As a health coach I often discuss the importance of sleep. It seems like common sense that a stellar sleep routine is good for your health, right?
However, it wasn't until after I saw Arianna Huffington speak at an Integrative Nutrition conference did I fully realize the power of sleep.
Despite understanding the power of sleep, I found that even I was guilty of late night work binges and early bird writing sessions. Both which deprived me of those extra z's.
After hearing Arianna's story of how sleep deprived she was from work binges that put her health and wellbeing at risk, I realized that I could eventually fall into that same pattern. So, I decided to fully commit to upping my sleep game to see if I noticed any improvements.
In America, we love to work hard and constantly achieve. We get up early, drive long commutes, and work hard all day, every day. Then, we are addicted to checking emails and updating Facebook even late at night. Sleep has become an American luxury rather than health necessity.
Yet, sleep is one of the most powerful healing mechanisms we have. Each night, while your body is asleep, an internal cleaning crew cleanses your insides to prep your body for the following day. Lack of sleep delays this process and, over time, your body breaks down.
So I dedicated a solid month to seeing and understanding how my body had changed and what sleep really does. Here are four things that I've learned:
1. More sleep is a key ingredient to increased productivity. One of the first things I noticed, aside from how rested I truly felt, is how much more productive I was. With lack of sleep comes lack of energy. Therefore, we usually feel like we have to work harder to accomplish more because, throughout the day, it can be hard to get motivated to be productive. With proper sleep, however, you can be productive all day long and get more done than you ever dreamed (no pun intended).
2. You notice more of what your body needs. Ever experience a midday headache? You may think its dehydration or stress, but it could also be lack of sleep. The better sleep I get, the more I notice when my body has not had enough. When a headache comes on I am able to immediately recognize that lack of sleep is the culprit and I know just how to fix it: a nap.
3. Food cravings decline. As the Food Mood Girl, I am all about digging deep to understand our bodies' unique cravings. When I wasn't getting enough sleep or traveling, I noticed that my body craved more sugary or caffeinated foods. This is most likely why coffee and energy drinks are some of the most popular beverages in our under-rested, over-worked country. My cravings subsided as I got more rest throughout the day. Sometimes, all your body needs is a nap, not a coffee.
4. Joy is a feeling meant to be fully embraced. As an entrepreneur, I love to hustle. It's one of my favorite things. I like getting stuff done and making things happen. However, that usually left me with little time to allow my body to experience joy from the good things that happen. Instead, I was always off to the next. Once I shifted my sleep game, my body naturally felt capable of experiencing joy to the highest capacity. I could sit longer with good news and experience joy without feeling like I had to move on to the next task.
I encourage you to notice how sleep (or lack thereof) is affecting your life, your career, your relationships, or your health. What would your body feel like if you had more of it? I encourage you to start your own nightly sleeping routine to see how you feel. Try not to exchange "success" for sleep or sacrifice your health for "productivity." Instead, give your body the gift of sleep, and success and productivity will follow.