Why I don’t Ignore My Sleepless Nights


Why I don’t Ignore My Sleepless Nights

20140504_133232There is something to be said about a decent night of restful sleep.  As I learned from my own experience, my need for sleep is so much more evident now that I pay attention to my cues.

I may have mentioned when I was in my 20’s I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  At the time it was a new diagnosis and there really wasn’t a whole lot of research to help in combating what I was experiencing.

This was a time in my life when I was living a really unhealthy lifestyle. I was eating “vegetarian” actually all starches, and only soy protein. I also believed “fat free” was the way to go and exercise just didn’t happen.

I experienced daily bodily pain, to the point that putting on clothing hurt my skin.

With this excessive amount of pain, sleep just wasn’t happening.

I would lay awake at night feeling like my sheets were a bed of broken glass. I was desperate for sleep so I started taking Tylenol in excessive amounts to get rid of the pain.

As the pounds packed on and the pain just got worse, escalating my headaches to migraines, I knew it was time to address this problem.

I was in my 20’s and I felt like I was in my 80’s, something had to give.

With a few tests, fibromyalgia was the best my Dr. could conclude.  And what I learned about my diagnosis of fibromyalgia was the fact that my lack of restful, restorative sleep was causing my excessive amounts of pain.

As one can lead to another, bad daily habits led to lack of sleep or vice versa, my body was not getting what it needed and was totally revolting in the process.

Unable to really address my overall lifestyle, my Dr. gave me an (old school) Anti-Depressant  to help combat the sleeplessness.  Believing this would help calm my brain down enough to sleep.

Unfortunately all it did was make me groggy all the time, not improving my restful sleep and did nothing for my pain.  Needless to say I stopped taking it after 3 days.

At that point I knew there had to be another way, I just needed to start looking for myself.  It wasn’t the Dr.’s fault he couldn’t fix me, I had to find a fix for myself.

Hence started my lifestyle journey.  My lack of sleep and my overall quality of life needed to change.  And to be honest I needed to get real and responsible for what I had to do to make it right.

As soon as I started eating for fat loss and exercising, my pain and lack of sleep dissipated.  Making me feel like a million bucks.

My rest became deep and restorative, given the nutrients I was getting from my new eating and the short duration workouts (strength being my focus).

What I learned about my body and my brain when I wasn’t eating properly, was the lack of proper nutrients allowing my body the ability to function at it’s best.

It was like putting water in your gas tank and expecting it to run properly.  

So my sleep lacked the necessary restoration causing my brain to be on high alert, extra sensitive nerve endings at the skin level.

When I changed my eating lifestyle, all my compensatory pain associated with my lack of sleep went away.  I was like a new person refreshed and ready to conquer the world.

This is how I see  it;

Like a dirty pool of water, until you run the filtration system and clean it out, the pool of water looks like it is full of sludge.

When you get a restful sleep, it gives your body the ability cleans out the sludge.

Then you  can get up being fresh and clean, not being dragged down by all the dirt and nastiness of the day before.

And when you are not sleeping that stuff just hangs out in your body day, after day, after day, that you don’t sleep.

For me, it wasn’t a simple process, but a necessary process in order to feel my best

I sometimes still struggle with how my body reacts to less than normal sleep.

Yes there are days when I need to just take a rest, to get the restoration my body needs.  Those are the days that I do skip my workouts, focus on getting restorative movement such as Yin Yoga, taking a bath or just taking a nap.

But here is the thing about today as compared to so many years ago, it is easier for me to see when I need to take a rest now. I listen to my body and don’t let it get to the point that I am struggling with constant daily pain.

What can I recommend for anyone that is trying to get healthy today and lacking the necessary sleep?

Don’t ignore that fact that you may not be getting a good night’s sleep.

If you are embarking on eating better and exercising, if you are not sleeping, it is virtually impossible to stay consistent on this new venture.

The lack of sleep may be your deciding factor on succeeding or failing on your new “plan”.

And remember if you want it to last and make it a lifestyle, sleep is key in making it last.

Like when I first started I had to listen to my body, had to listen when I needed a break.  And when I take on a new stress without giving it a chance to recover, it will most definitely revolt.

I want to help you decide if you are getting enough sleep.

Let’s be honest some of us think we can live on 4, 5, or even 6 hours of sleep.  Coming from a self proclaimed lover of sleep (at minimum 7-9 hours for me); there are some warning signs that you just may not be getting enough and you are just kidding yourself that it is okay!

Signs that you are not getting enough sleep

  • Excessive cravings
  • Soreness is incessant and lasts for many days after a normal workout or after just functioning on a daily basis
  • Groggy in the mornings or most of the day
  • Weakness in your workouts. What you were able to lift or carry or do, in previous workouts is just not happening.
  • Grumpy and easily irritated.
  • Getting sick more often and a lot

In order to make sleep apart of change in lifestyle, here are some tricks I have found work.

  • Just like your workout time, you need to set a time that you go to bed every night. Like your workouts don’t let anything get in the way of your bedtime.

Okay so you have kids and that doesn’t always work?

As anything else start slow and work toward being adamant about your bedtime.

Much like your kids (hopefully) have a specific bedtime you should as well and stick to it. And yes you may get off track and go to bed late every once in a while but make it a point to get back to your regular schedule as quickly as possible.

  •   Take distractions out of your bedroom,

T.V., phones, and even books can be a distraction. If it gets your mind going and causes you to not relax it should be removed from your place of rest

  •  Meditate in bed, or listen to quiet music

This will help your brain calm down from a stressful day or just relax you enough to get some sleep

  •  You may need a little starchy low glycemic carb before bed

Especially if you are limiting your carbs throughout the day.   A small sweet potato or ½ grapefruit or small bowl of berries, can help keep you sleeping throughout the night.

  • If you are “dieting” and reducing your calories that may wake you up at night

A huge factor in getting a good night’s sleep could be a lack of nutrient dense food.

I totally get it, sometimes we want to lose weight etc.  However if you are going to bed “hungry” for the right nutrients, your bodily functions are not going to be able to do what they need to do, in other words shut down and restore.

So revisit your intake of foods, maybe think about not “dieting” and start exploring eating lifestyle changes that don’t interrupt your sleep.

Keep in mind these are just some suggestions that have helped me to gain a better night’s sleep.

Be sure to listen to your body, just like anything else, you can’t create a healthy fat loss lifestyle if you don’t address all the things that can be impacting your desired results.

And this is why today I am pretty adamant about getting my sleep. I know what it did to my body and I certainly don’t want anyone else to experience that either.

Do you also struggle to get a good night’s sleep while trying to lose fat and get consistent with  your exercise?  While every week I offer up to my email inner circle tips on getting off the roller coaster ride of “diet” and exercise, and addressing sleep as a key to creating a life long lifestyle.  Sign up here