I was honored to know and love Dr. Rachel when I lived in Portland. As a doctor, fellow mama, yoga buddy and a friend I have learned so much from her wisdom. At FitMamaPDX she helped me test and regulate my postpartum hormones so that I could fully embrace each day feeling well rested. I’m now honored to have her share her light and knowledge with you on the subject of sleep. If her insights about sleep really hit home for you, she is offering a support group to improve wellness for new(ish) moms, so please check that out here if a little TLC sounds healing. ~Kristine Petterson
As moms, we know what lack of sleep can do. From things as simple as putting your clothing on inside out, to forgetting important meetings, sleep deprivation leaves us mentally duh and physically blah. But, have you ever stopped to ask yourself why?
It might seem straightforward; but, sleep affects more than just the weight of your eyelids and yawn reflex. Lack of sleep (anything less than eight hours of sleep per night) can lead to increased injuries, weight gain, premature aging in adults or abnormal growth patterns in children, hormone imbalances, immune suppression, increased risk for chronic disease, memory deficits, depression…need I go on.
Don’t panic, I’m not saying that being a mom with all those sleepless nights is going to make you sick, old and fat. What I am saying is that if you’re in a position where optimum sleep is not in the cards, you can offset the negative side effects with a little help. No, this is not a long term solution – but neither are those sleepless nights!
If you’re a nerd like me, you’ll be interested to know that ghrenlin, leptin, insulin, cortisol, human growth hormone, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid hormone are ALL affected negatively by lack of sleep. And, protecting your adrenals and metabolism with herbs, nourishing foods and the right movement can help to normalize these body systems.
Think of sleep as a time to reboot your system so that you can avoid overheating and eventually crashing into chronic illness. So, here’s what you can start to put into place to ensure you continue functioning at peak performance.
Don’t use the evenings as a time to catch up on work, even if you feel like it’s the only time you have – trust me!Remember to drink water throughout the day so that you’re not chugging down a few glasses before bedGet the most out of your melatonin production by blocking all light by using an eye mask, or blackout shades.To keep yourself from falling victim to racing thoughts at night keep a journal by the bed so that you can jot down any to do list items that spring into your head, leaving you with a nice blank canvas for dreams.Try calming teas, such as Sleepytime or Chamomile, in the evenings to help alleviate stress accumulated throughout the day – this works for your kiddos as well.Limit caffeine intake to before 1pm to help you get the deepest sleep possible during the hours you have.Get off the devices. The longer we stare at our computer, phone or TV screens each night the duller our natural sleep signals become.Last, but not least, give guided meditation a try. Calm, Headspace, and Insight Timer are a few apps that you may want to check out.