What are the parameters within which you define health? You may currently label yourself “healthy”. You have stepped up your game in regards to nutrition, and exercise. You have started the Paleo diet. You are feeling better than before. Sugar filled soda has been replaced with water and kombucha, your hydration game is on point. The pantry has been cleared. Processed junk food thrown out. Replacing that plastic-wrapped, sugar laden franken-foods with nutrient-dense, properly raised animals, locally grown fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats.
You have adapted a new exercise routine, including functional movements. Walking, and lifting heavy are now your thing. You are feeling good, but still not great. There is something missing. Where is this vitality people keep talking about? So you continue to tweak your diet and play guessing games with your workouts. Things start to feel complicated. Too many tweaks and not enough results. Thoughts of easing your stress with pizza, beer and fistfuls of cake currently seem like a reasonable answer to your never ending questions. Is all this effort really worth it? Could there be a simpler answer? What if that answer was quite simple? We get heathy, we start eating paleo, lift heavy, clean up our routine but sleep is the first thing we sacrifice and the last thing that gets considered when we are wondering why we feel off. Is sleep the missing link?
The old adage, “you can sleep when you’re dead” is said to have been adapted from the above quote by Benjamin Franklin. While the founding father’s concept of working your butt off to get what you want seems admirable in this day and age, how much does it actually benefit us in the long run? The impacts of pushing ourselves to a literal grave can wreak havoc on your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health which is often overlooked for the sake of progress. People are taught at an early age that in order to be successful we must forego sleep for prosperity. We are raised to push past the tired, grab some caffeine and soldier on. Children in this country are waking up before the sun to get to school on time, where they are expected to spend 6.5 hours sitting, working toward a test score. Their evenings are filled with homework, after school activities, and too much technology. All these things keep them on the go until their heads hit the pillow.
Does any of this sound familiar? Have you carried on these sleepless traits learned as a child into your adult life? School has been replaced with work. 6.5 hours have become 8-10, sometimes more. Your homework, is still work brought home, it just does not include spelling words and math problems. After school activities include errands, dinner, drinks to relieve the stress of the day, getting into the gym to burn off said drinks and dinner, and yet still too much technology. Our heads hit the pillow running full speed with thoughts of what must be accomplished tomorrow. We lay there for 5-6 hours, sometimes less, then get up and do it all over again.
According to Perspectives on Psychological Sciences, a journal of theAssociation of Psychological Sciences(http://pps.sagepub.com/content/10/6/733.full) this has created a sleep crisis in our culture. Lack of sleep has become a public health issue with “broad implications for cognitive outcomes, mental health, physical health, work performance and safety.” This means that despite nutrition and exercise changes, it may be difficult to find that missing vitality. The vitality that can only come when continually well rested. We are not allowing ourselves the necessary time to rest and repair before a new day begins. Optimal health is needed in order to never feel or look our chronological age. If we continue to ignore our bodies need for good, quality movement changes will bring us to the level of health we are currently seeking. Slow down, breathe deep and go to sleep!
In Part 2 of Sleep: The Missing Link we will discuss other ways in which lack of sleep can impact your overall health and steps you can take to ensure a better night’s sleep.
Natalie Washabaugh is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) and a 21-Day Sugar Detox Coach focusing on fat loss, blood sugar regulation, body image issues and healing your relationship with food. She loves educating clients, providing them the tools necessary to nourish themselves; mind, body and soul. She is also a credentialed teacher of the Deaf and a certified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter. She has created a Vlog series in ASL to bring health and wellness directly to the Deaf community. She loves lifting heavy, San Diego sunsets and walking her two puggles, Max and Rambo, on the sandy shores. You can find her blogging sarcastically atwww.anourishedappetite.com.