NUTRITION

FILLING YOUR FOUNDATIONS: START WITH SLEEP

LC Arisman, Certified Health Navigator & Personal Trainer

If you participated in the May You Be Well challenge, you noticed that our first challenge had to do with establishing healthy sleep habits. Most Americans do not get enough sleep, and in some circles it’s almost a bragging right. “I only got five hours of sleep last night!” “That’s a good night for me…” Can you imagine bragging about other elements of health in that way? “I drink almost no water.” “I rarely eat a vegetable.” “Some days I stay on the couch all day long.”

Sleep is a crucial component of health. Without proper rest, our hormones get all out of whack which can raise our blood sugars and triglycerides, not to mention tanking our metabolism. Most scientific literature finds that adults need a minimum of seven hours of sleep to restore proper body function, everything from immunity to mood to athletic performance and digestion rely on proper rest for proper function.

Cheri Mah, a sleep medicine researcher at Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco says “Lots of individuals think they can operate on less, but when you test them, you find they’re not performing at their best. They get used to feeling tired, and they think that’s the norm.” Sleep is the foundation that supports a healthy mind and body, and if that base is wobbly, your health will suffer.

My advice? Make sleep a priority and start small. Begin your bedtime ritual ten minutes earlier than usual. Don’t have a bedtime ritual? Create one—little cues that tell your brain it’s time for sleep, like washing your face, brushing your teeth, and changing into your pajamas. The ritual doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just a process to unwind and prepare for rest. A few deep breaths or a relaxation meditation can also be beneficial to decelerate your mind and settle in for good sleep. If you can get 10 extra minutes a night, you’ve added more than an hour to your sleep total at the end of the week. Then bump it back little by little until you get up to 7 or 8 hours.

If you’d like help cultivating healthy habits: [email protected]

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