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Caucasian woman sleeping in bed

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It happens to the best of us…you know you are tired, you get ready to go to bed but then you lay down and every thought that you could possibly have starts to make it’s way into your brain…..What you are making for dinner tomorrow, what you are wearing tomorrow, is there something you’re forgetting, are your kids OK, daily stressors, did I lock the door and close the garage? Why was there only one girl Smurf?

We really need about 8 hours of sleep per night, but at the very least shoot for 6. Our bodies need sleep to do a major reset and repair. Remember Holly Haze always says what a fine tuned machine the body is! The entire body is affected by lack of sleep. Let’s start with the brain….lack of sleep can make you irritable, confused, depressed and obviously tired. The heart…studies have found that getting fewer than 6 hours of sleep on a continuous basis makes you 48% more likely to die of heart disease and 15% more likely in developing a stroke. Sleep deprivation throws off our circadian rhythms which regulates the sleep-wake cycle of our body.

Overall body weight…lack of sleep will make it hard for you to lose weight. The reasoning for weight gain is the longer you are awake the hungrier you will become. Your body needs energy to keep going and if you are staying up long hours, the more energy it will require. If you are not getting enough (or too much sleep) it can affect longevity of life. Lastly, and most importantly, lack of sleep suppresses your immune system. It has even been shown to thoroughly increase your risk for cancer.

Holly is intrigued by this (and all things related to health for that matter). “There is an actual study called the Zeigamik Effect (search it, it’s absolutely fascinating) which researched the effect of unfinished tasks with sleep performance. Basically it showed with varied age groups, students all the way to employees later in life, if tasks throughout the day were interrupted and left undone, it led to rumination which in turn interferes with your sleep. Trust me, I am the queen of rumination.”

Holly Haze knows about sleep deprivation first hand, “Anyone that knows me personally knows that I suffer with sleep issues. You would also know that I do not like taking any type of medication. With that being said, there were times I was only getting two hours of sleep a night. I cannot tell you how tired I was but I would power through every day with tasks of motherhood, working, all of my daily chores, and working out six days a week. I could not get a handle on proper sleep. I tried CBD oil, Tylenol PM, melatonin, lavender and other oils, bath before bed, weighted blanket, sleep mask, valerian root, you name it.”

Many people also suffer from clinically diagnosed insomnia. Anywhere from 10 to 15% of American adults have chronic insomnia and the rates are usually higher in older people. There is a variety of reasons for this, but a lot of it can do with side effects of medication. Holly adds, “Many people don’t know that drugs for hypertension, antidepressants, corticosteroids, antihistamines, statin drugs, all of these come with side effects including insomnia. Then of course you have things on your mind that will affect your sleep every day; financial concerns, family situations, personal issues, work related issues, and the news going on around us. (BIG word of advice..TURN OFF THE NEWS… I did this in 2009 and it was the best decision of my adult life).

I know some people like to have the TV on to fall asleep. It is quite possibly one of the worst things for your brain. I have also been putting down my phone about 30 minutes before bed. I often wonder how much different life would be without phones and TVs. How anyone can start their day with that kind of depression in the background going into your brain escapes me. I don’t know why anyone would want to start their day with that. Even if it’s on his background noise, it’s being absorbed into your brain without you even knowing it. I cannot imagine that toxicity every day.”

If you are suffering from chronic insomnia, definitely see your physician and discuss a plan. It could lead to many problems including daytime fatigue and job performance and then eventually down the road depression and anxiety and a reliance on drugs. Many people get a prescription to help them sleep, but of course those are going to come with side effects. Even the drugs that are more common like Ambien come with even worse side effects for some….drowsiness, nightmares, agitation, and even amnesia. There’s one out there called Lunesta which can cause heavy menstrual bleeding for women, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness and a fever.

Sleep habits are just like any other habits. They have to be learned and then re-trained just like any other unhealthy habit. Holly says, “Keep in mind that most of our unhealthy sleep patterns go back to even our childhood and they can be relearned. It took me a very long time to figure out the benefit of removing screen time before bed. I also take my magnesium (threonate and glycinate) later at night because as mentioned in a previous post it can help you sleep.”

Take aways: Turn off the news, put down your screens, make a to-do list and/or journal before bed so your brain thinks there is a plan. Zzzzzzzz