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Published on May 5, 2021

How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule And Feel More Well-Rested

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How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule And Feel More Well-Rested

“I try to sleep early but I can’t fall asleep because my mind keeps racing.” “I wake up at 2 am and can’t go back to sleep.” “I’m so busy I can only get 5 hours of sleep a night.”

Recognizable?

Many people are looking for ways on how to fix their sleep schedules. It’s a hot topic—and it should be.

One study showed that not sleeping enough is basically like being drunk. When they measured the accuracy in shooting a target in the military after sleeping a certain amount of hours, they found that men who slept for more than 7 hours had an accuracy of 98%. For those who slept 6 hours, the accuracy dropped to 50%. That’s almost a 50% drop!

But it gets worse: those who slept for 5 hours had an accuracy of only 23%, and those who slept for less than 5 hours had an accuracy of 13%. Yes, not sleeping enough is basically like being drunk![1]

Sleep doesn’t only influence your accuracy, but it also affects other areas of your life:

  • Emotionally: you get cranky, irritable, or even depressed
  • Mentally: you can’t focus well or remember important information
  • Somatically: your body feels achy and sore
  • Physically: your cells can’t repair, the inflammation in your body goes up, and all kinds of health issues arise

So, why is it important to not only sleep enough but also have a steady sleep schedule?

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Your body needs a rhythm. The wake-sleep cycle is also called the circadian rhythm. It’s a constant play between cortisol and melatonin. Cortisol is your get-up-and-go hormone in the morning. It gets activated with sunlight. Melatonin is your sleep hormone and can only increase when cortisol goes down in the evening.

I know you thought of stress when I mentioned cortisol, and you’re right about that. Cortisol goes up when we are stressed, have an infection or inflammation in the body, and when we are digesting food.[2] If you’re that person who wakes up at 2 am and can’t fall back asleep, that is your cortisol speaking. It’s too high and, therefore, melatonin is too low.

In this article, I’ll share with you five tips on how to fix your sleep schedule.

1. Define Your Sleep Rhythm

Everybody is different. Find what works for you. Do you feel most rested when you sleep early and wake up early? Or are you more of an evening person who’s more productive when sleeping late and waking up late?

Listen to your body, and pick your sleep schedule. Don’t worry if you’re not sure about it. Look at it as an experiment. Pick your time of going to bed and your time of waking up, and test it out for a week. Doesn’t feel right? Switch it up until you find a rhythm that feels good.

Need some extra support to fix your schedule? Take the Power of When Quiz and find your Sleep Chronotype.

There’s an interesting 15-minute video training at the end to know more about the effects on your sleep when you exercise, eat, drink alcohol, drink coffee, etc.

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2. Create a 5-Minute Morning Routine

Five minutes is enough to tell your body that it’s time to wake up and to prime your brain to be in the right mood, to be focused, and to feel positive. In those first five minutes of the day, your brain wakes up and switches from a subconscious state to a conscious state. This basically means that any input you get and anything you do in those first five minutes will set the tone for the rest of your day.

If you wake up in a rush, you turn on your WiFi right away and check your messages, you watch the news, you think of everything you still need to do, and run out the door, those influence the rest of your day. Your mind feels scattered, you’re all-over-the-place, you don’t feel fully present, and your stress levels go through the roof.

Find a mini-morning routine so that you can wake up feeling more well-rested, calm, and in control of your day. Create a set of habits that you can repeat every day so your brain doesn’t need to make decisions yet, like waking up and drinking a glass of water with lime, making your bed, thinking of three things you’re grateful for, looking out the window with a cup of tea, or going for a quick walk to get some sunlight in. Soaking up that sunlight in the morning will even help you fall asleep faster at night.

3. Calm Down Your Brain in the Evening

Another tip on how to fix your sleep schedule is learning how to calm down your brain in the evening. It’s important to prepare your body and your brain for sleep.

We want our cortisol levels to go down so that melatonin can go up. If we’re still receiving lots of input from social media, movies, the news, or we’re engaging in a heated discussion, our brain will still be up-and-running processing the information and emotions swirling around, instead of slowing down for a good night’s sleep.

How can you create an evening wind-down of one or preferably two hours before going to sleep where you completely disconnect and relax your system?

First of all, focus on output instead of input. We are living in such an input society where we keep consuming more information and new impulses through the media. We’re making our brains work overtime, even in the evening, by reading more books, listening to more podcasts, answering more messages. What kind of output can you focus on?

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Whether it’s journaling, drawing, meditating, find something you can do that can either come out of you instead of putting new things in or something that can give your brain a break by doing something more physical like stretching, yoga, breathing, or walking.

Secondly, don’t watch any screens. The blue light from your phone or laptop screen will block melatonin production. If you do need to watch a screen, install a blue light filter. This will create a red glow on your screen in the evenings so that your eyes can rest and melatonin doesn’t get blocked. Depending on your device and system, you can find many great free options.

Thirdly, don’t eat or drink anything before going to sleep. Like mentioned before, cortisol goes up when you’re digesting food. Try not to eat or drink anything at least two hours before bedtime. If you do feel hungry, go for good protein options instead of carbohydrates. There are even foods with protein that stimulate the production of melatonin, like almonds. If you do want to drink something, go for some relaxing tea like chamomile, lavender, or valerian.

4. Upgrade Your Bedroom

Make sure your bedroom is super sleep-friendly with a good quality mattress, fresh sheets, good blinds to block the light from interrupting your sleep and make sure it’s not too humid or hot. It’s worth investing in the greatest sleep circumstances. You spend about 33 years of your life in bed![3]

Use your bed only for sleeping and making love. We need to train our brains in our favor. If we tell our brains that the bed is only a place for sleep, it will respect that and help us fall asleep faster.

On the other hand, if you sometimes use your laptop in the bed, watch movies, scroll your social media feed, your brain will think it can start doing other mental activities when you’re actually just trying to sleep.

If you can’t fall asleep and your brain is racing, get back up, walk around, read a book in the living room, drink some lavender tea or diffuse some lavender oil, and try again. Don’t just twist and turn in the bed hoping you’ll fall asleep soon. To train our brains to fall asleep faster and respect our sleep schedule, it’s better to get up, leave the bedroom, and then come back to try again.

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5. Bring Down Your Stress Levels

Last but not least on how to fix your sleep schedule, you need to keep your cortisol levels low. It can peak for short moments, and that is totally natural. But when you are chronically stressed and your cortisol is high all the time, the effects on your health can be detrimental.

This is why it’s so important to work on your stress management skills. Which tools do you have in your toolbox already that you can use? What gives you that feeling of calmness? How can you do more of that, especially during your evening wind down?

You can either try different stress management practices at home or get help from a stress coach:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Practicing gratitude
  • Journaling
  • Reframing problems
  • Exercising
  • Meditating
  • Connecting with positive people
  • Laughing
  • Listening to relaxing music
  • Doing yoga

Find out what fits you as a person and what you can easily implement even when life gets in the way. We all fall off the wagon and forget about these practices now and then. It’s never too late to get back on that horse and restart a regular relaxation practice.

Final Thoughts

“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”—Thomas Dekker

High levels of cortisol don’t always come from mental stress. It can be physical stress too when your immune system is fighting against bacteria, viruses, toxins, injuries, or certain foods. If you feel that might be the case, it is worth investigating more into your physical health and finding where the inflammation in your body is coming from.

And with that, I’m wishing you a lovely evening and a great night’s rest!

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More Tips on How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule

Featured photo credit: Kalegin Michail via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Centers of Disease Control and Prevention: 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep
[2] Healthline: High Cortisol Symptoms: What Do They Mean?
[3] Dreams: Your Life In Numbers

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Maya Lombarts

Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach and founder of Healthy High Achievers

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Under the Weather? 13 Immune Boosting Foods for a Quick Recovery

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Under the Weather? 13 Immune Boosting Foods for a Quick Recovery

Immunity truly does encapsulate the entire physiology of a person.

When you target your immunity by eating a variety of immune boosting foods, then you really can improve your entire body, both physically and mentally.

The immune system of a human being involves all aspects of one’s physiology and one’s daily experience. Eating certain foods can boost your health in a variety of ways. Below I outline several foods that will get you back on track if you’re feeling under the weather.

Be sure to stock up on these foods if you’re in need of a boost.

Immunity Boosting Superfoods

In order to even broach the topic of foods good for one’s immune system, it’s important to consider all aspects of the human body and experience.

What I mean by the human experience is one’s day to day mood, energy levels, and many other factors that signify how one engages with themselves and the world around them.

Before indulging in these foods below, I suggest striving for consistency with diet, activity levels, rest, and incorporating the practice of meditation or spending time in nature as part of your daily routine as well.

If you’re ready to feel better, not just when you’re under the weather but all the time incorporate these foods in your diet regularly.

1. Water is a Wise Choice

Yes I know I’m starting things seemingly simple, but one of my most popular YouTube videos discusses the importance of water!

When I ask people how much water they drink a day, the majority of time the answer begins with ‘not enough’.

So if you know you don’t drink enough water, why continue this pattern of behavior?

Now if you’re one that does hit that 5+ and more (pending activity levels) 8oz glasses a day – good for you! Water is life, and that’s where I’ll leave it.

2. Eggs: The Most Complete Protein

Widely regarded as the universally most complete nutritional protein source, eggs are packed with Omega-3 Fatty Acids and 9 essential amino acids.

Egg whites are rich in Vitamins D/E/K, B2, B5, B6, B12, and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper.

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Meanwhile, egg yolks pack the calories and fats along with cholesterol, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and lecithin.

It’s important to note that the average medium egg contains 76 calories, 7.5g protein, 5.1g fat, 1.4g sat fat – so consider this while integrating this near perfect super food in your next dish!

3. Raw Spinach Supports Immunity

This leafy green is a personal favorite of mine due to its versatility and great taste!

Spinach is loaded with vitamin C which helps fight cold, flu, and reinforce the immune system.

It’s also quite high in antioxidants and beta-carotene, which supports our immune system in fighting infection and viruses.

When enjoying this plentiful plant, do so raw. Its nutrients are best absorbed when the vegetable is raw; consider adding spinach as a fresh salad, rather than to a cooked dish, to reap the most immune system rewards.

4. Turmerics Benefit on T-Cells

Gaining popularity for its delicious taste, this powerful spice is also gaining notoriety for its anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin (which also creates the vibrant orange-yellow color).

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology notes that curcumin activates the production of T-cells, which are of the primary cells fighting on behalf of your systems immunity. [1]

5. Garlic is Really Good for You

This popular food not only tastes great but packs quite a punch.

Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which boasts a variety of medicinal properties. Garlic is also not very calorie dense; 1 ounce yields about 42 calories with 1.8g protein and 9g carbs.

Garlic also boasts Vitamin C, B6, Fiber, and Manganese.

The properties mentioned above helps maintain healthy bones, prevent diabetes and epileptic seizures, regulate thyroid, combat osteoporosis, reduce inflammation, boost metabolism, improve cognitive function, and regulate glucose metabolism!

So, forget about garlic breath–eat this food in abundance!

6. Wild Salmon is Wonderful

A personal favorite of mine, wild Alaskan salmon is one of those super foods that covers all your nutrient bases!

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Salmon can be cooked a variety of delicious ways, and yields some of the highest immune system boosting benefits.

Salmon contains fish oil Omega-3’s, which protect against developing heart disease and heart attack. Oils contained within such fish are quite unique in that they have Omega-3 fatty acids that are not present in any other food.

Also consider that wild salmon contains (per 4oz) 128% Vitamin D, 95% Vitamin B12, 94% tryptophan, 62% selenium, 53% protein, 53% omega 3’s, 45% Vitamin B3, 37% phosphorus, 32% Vitamin B6, 19% choline, 14% potassium, and 8%(157) calories.

This is one of those super foods that you could stand to have in your diet several times per week. Beyond the incredible taste, its nutritional benefits make it well worth seeking out.

7. Essential Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Many home cooks consider this an essential ingredient in preparing dinner. But it’s also quite good for you!

Extra virgin olive oil is widely regarded as being a healthy addition to any kitchen, with modest amounts of Vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids.

Per 100g of olive oil you can expect 14% saturated fat, 73% Monounsaturated fat, 10% Omega-6, 1% Omega-3, 72%, and 75% Vitamin K.

It also boasts an impressive antioxidant profile. This includes the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation.

8. Natural Greek Yogurt Has Many Benefits

When I talk about natural Greek yogurt, I mean the type that is not flavored in any way. Those added sugars won’t help boost immunity.

Many people have convoluted the immunity and health benefits of natural yogurt with the all too popular sugary treats that flood grocery stores. But it’s the plain stuff that’s the best to include in your diet.

Natural Greek yogurt not only goes great with many dishes, but it contains vast amounts of protein which will leave you feeling satisfied.

The reason why I’ve specified ‘Greek yogurt’ is because one cup of plain, low-fat conventional yogurt typically has 5 to 10 grams of protein, where Greek yogurt averages about 13 to 20 grams of protein.

Greek yogurt also contains essential probiotics (live microorganisms). These are bacteria microbes that help improve digestive function, the immune system, and overall gut health.

Add natural Greek yogurt to your diet, whether as a breakfast food, a substitute for sour cream, or as an addition to a healthy smoothie.

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9. Ginseng Tea: Chock Full of Ginsenosides

Ginseng tea’s primary health benefits are due to the naturally occurring chemicals called ginsenosides present in the root.

One of ginseng’s most widely understood benefits include it’s rich anti-cancer properties. [2]

Studies also indicate that people who drink ginseng tea have a lower risk of developing cancer.

Ginseng tea can also help relieve menstrual cramps, lower blood pressure, and improve brain function; and it has also been shown to help with sexual (erectile) dysfunction in men.

10. Green Tea Fights Aging

Just as powerful as ginseng tea, this extremely popular tea is rich in polyphenols that have effects like reducing inflammation and aiding in the fight against cancer.

Green tea is in fact 30% polyphenols, including large amounts of a catechin called EGCG. Catechins are natural antioxidants that aid in the prevention of cell damage and provide several other benefits.

EGCG, and substances like it can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, helping protect cells and molecules from damage.

Free radicals such as these are commonly known to play a role in aging and all sorts of other diseases.

This wonderful also tea contains small quantities of minerals that are important for overall health, so it may be worth picking up some green tea when visiting your next local tea shop.

11. Dark Chocolate: The Delicious Superfood

Don’t get too excited with this one – everything in moderation, of course!

And I’m not just referring to any chocolate — I’m talking specifically about dark chocolate and cacoa nibs, which are both immune system boosting super foods.

We’ve already covered free radicals in this article, and dark chocolate is one of those wonderful super foods that helps fight against such free radicals.

It does this with its high antioxidant profile which is believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from their damage.

Dark chocolate’s antioxidants include vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals – helpful plant compounds. Much like other immune boosting foods on this list dark chocolate will also help balance cholesterol, blood pressure, and improve heart health, and cognitive function.

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You now have a healthy excuse to eat some dark chocolate; but, go for the lowest sugar and highest cocoa content varieties you can find to reap the most rewards.

12. Frozen Blueberries for All!

Personally I love adding frozen blueberries to smoothies; however, sometimes I’ll pop over to the freezer just to grab a small handful as a treat!

Frozen blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, which come from compounds called anthocyanins; these give blueberries their purple hue.

One really neat fact about the ice crystals that form when the berries are frozen is that they disrupt the structure of the plant tissue and make anthocyanins even more available – how cool is that? Talk about hacking blueberries!

Even if not frozen, blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits. They have been known to boost memory, cardiovascular system, and eyesight. The fruit also encourages a process called authophagy, or ‘cell clean-up’.

Berries in general (raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries) are extremely high on the ORAC scale. This means they contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals.

Frozen blueberries in particular may aid in defending colds and flu, as they are high in pterostilbene.

Next time you visit your local grocery store, consider how ideal blueberries are for your immune system and general health.

13. Raw Honey: A Natural Antioxidant

Saving the sweetest for last!

Pure natural raw honey follows the rest of this super food list with its antioxidant profile, however it also contains antibacterial and anti fungal properties.

Raw honey contains antioxidants called phenolic compounds, and certain types contain just as many antioxidants as fruits and vegetables.

Raw honey can help the body kill-off unwanted bacteria and fungus as it naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, which is a strong antiseptic. Raw honey also contains phytonutrients, commonly found in plants, which provides both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Aside from these wonderful benefits, raw honey can also aid with digestive issues, however this typically varies person to person.

Indulge in Better Health

But also, don’t forget to rest! When considering one’s overall health, it’s important to not only incorporate these immune boosting foods, but also to ensure adequate sleep, and take efforts to reduce stress.

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Eating these immunity boosting foods will enable you to take back control of your health and prevent illness… all while satisfying your cravings!

Reference

[1] Journal of Immunology: Curcumin
[2] NCBI: Ginseng for Fatigue

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