.
Give your body extra time to wind down before bed and incorporate a magnesium supplement into your nightly routine.
Create a relaxing and quiet sleep environment with a white noise machine and free it of anxiety-inducing clutter.
Make the room as dark as possible to maximize melatonin production by using black out curtains and flipping your phone over.
Turn off electronics, phones, and computers at least 30 minutes before bed as artificial light interferes with our production of melatonin.
Try reading, meditating, light stretching, or sex which can release tension and activate chemicals that help calm the body down
Sleep at least 7 hours. Work your way up if you are currently getting far less than that. Even adding just 30 minutes can make a big difference.
LET ME KNOW…
Do you get enough sleep? Do you have any habits that work great or you in ensuring you get enough sleep?
What other adjustments have you made to your lifestyle to support your overall health and wellness? Share your favorite tips in the comments below — others in the community might benefit from your recommendations!
Come connect with me on Instagram @running_with_forks
Do you have any questions not answered in this post? Comment below or send me a note so I can continue to add information to answer your questions.