I did a survey in my facebook group about a week and a half ago. How much sleep do you normally get on any average night? As someone who prioritizes sleep above food, water, or really any other need, I expected the results to be somewhere around 7-8 hours. I was shocked.
Most of the women in my group are getting somewhere between 3 to 6 hours a night. THREE hours of sleep?! Y’all. That’s not a night’s rest. That’s a nap!
I talk until I’m blue in the face about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I do this because I think it’s the basis of what makes the rest of our lives great and sadly, the bottom rung of it, our most basic needs, are not being met on a daily basis. The survey I posted is a prime example of that. Food, water, air, homeostasis, sex and sleep. How many of those are you actually meeting every day?
We’ve always heard that adults need between 6-8 hours of sleep per night. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. The National Sleep Foundation says that statistic is just to function. To truly thrive, an adult needs 7-9 hours a night. This is merely an average. Some adults (like myself) need more like 9.5-10 hours to truly wake up feeling rested, rejuvenated and ready to crush the day. So what if we’re cutting that in half and not getting enough?
Well first off, your cognitive abilities are slowed…like being drunk. You can’t think as clearly, communicate as well, or handle the obstacles life throws at you like you would if you were rested. Secondly, all you can concentrate on is how tired you are so you start habit stacking in the worst way. You add caffeine in the form of more coffee and soda. This causes your body to release even more cortisol (the belly fat hormone) which also taxes your adrenal glands. Because of the release of cortisol, your sweet tooth is triggered and you’re now adding an additional habit stack of reaching for all the junk food. This also adds to more fat storage because as your pancreas releases insulin to break down the food that’s then passed around to your muscles but rejected because you aren’t moving as much (because again, you’re too tired) so that energy is now stored as fat. Additionally, according to this article, coffee has a half life of 3-5 hours but your body also builds up a resistance to it causing you to need more and more in order to stay awake. So 10 hours after you drink the first cup, the caffeine starts to work and 10 hours after your last cup is when your body actually rests enough to sleep and sleep well. Is your mind racing when you lay down at night? Count backwards 10 hours. Were you still drinking coffee OR soda at that time? The caffeine is causing you not to sleep, but you “need” it in the morning to stay awake. See the complicated problem here?
Our daily lives also play a part in not getting enough sleep. In my survey, many women weren’t going to bed at night because they felt they still had so much to do. This makes us fall into the life drifts of ambition and approval. Approval says we’ll never “be good enough” and ambition says we’ll “never do enough”. Put those together and you have a recipe for disaster that has your subconscious telling you that you’ll never be a good enough parent, spouse, person, or success story unless you (fill in the blank with any to do list item). But the reality is that you are already good enough and you already do plenty! But if you aren’t well rested, you can’t do anything to the best of your ability and you can’t be a good enough person if you’re a snappy jerk to everyone who says hello because you are exhausted.
So how do you overcome this? A lot of willpower, change and a deep look into why you aren’t sleeping in the first place.
1. Anxiety. I’ve been there. It’s a beast but you have to overcome your mindset in order to overcome your anxiety. Get a coach or someone to help you.
2. Wein yourself off the caffeine and drink more water! Water will help energize you, leave you less dehydrated and help your overall health. It will also fill you up so you aren’t reaching for the sweet treats.
3. Put down the phone. The blue light is wrecking your serotonin levels and causing your brain to think you’re more awake, counteractive to the goal here.
4. Stop telling yourself you’re a bad person if you don’t get the dishes done or the laundry or the house is a wreck. Really analyze WHY you’re breaking yourself in order to have this clean of a house. Wouldn’t you be able to be more efficient if you had the energy (from sleep- not caffeine) to do it?
5. Delegate and/or Ask for Help! Do you have children? They NEED to be helping you. Teach them responsibility. Teach them to help out around the house. It takes everyone doing their part to make your household a well oiled machine. Same goes for your spouse. Team players here. At the same time though, nobody can read minds so everyone needs to know what you’d like done and how you’d like it done. Communicate your expectations.
6. Priorities. Get ’em straight. If TV is higher on your priority list than sleep, we might need to take a look at that.
Lastly, I have realized that this is such a struggle for so many that if you are truly ready to make a change and you’re not sure how to incorporate more/better sleep into your day, I am offering 60 minutes of sleep strategy coaching for $35. We will go over your routine and what keeps you up at night, revamp it and make a plan that works for you to help you get the sleep you need. All you need to do is implement the plan! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with 3 times that work for you in the next week and let’s get you to a place where you are less stressed, less depleted and better rested!